Over time, you will start to build up a sizeable collection of repertoire which your choir has learned and performed. It can be easy to fall into the mindset that once something has been used, it should be put to one side and you must constantly be finding new material for your choir. Maybe you fear that your singers will get bored, or that they will think being in the choir lacks new challenges.
We spent several years in this mindset, always looking at new material and sometimes overloading our singers with new learning in the run-up to a performance. What we’ve learnt from our own experience and from speaking with our choir members, is that the ideal solution is all about balance.
Familiar repertoire is enjoyable
Yes, it’s important to bring fresh and exciting new music to choir for your singers to learn, but at the same time, once they have become good at singing a piece, they take joy in returning to it. If it’s discarded, never to be seen again, they may feel that all the effort was a little wasted. Also, as your choir develops their skills, they will enjoy hearing their performance of the pieces change and develop.
You can take on more performances
The beauty of having a large amount of existing repertoire is that you can pick and mix for performances. You can look at how much rehearsal time you have before a performance and work out a balance of new learning with exisiting repertoire. Your singers will find this much more manageable in terms of learning, particularly if you are asking them to learn by ear.
Recent joiners will enjoy existing repertoire as a new challenge
Of course over time you will have new members join who may not have covered some of the pieces. Take time in rehearsals to run through some of the exisiting repertoire when you know you may be using it in an upcoming performance. Having rehearsal tracks that your new members can use at home will really help them to get up to speed. Also, running through familiar music every now and then doesn’t harm existing singers either, as over time parts and harmonies can get unintentionally changed or forgotten.
Our new idea for repertoire
One of the issues that we came up against over and over again was obtaining copies of existing repertoire for new members of our chamber choir. We couldn’t afford to buy lots of scores to have in stock, so we’d end up running out and having to go back to the online music store where we purchased the original batch to get more copies. As you probably know, you get discounts for buying in bulk, so we’d miss out on that when we only wanted a few more scores to hand out to recent members. It was all rather costly and time-consuming.
That’s why we came up with a revolutionary idea for our own digital music store. We decided to sell scores to whole choirs, not to individual singers. So when you buy one of our arrangements, you print out as many as you need. And if you need more – you print some more. Easy, efficient and cost-effective.
As you plan your calendar of events for your choir, take the time to look back at previous pieces. Choose a few songs that your choir enjoyed, songs that are great for audiences and songs that you enjoyed working on. Keep them current by popping them into your rehearsals from time to time. That way, if a performance opportunity comes up at the last minute, you’ll be ready to go with some fantastic repertoire.