Don’t underestimate the knowledge you can give to your choir members

Last weekend, I ran a workshop for twenty singers called Contemporary Singing for Beginners. I made the workshop a combination of basic vocal techniques as well as some group singing because I knew that those taking part would be anxious about solo singing. At the end, some of the participants told me what a revelation these techniques had been to them and how they had never realised there was so much scope for improving their voices. Like many novices, they had assumed that you can either sing or you can’t.

I realised that because I’ve been teaching vocal techniques for a long time, I had forgotten myself what a difference they can make to singers, particularly those just starting out and exploring their voices. I think I had even become a little concerned that when I ran these kinds of workshops, I was stating the obvious. I went away from the workshop feeling extremely really positive, knowing that the knowledge and experience I have gained is helpful to others.

We all have our own unique expertise. It might be vocal technique, music theory, a particular style or genre, or the ability to nurture team spirit. Take some time to think about your own skills as a choir leader and note down the things you can offer your singers already. You may be surprised at how much knowledge you already have that you might be taking for granted. You can also jot down areas you’d like to improve on, whether that’s building on existing knowledge or tackling something completely new.

Once you have identified what your specialist areas are, think about how you can apply them in choir rehearsals or workshops to help your singers develop. For example, when was the last time you went back to basics and spent some time with your singers on posture and breathing? Perhaps you could include some exercises to renew your choir’s focus on their breathing, then apply those exercises to some of your repertoire. The result may be an absolute lightbulb moment for your singers. Developing your singers will not only improve their voices and sound as a choir, it will also be more rewarding for you and will keep singers coming to your choir as they learn and develop with you.

Comments on Don’t underestimate the knowledge you can give to your choir members

  1. Avatar Pato Podo says:

    Good point. Very simple and completely true!

    1. Christine Mulgrew Christine Mulgrew says:

      Thanks Pato, glad you enjoyed the article.

  2. Avatar Heather Dack says:

    Thank you We don’t always realise how much we teach our choir members.
    Yesterday a young girl in my Primary school Choir told me that by coming to choir her singing had improved She is in year 4. I left the rehearsal with a smile and a warmed heart!
    Heather. Dack

    1. Our Quartett is luckily coached by “the grand old Lady of Barbershop in Germany”, Mrs. Elisabeth Doehring. She brought Barbershop singing to Germany in the late 70ies of the last century – as far as I know. She was the choir leader of “Barbershop Blend” the first German Ladies’ Barbershop Choir. She has my absolute respect! While she is coaching us, I experience exactly that “wow” feeling about what she is able to do with my voice and about that she is able to let us sing the “ringing chords” not always but often even with audible overtones. A great experience everytime she comes to see us. ….

      1. Christine Mulgrew Christine Mulgrew says:

        Thanks Martina,

        It sounds like you have a very exciting learning experience with this lady.

    2. Christine Mulgrew Christine Mulgrew says:

      Hi Heather,

      I think it’s those moments that make it all worthwhile. Having a postive impact on someone’s singing confidence is an amazing thing. So many of my older members tell me they avoided singing for many years due to negative comments when they were younger so it’s great to make a positive impact on a younger person’s life. Hopefully with the interest you’ve sparked they will continue singing.

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