We all need a holiday from time to time, but taking a break from running your choir can be one of the hardest things to do. When I was starting out, I used to work straight through the year, barely taking any time off, but I learned that that wasn't doing me, or my choir, any favours.
Breaks benefit your effectiveness as a choir leader
Perhaps the most significant effect I found from not taking a break was on my own drive and enthusiasm. I love leading my choir and enjoy everything that goes with it, but the endless cycle of rehearsals started to de-motivate me. A couple of times I found myself falling into what we call a 'choir rut': I felt completely uninspired. If that situation had been allowed continue, it would undoubtedly have had an impact on my connection with my singers and on the quality of my rehearsals. Now that my choir has regular breaks throughout the year, I feel much more inspired and refreshed. When I come back. I have a renewed drive to lead my choir.
Breaks give structure to your choir year
People come to my choir as a hobby and I think that when I ran continually, some found constant rehearsals too much of a commitment. We were able to see this from our attendance which would drop considerably over the summer months when we didn't take a break and at half terms or end of term breaks. A few years down the line I now run my choir term time only, meaning we follow the school calendar taking the full term and half term breaks including a summer break. This fits in perfectly with my being a Mum and seems also to have gone down well with the choir.
Breaks may boost your attendance levels
If you run your choir as a business and rely on the income from it, you may be thinking this all sounds well and good, but what about the loss in revenue? What we noticed looking through our figures was that without a holiday there were some serious dips in attendance, particularly in the summer months. Taking breaks has boosted the post-break attendance. For us, it hasn't damaged the choirs financially. If it isn't feasible for your choir to take breaks, perhaps you can find a deputy to stand in. Alternatively you could consider changing your pay structure. For example, if you run your choir with a 'pay as you go' system, could you instead charge monthly or termly?
Remember to down tools completely
In these days of constant communication, it can be tempting to keep up with emails, messages and comments throughout your choir's break period. Try to give yourself a complete break. You can't be on the clock the whole time and your choir shouldn't expect that. Warn the choir that you'll be out of contact for a while, put a holiday message on your email, let calls go to voicemail and enjoy your time off. It will all still be there when you get back!