Practical tips for recruiting new singers to your choir
When it comes to recruiting singers to choirs, from semi-professional ensembles to community groups, two things have to be in place. First, potential members have to know about the choir. Second, they have to want to sing in the choir. Let's look at ways that you can tick these two vital boxes and attract singers to your choir.
Raising your choir's profile
Unless your choir is very unusual (eg a scratch choir that meets once a year for a single project), you're probably looking to attract singers from a limited radius around the point where you rehearse. How can you make sure that the singers or potential singers within that radius know about your choir?
Every time your choir performs, new people are going to hear about you. Even if they're not singers, they might mention the choir to friends and family members who are. Performance raises your profile in your community, attracts singers and grows your choir, which in turn enables you to perform more frequently. It's a virtuous circle. Consider prospective performances not only in terms of what they will cost or earn, but in terms of their wider impact on your profile.
Encourage word of mouth
In any community, word of mouth is a powerful way of reaching out to people. Encourage your choir members to help you attract new singers. Involving your existing membership in recruitment gives them a sense of ownership. You could also consider an "introduce a friend" discount in subs or fees.
Target local marketing
Local newspapers, magazines and websites are usually crying out for copy. Send them a timely, succinct, well-written piece about what your choir's up to and it will probably be published. Focus on community work and personal stories. Have you supported a charity or taken part in a local event? Has an individual choir member achieved something notable?
Don't assume that everyone you reach online is in some far-flung place. Most people's Facebook connections include friends and family who live in their area. Ask them to 'like' your Facebook page or follow you on Twitter.
Attracting singers to your choir
Once you've taken steps to make your choir better-known in the area from which you want to attract members, you need to convert knowledge of the choir's existence into a desire to join.
It sounds a bit trite to say it, but being excellent at what you do is probably the most important way of attracting new singers. By 'excellent', I don't mean that you have to be running the most advanced, musically-perfect choir in the world, just that you and your choir should aspire to do whatever you do to the best of your ability.
Hold open rehearsals
Open rehearsals are great fun for the choir and a chance for prospective members to dip a toe in the water without committing themselves to anything. Include some entertaining warm-ups and exercises that get people laughing and put them at their ease. You could sing some well-known repertoire that new singers are likely to know already or learn easily. Alternatively, you could resurrect pieces that your choir knows well, so that their confident singing can carry along your guests. Lay on some refreshments and plenty of chatting and mingling time and you have a great recipe for attracting new members.
Communicate the benefits
What do your choir members get out of being in the choir? Have you asked them? Gathering testimonials gives you the opportunity to communicate explicitly to prospective members the benefits they can hope to enjoy when they are part of your choir.
Don't be afraid to blow your own trumpet. If you've got exciting plans and projects on the horizon, let people know. The fact that you're performing a particular piece in your next programme may be all the incentive a singer needs to make the leap.
Ultimately, there's no magic formula to attracting new singers. I believe that if you run a choir with integrity, authenticity and good humour, and you strive to be excellent, you will create something that people will want to be part of.