Autumn and workshops seem to go hand in hand for me. This year is no exception as I prepare my latest workshop called Contemprorary Singing for Beginners. Victoria and I have been running workshops for over five years now alongside our choirs. They are open to our members and also those in the local community. If you’re considering going down this road, here are five reasons why we think workshops are great.
1. Give singers individual attention
A workshop has a different feel to a choir rehearsal, the obvious difference being that there are usually fewer people (we generally limit workshops to 20 places). This enables you to offer more personal attention. Working with smaller groups means that you can help each singer individually during the session. We find that many singers feel more relaxed and open to trying things out at workshops. They also have the chance to get to know people from their choir who they might not have spent much time with before.
2. Focus on specific issues
In our choir rehearsals, we work on vocal technique, but in a general way. In workshops, we can explore specific areas of interest and home in on a topic, whether that’s solo singing, harmony, the work of a certain artist or composer or how to use a microphone. There are any number of options. Workshops also enable us to look at a topic both historically and currently, read articles, share ideas and hear musical examples of the areas we are working on.
3. Give yourself a change
For the choir leader, workshops offer something different and allow you to research and develop areas of interest to you. Not only is this rewarding, it also helps you to grow as a teacher. Often, working with smaller groups will teach you about the way in which people learn, which in turn will help you when you’re planning choir rehearsals.
4. Encourage choir recruitment
If you advertise your workshops locally, you may find that people other than your choir members wish to take part. If they like you and enjoy the session they may then be interested in coming along to your choir. When advertising your workshop remember to target both your existing members and the local community with posters and flyers, or perhaps an ad in the local paper or on local radio. When telling your members about the workshop perhaps suggest they bring along a friend to try it out.
5. Develop your business
If, like us, you run your choir as a business, workshops are a great way to add another string to your bow. And why stop at workshops for your choir? Perhaps you could create opportunities to deliver workshops in other settings. Over the past few years, Victoria and I have run singing workshops for trainee teachers, financiers, students, university lecturers and even a hen party! The more versatile you are, the more opportunities you may find coming your way.