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?

Perform

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?

Website/social media

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.

Be excellent

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.

Give your choir a challenge with 'a cappella' singing
How to freshen up your choir rehearsals

18 comments

Victoria Hopkins Staff

Thanks for contributing, Chris. I love the idea of taking taster sessions "on the road".
Read more
Read less
Victoria Hopkins Staff

Wow! That's a fantastic recruiting idea. Thanks Brian.
Read more
Read less
Victoria Hopkins Staff

Hi Kurt, thanks for visiting the site. That's a great point.
Read more
Read less
Victoria Hopkins Staff

Hi Tim, thanks for commenting. We've always found that the two most effective recruitment tools are open rehearsals and performing. How about seeing if you can perform in a local shopping centre or anywhere with good footfall.
Read more
Read less
Victoria Hopkins Staff

Hi Suzanne. What a sad and inspiring story. I'm so glad that Total Choir Resources has been helpful to you. You've really made my day!
Read more
Read less
Victoria Hopkins Staff

Hi Pearl, thanks for your question. We don't have any CDs. If you mean our audio warm-up tracks, you can get these by simply putting your name and email address into the form on the right hand side of any of our pages. Once you're signed up, you'll be taken to a download page where you can grab the tracks. All our articles are freely available on the site. Either click on the 'articles' tab in the nav bar and browse around, choose a category that interests you, or use the search box in the nav bar to find articles and podcasts on a particular issue. Very best of luck with your community choir. Let us know how you get on.
Read more
Read less
Victoria Hopkins Staff

Good for you Shirley. It sounds as though your choir is really taking off. Wish I could help with the men, but if I find any stray tenors or basses, I'm keeping them!
Read more
Read less
Victoria Hopkins Staff

That's good to know Richard. Thanks for getting in touch.
Read more
Read less
Victoria Hopkins Staff

A loyalty card's an interesting idea.
Read more
Read less
Victoria Hopkins Staff

Hi Stella. Thank you for your comment. Our website is aimed at people who are leading choirs, not at choral singers. There are lots of resources online for singers, depending on the style of music you're singing. Best of luck with your choral career.
Read more
Read less
Victoria Hopkins Staff

Hi Sally. I'm sorry to hear that you're having a rough time with your choir. Here's my opinion of the problems you've outlined, for what it's worth. In respect of problem number 2, I don't think there's much you can do about that except stress that your choir is a friendly and welcoming place for new people. If someone doesn't want to join a choir without a 'mate' to go with, they're probably not that bothered about joining at all! In respect of problem number 1, I think you have to be quite strong and insist that people move around and try out different places. It's always worked well with our choirs, and we have quite a few people who hate not being on the back row. Start gently, perhaps moving around just for some warm-ups, or just for a final sing at the end of a rehearsal. Then experiment with new formations during rehearsals. Once people get the idea that they don't have a particular place and that they are expected to be open to new choir formations, they'll get over their fear. On the last couple of points you made about some aspects of the choir putting people off, my opinion is that you have to be resolute about what your choir is for. You can't please everyone. If the ethos of your choir is that you welcome anyone, without audition or music-reading ability, have the strength to stick to that, even if it will put some off joining the choir. However, if you have a clear vision for what you want your choir to be, and you cannot attract enough singers to make that vision viable, you'll have to have a fundamental re-think. I might be desperate to start a male barbershop group in my village, but if only three guys want to join that group, perhaps my vision and my demographic don't gel. Equally, if there's an appetite for a rock and pop choir in my area, but I hate that style of music and can't bear the idea of leading that kind of choir, again, there's a mismatch. I hope that helps a bit. It sounds like you're in a bad place at the moment and feeling quite down about your choir. My advice is not to make any hasty decisions, but really think through what you're doing and what you're trying achieve. It might also be good to include your choir in that thought process by conducting a survey of some sort. Best of luck Victoria
Read more
Read less
Victoria Hopkins Staff

Oh dear David. That sounds really rough. Without knowing anything about your circumstances, I think you should talk to your choir director about the situation and discuss how you might improve things. Don't suffer in silence!
Read more
Read less
Victoria Hopkins Staff

I don't think we've ever done a flyer, Vida. Perhaps someone else will chip in.
Read more
Read less
Victoria Hopkins Staff

Congratulations on starting your choir. Wow! That's a very big topic you're asking about. There's a wealth of information on this website about how to build and develop a fantastic choir that gives enjoyment to its singers and to its audiences. These blog posts and podcast episodes might be a good place to start:- https://www.totalchoirresources.com/how-to-develop-your-singers-voices-in-mixed-ability-choir-rehearsals/ https://www.totalchoirresources.com/tcr071-podcast-5-great-tips-to-boost-your-teaching-skills-in-choir-rehearsals/ https://www.totalchoirresources.com/creating-a-collaborative-choir-rehearsal/
Read more
Read less
Victoria Hopkins Staff

Congratulations on your appointment.
Read more
Read less
Victoria Hopkins Staff

Hi David. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the article. I'm afraid we're not the people to ask about church choirs because we run secular community choirs. Maybe you could approach other church choir leaders to find out what they do.
Read more
Read less
Victoria Hopkins Staff

Hi Jennifer. Congratulations on your appointment. I think the issues raised in the article are pretty universal, but there are probably differences too. I'd start by asking the current members what they love about being in the choir. That will give you some idea of the kind of people you want to attract to join. Remember - no choir can be right for everyone. Decide what your choir stands for and then recruit on that basis. Best of luck.
Read more
Read less
Victoria Hopkins Staff

Hi Janmarie. If it were me, I'd just say exactly what you've said to us. I can't imagine that your participants expect you to foot the bill.
Read more
Read less