4 practical strategies to induct new singers into your choir

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.

Be inclusive

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.

Comments on 4 practical strategies to induct new singers into your choir

  1. Avatar Barbara says:

    Thank you for this. On a similar theme, I am currently planning to advertise the choir. Being a small church choir, it is very difficult to attract new members. We already have those who come to church as part of the congregation and want to be part of the choir, but I am wondering whether you, or any of your readers have any tips or suggestions on how to word an advert in order to attract people to experience singing in a church choir? We have a monthly magazine which goes to the whole parish, as well as a local newspaper, that I am proposing using as vehicles for advertising. Many thanks!

    1. Christine Mulgrew Christine Mulgrew says:

      Hi Barbara,

      Thanks for your message. From my point of view I think the less is more approach is always good. An eye catching advert which is clear, concise and to the point is much better than lots of wordy rambling. Perhaps you could hold an open introductory session where anyone can come along and either join in or watch what your rehearsals are like?

  2. Avatar Valerie says:

    Thank you for 4 practical strategies to induct new singers into your choir. I found the article very refreshing and informative. Greatful thanks. Valerie

    1. Christine Mulgrew Christine Mulgrew says:

      Thanks Valerie,

      Glad you found the article helpful.

  3. Avatar Sara says:

    I divide the choir up into teams each term randomly to serve two purposes: a) to ensure people mix and get to know each other b) each team takes turns to provide refreshments/set up/down, welcome on the door. This has nothing to do with the singing,, although occasionally we’ll do rounds with each team on a part. I find this works well to integrate new members.

    1. Christine Mulgrew Christine Mulgrew says:

      Thanks Sara,

      It’s great to hear different ways choir leaders manage this and sounds like your method keeps everyone very much involved in the choir as a team which has got to be beneficial.

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