Running a successful choir is massively rewarding. Seeing new singers come though the door, particularly in the early stages of the choir, is a huge boost to your confidence as a choir leader. If you run your choir as a business, new members also mean increased revenue and stability. However, have you ever considered the ideal size of your choir both for you and your singers? Here are five reasons to do just that.
The dynamic of a choir changes depending on how many attend. A choir of thirty is relatively small and familiar as members will soon get to know each other. A choir of fifty is a different dynamic again. There is perhaps less overall familiarity but more energy and a bigger sound. A choir of 100 plus provides a gigantic wall of sound although members may only be familiar with those in their sections due to the volume of singers. There is no right or wrong type of choir but if you start as one type and change into another beware that some of your members may not like this dynamic change and could move on.
When thinking about capacity for your choir there is probably a fire regulation at your venue stating maximum numbers so make sure that you are aware of this. Aside from that think about the space, how many people can comfortably enjoy an evening singing in your choir? When I teach my choir, I am very comfortable with the average of 50 – 55 singers who come along and I think they are too. Occasionally this increases and I really notice the difference when numbers go above 60. There is more noise, it’s harder within the space to fit everyone in and I am much more tired after the rehearsal which I find less enjoyable. Of course, if you want to increase the size of your choir that’s fine but perhaps it’s worth considering a change of venue rather than shoe-horning everyone in. Don’t forget to do your sums though – a bigger venue probably means a bigger overhead.
Keep sections balanced
It’s a good idea to keep track of your members and how many singers are in each section. The danger of letting everyone join is that you can find yourself with too many on one part meaning that the overall balance of the choir is not right. Not only do we have a waiting list when the choir is at full capacity, but we also assess the sections which have more singers. For a long time we only accepted tenors as we had so many fewer of them than altos and sopranos. This has paid off as we now have a fairly even spread making the sound and harmonies so much more balanced. This in turn makes the choir experience more enjoyable and satisfying for the members.
Being exclusive can create excitement
Don’t panic about putting people on a waiting list. Being a popular choir will create a sense of exclusivity and will make existing members proud to have their place. People who hear about the choir and ask to go on the waiting list will know there’s something worth waiting for. Make sure you are honest with them about the possible waiting time and keep them posted. If you have their email address you can also let them know about upcoming performances and workshops which they may like to attend in the meantime. If you have a waiting list, make sure you keep on top of attendance for existing members. If someone hasn’t attended for a long time, drop them an email. They may have a genuine reason and want to return which is fine or they may just have left without telling you, in which case you can offer a place to someone else.
Don’t be afraid to say no
Saying “no” can be extremely hard when you run your own choir, you’re enthusiastic and want to encourage all singers. Remember your vision for the choir, you know what works and what needs to be done to make it the best it can be. If you get the right number, the right balance of singers and the right feel in your venue your choir will be a great success and people won’t mind waiting a little bit to join. Of course you always have the option to start another one!