With so much music to choose from, it can be a challenge to select music for your community choir that that hits the spot every time. When choosing new music, think about the songs you already sing, what works well? What do the choir enjoy? What adds that extra sparkle for singers and an audience? Here are some features which we think work pretty well for community choirs to help you along the way.
Okay so we might not be able to please all of our singers all of the time with our song choices but we can choose music which is more likely to appeal to the majority rather than a smaller section of the choir. Music which is inspiring, has an upbeat and ultimately positive message, which is not too specific and could be applied to a number of situations is ideal. When selecting repertoire for a performance make sure you choose a balance of songs both fast and slow. Try to look at a range of topics or songs which have a more generic meaning rather than something too specific. For example, a whole concert of songs about relationship break-ups may prove a bit depressing for both singers and the audience! Think about themes that will inspire your singers who come to choir because they love to sing.
Try not to be too predictable when choosing repertoire. Safe, easy options are great if mixed in with other more challenging or quirky pieces but if they are all you choose your choir may get bored. It’s good to challenge yourself and your singers from time to time. Look for repertoire which has some interest or something unusual that will make it memorable for the choir and audience. For example, a version of a famous song in which the arrangement has been changed in some way. Perhaps a ballad version of an upbeat rock song (very popular in advertising), or a traditional piece with a twist such as a jazz or swing style.
Think about how your choir learns. If they are learning by ear make sure that the piece is suitable for this. Ideal for learning this way is music with a simple structure that features some repetition of melody and lyrics. Music with obsure, unexpected sections may make it harder for your choir to learn. If you do choose a more challenging piece for your choir to learn by ear , you want to make sure you can allocate enough rehearsal time for this. Learn the piece in bite sized sections building your choir’s confidence and also ensure you mix such learning with other more straight forward pieces.
The emotion of a piece is central to how you interpret it for your choir. People love singing because of how it makes them feel. Your choir will enjoy songs they can connect with on an emotional level whether they have had direct experience of the subject matter or not. Ask them about the song and what it means – you may get several different interpretations. Use dynamics to build the story within a song. You may start softly and build to a dramatic chorus bringing the song back down to a soft end, or maybe the piece will just build and build with a dramatic finale. Your singers will enjoy this process and learn so much about creating texture in a piece, which will in turn help them to deliver a fantastic, genuine performance to an audience.