As time goes by, it’s inevitable that your core of existing singers will be joined by new recruits. It’s wonderful to welcome new faces and new voices to the choir. As choir leader, there are a number of steps you can take to ensure this meeting of new and existing singers runs smoothly and benefits all. Here are our top tips:
Mix it up
We all have a tendency to form habits and our behaviour in choirs is no different. When new singers join, your existing singers may not automatically include them, not because of any hostility, but just because they’re caught up in their own experience. You want to integrate your new singers and make them feel at home as quickly as possible, and you want to show existing singers that new members enrich the choir. The best way I have found is to take charge! Welcome your new singers and actively introduce them to existing members who they can sit with. This ‘buddy’ system will help new members get right to the heart of the choir.
When you’ve been part of a group for sometime either as a member or the leader, it can be hard to remember what it felt like to be a newcomer. Put yourself in your new member’s shoes and don’t expect them to instinctively know everything at once. Welcome your new members to the rehearsal and when starting your warm-ups remember to add an additional explanation where necessary, so that the new members can take part in the exercises without feeling overwhelmed. Don’t worry about repeating yourself for members who know the exercises well. A good re-cap of instructions never hurt anyone. I like to involve the existing members when explaining exercises to newcomers by asking them to demonstrate.
Stay in touch
After a singer comes along to their first rehearsal, it’s a great idea to get their feedback either at the end of the session or via a phone call or email. There may be things they don’t understand that can be quickly explained by you. By contacting them, you are showing you value them and want to help them become part of the choir. Hopefully they feel excited and enthusiastic after the first rehearsal in which case it’s great to get that feedback and also show them you are happy they have come to the choir and are available for any information they need. There may be times when the choir just isn’t the right fit for someone, which is fine. Never feel personally rejected in this instance (as hard as that can be); more often than not this has nothing to do with you. It may just be that the music isn’t their style, perhaps it’s too big a choir or perhaps they were just giving singing a try and it wasn’t for them.
Keep them informed
When new singers start your choir, it’s worth considering giving them a welcome sheet which tells them the main points of information they need. This can be anything from rehearsal times to useful phone numbers and email addresses. Any information that will help them to settle into things as quickly as possible will be beneficial. Don’t presume that your new singers have vast choral experience. For example, they may be uncertain of what section they should be in. If your choir is un-auditioned and informal, let them know they can try a part but move to another if it’s not right for them.
With these tried and tested tips you’ll find newcomers to your choir soon feel at home.