The awesome benefits of revisiting repertoire with your choir

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.

Comments on The awesome benefits of revisiting repertoire with your choir

  1. Avatar Tracy Steward says:

    Our Summer concert programme this year is entirely revisits as its our 5 year anniversary since being formed. I canvassed the choir and so they feel ownership of what they are singing and the satisfaction of improving on something we did in the early days ( and speed of learning!!) is a huge confidence boost. My plan is to do the same with Christmas concert too. From my point of view its been nice not having to try to find music to sing that fits all the criteria of suitable style, difficulty, interest and audience appeal!

    1. Christine Mulgrew Christine Mulgrew says:

      Thanks for your message Tracy,
      Anniversaries for the choir are a great time to re-visit and look back on previous repertoire. My choir recently celebrated seven years so I did a Seven Songs for Seven Years set choosing repertoire from across our time together. It was a great trip down memory lane and like you say took the pressure off me for finding new repertoire for a little while.

  2. Avatar Sue Lane says:

    Coincidentally, we’ve just started to revisit. I’ve asked members for their favourites so that we can begin with the most popular.

    1. Christine Mulgrew Christine Mulgrew says:

      Thanks Sue,

      Great to involve your choir in choosing re-visits.

  3. Avatar Kate says:

    Absolutely true! My choirs do like to revisit things….particularly pieces which went! I have occasionally done a survey asking them for their favourite pieces and which they would like to sing again. With concerts approaching there is something very satisfying about dusting off an old song and giving it an airing. I told my Lads singing group that it’s the equivalent of creating their “greatest hits”!

    1. Christine Mulgrew Christine Mulgrew says:

      Thanks Kate,

      I love the idea of re-visits being like a greatest hits album!

  4. I’ve been running a female choir for about 18 years, and I’m currently putting together a collection of all my arrangements, around 40 of them. But my understanding is, getting permission from all the original songwriters (whose work we are arranging) would be such a nightmare as to make it impossible to publish. And so all our arranging work could not be shared on a commercial basis. How are you managing to sell your arrangements, given that difficulty?

    1. Avatar Victoria Hopkins says:

      Hi Alison. We’ll be selling new choral arrangements of songs that are already in the public domain. We own the copyright of the arrangement and there’s no copyright on the original song. If you’re making arrangements, for any purpose, of songs that are in copyright, you need to get permission and, as you say, it can be prohibitively expensive to get that permission.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *