‘Tis the season to be jolly’, but when you’re a choir leader, the run-up to Christmas can quite easily become the season to be stressed and unprepared! It’s a tricky one – you don’t want to be rehearsing Christmas repertoire too early or you and the choir will feel totally fed up with the repertoire by the time the performance actually arrives. At the same time, you do need to be prepared in time to do a good job. Don’t panic. With a bit of preparation and good planning, you can have everything under control and perhaps even manage to enjoy yourself.
Choose performances wisely
At Christmas time it’s all too easy to say yes to everything. The danger is that you will overload yourself and your choir at one of the busiest times of the year. This can result in your not getting the attendance you require at each event. Be realistic and select events based on what you can manage, even if this means saying no to some. Also consider the choir’s enjoyment and what will appeal to them the most. Try to spread out the events you do over the period, avoiding consecutive days if possible. Also consider your rehearsals. If you perform the night before a rehearsal you may find you have low attendance following day.
Plan your rehearsals
Planning is important throughout the year. Well practised, confident singers who know their lyrics will always give a better performance than those who don’t feel ready. If you are working on events prior to Christmas, try introducing Christmas repertoire during that rehearsal period. For example, I have a concert with my choir at the end of November, but started the Christmas songs two weeks ago.
Give your choir lots of information
Don’t forget to relay all the information you have about Christmas gigs to your members as soon as possible. It’s a busy time of year for everyone and their diaries will probably be getting filled up with family and social commitments. If you leave it too late to tell them the dates, they may get booked up. This year, as well as putting the information on our website and sending it by email, we’ve also produced a sheet with a tear-off slip that choir members can use to indicate their availability.
Be realistic with repertoire
It is quite likely that at this time of year you won’t have the benefit of months of rehearsals for songs, so choose repertoire wisely. Try not to bite off more than your choir can chew. Christmas singing is about good cheer and high spirits. If your choir feels confident with a few simple pieces, this feeling is much more likely to come across to the audience. Also, Christmas is a time when audiences love to join in, so anything too obscure may count that out. That’s not to say that an unusual piece which is quirky and unexpected shouldn’t be included. Such pieces are great fun and a wonderful way to show off your fantastic choir at Christmas.
Know what’s expected
From a choir leader’s point of view, Christmas can be a time for making new contacts and performing in new places. If that’s the case for you, make sure you know what’s expected of the choir and what facilities are available. Use our handy performance venue checklist to make sure you don’t miss anything.
Don’t forget next year
Well there’s no rest for a choir leader! In the run-up to the festive season, it’s easy to forget that the new year is only a few weeks away. Get your next season planning done now and you can look forward to a proper rest over the holidays.