Choir leaders: a bit of musical "me time"

When you're a choir leader, it’s likely that your role was born of a passion for music and singing. However, the day to day reality of managing a choir can easily become all-encompassing, especially if your routine includes juggling work and family life. Before you know it, you realise that the only current musical experience you have is leading your choir. You may even find that you are less likely to listen to music for pleasure as all your listening becomes a search for repertoire. This was exactly the situation I found myself in and it was starting to de-motivate me. My love of singing was, I realised, very closely linked to my passion for my choir and without it I wasn’t feeling the same.

So, I decided to do something about it and set myself a challenge to perform my own gig. This felt exciting; it was a new challenge for me. It was also the greatest undertaking of lyric-learning I had ever taken on, with around thirty songs in the repertoire. As with any such project, what seems fairly straightforward in the beginning ends up taking a lot of time and patience. I found myself working in the evenings frequently and having more rehearsals than initially anticipated. That said, it was wonderful to gather together a group of musicians and be totally self indulgent, singing songs I have loved for years!

While it’s enjoyable to tackle a repertoire that you enjoy and that challenges you, it's also important to consider your audience and what will make an enjoyable performance for them. With this in mind, I carefully planned the length of the show with three sections giving the audience two short intervals. The third section was shorter than the other two as I always feel it’s better to leave people wanting more rather than have them looking at their watches because they’ve had enough. However good the quality, nobody wants to attend a three hour solo concert! I also decided to involve two other great singers whom I know. This helped to add variety to the performance, give me a bit of a break and we were also then able to do backing vocals for each other. The set up worked well but with seven of us, a hall to hire and other costs it wasn’t an exercise for profit. However, events such as this get you known and show people your capabilities, so can easily lead to further paid work.

What matters to me was that I had a wonderful experience, did something for myself that I enjoy and this in turn made me more confident and passionate again when leading my choir. It was also a great exercise in showing our choir members, many of whom were in the audience, what we do as vocalists.

That’s just my story; there are any numbers of options you can take to get a bit of musical "me time", whether it's performing, composing, arranging or  just listening. It's so important that we, as choir leaders, continue to develop as musicians.  Whatever you choose to do, it can re-ignite your passion for leading your choir. I definitely recommend it!
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