How to handle singers leaving your choir

If you run a choir for any length of time, you will inevitably have to handle someone leaving. It can be really hard not to take this personally, particularly when you know how much work, passion and effort goes in to making your choir a fantastic experience for its members. Here are my top tips for how to deal with this situation.

Don't shy away

Most people will let you know if they are leaving your choir, some may just disappear (this is more likely to happen in a large choir). Although it can be easy just to accept their resignation and dig no deeper, it's important that you not only thank them for their membership but also that you get an idea of why they are leaving. For the most part this will probably be absolutely nothing to do with you or the choir and they will offer the information anyway. Outside responsibilities with family or work may have to take precedence, perhaps they are moving away from the area. However, it could be that they simply no longer enjoy taking part for whatever reason. Not everyone will offer a truthful reason, perhaps for fear of upsetting you. You can't always know why someone doesn't want to be in the choir anymore.

Accept that things change

When a choir member leaves, it's important that you try to see things from their point of view and not just your own. Most singers join a choir voluntarily because they think it will be fun and fulfilling. Think about the hobbies you have enjoyed; do you do the same thing for years on end or try new things? Sometimes it may be people have greatly enjoyed singing with you but they just want to try something else for a while. Leisure time is precious and not everyone who joins you will want to stay indefinitely. I have several singers who have left my choir to try other ventures who have then ended up recommending the choir to others and I've gained new members from that.

Learn to enjoy change

I think a great joy of running a choir over a period of years is that you see it evolve. You have some members who continue to come year after year and others who come and go. I love meeting all these singers and hearing how the choir develops and changes over time. For me, it keeps things interesting. When someone lets you know they are leaving, always try to be positive and avoid burning bridges. There is absolutely no benefit to getting defensive or angry towards them. Indeed, such behaviour can have a very negative affect on your reputation.

Whether you have a business partner like I do, or you run a choir alone, it's important to have someone you can discuss things with when you need to; someone who isn't in the choir. If someone leaving has upset you, discussing it with a friend or family member can really help you get things off your chest and perhaps see the departure from a different perspective so that you can move on in a positive manner. And, of course, you can always contact us here at Total Choir Resources.
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3 comments

Victoria Hopkins Staff

Hi Mary. Thanks for your comment. You're fortunate never to struggle with taking these things personally, but we know from experience that others do.
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Victoria Hopkins Staff

Hi Greg. I'd do the same as I would for any singers who are struggling to blend, whether they're fantastic solo singers or not - lots of rounds and listening exercises, and mix everyone up as much as possible. Oh, and remind them if that if all they can hear is their own voice, they're definitely too loud!
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Victoria Hopkins Staff

Hi Esther. Wow, that's a big topic, and bit beyond what we can cover in blog comments. You'll find lots of useful articles and podcasts on rehearsal technique and on confidence. Just use the search box on the blog page. If I were you, I would focus on relaxation. The more tense your singers are, the more nervous they'll be about singing out.
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