Embracing your choral competition

If you’re anything like me, the phrase ‘it’s business, not personal’ rarely applies when you’re referring to your choir. I run my choir because I love it and I put great care into the decisions I make and the choices of music. I feel privileged to be able to run a business that is my passion. Even now, I still feel a little overwhelmed at how many people choose to come and spend an evening a week singing at my command! For me, it’s business and personal all rolled into one.

Don’t doubt yourself

It is for that very reason that, back when I began my choir, I felt vulnerable and worried about the presence of other choirs in my local area. I was convinced that by the very next week all my members would have switched ‘teams’, leaving me alone waving my arms in an empty room. Of course I’m exaggerating a bit, but I do remember feeling insecure, and I hope that in this article I can give you some helpful advice that I’ve learned along the way about “the competition”.

When you are developing a choir and trying to find your feet, it can feel threatening to hear that another choir has started up down the road. Before a wave of negativity takes hold, consider that the existence of other choirs in your area shows that there’s a good demand for singing and music-making, which in turn is a great thing for your choir. Secondly, a little competition can help you to raise your game, to keep on top of things and not get complacent, which will make you a better leader.

Nearly eight years down the line, all the other choirs in my area are doing well. Turns out there are enough singers for all of us to thrive and, even better, if one choir doesn’t suit someone there are others down the road that might, so we all benefit from a local pool of enthusiastic singers.

Just be yourself

As a choir leader, you are unique and will have your own take on things. If you stay true to your style and character, those who enjoy it will stick with you and you’ll work together towards common goals. Hard though it can be to accept that you’re not universally approved of, there will be people who just don’t enjoy the way you run your choir or the music that you select. Eventually, they will probably find a different choir to be part of, and that’s fine. Just be yourself.

Play nice

My next tip is to get to know other local choir leaders. You’ll be amazed at how they are just like you: passionate about music and their choir. In our area the choir leaders that we’ve made friends with are lovely and when we meet up at festivals and events we always have a good time. Being in touch also means that we can compare notes on repertoire (vital if we’re performing in events with other choirs) and get help and advice.

Building on relationships with other choir leaders can also lead to some exciting performance opportunities. These might include a large concert, a combined workshop day or a scratch sing event.

Our singers feed off our energy and that’s what keeps them coming back week after week to sing with us. Even if you have critical thoughts about the way another choir is run, keep them to yourself. You’re a professional, after all.

Comments on Embracing your choral competition

  1. Avatar Gill says:

    I also felt encouraged by this article. The community choir I’ve started leading is a daytime choir, so mainly appeals to retired/part-time folk. It’s very new and quite small. There’s another daytime choir which is much larger, but which meets on a different day, and possibly appeals to more self-confident singers, so there’s room for both types of choir. My choir was set up for singing for pleasure, so hasn’t performed yet; I’m hoping to find a low key event for us to have a go at performing once we’ve got a bit bigger/more confident.

    1. Christine Mulgrew Christine Mulgrew says:

      Thanks for your message Gill, I’m really pleased that the article helped you feel encouraged about your choir. Good luck with your first performance planning, we’d love to hear how you get on.

  2. Avatar Valerie says:

    I loved your article about embracing your choral competition. My choir is made up of people who are of pensionable age (as I am). We are a community choir who have two concerts are year. All the articles are really inspiring to me (a former school music teacher).

    Thank you very much indeed.

    I look forward to receiving your e mails.

    Kind regards,


    1. Avatar Victoria Hopkins says:

      Thanks for your kind words, Valerie. We’re very glad you enjoy the website.

    2. Christine Mulgrew Christine Mulgrew says:

      Thanks for your lovely email Valerie. Delighted you enjoy our articles. We wish you every success with your choir.

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