How to build a choir community - Total Choir Resources

How to build a choir community

Belonging to a choir gives our singers so much more than the opportunity to make music. It’s a chance to meet new friends, feel a sense of belonging, relax and leave any worries at the door for a couple of hours a week. It’s a very rewarding part of your job as a leader when you see your choir playing such a significant role in people’s lives. It also makes the job more enjoyable when you feel that sense of connection with a group. But how do you create this community in the first place and how vital is it to the success of your choir? Here are tips for good choir cohesion.

Be available

Take the time to be welcoming and sociable yourself. Arrive at rehearsals early enough to greet your singers and have a brief chat. Even if you’re not involved in managing the choir that you lead, you need to know your singers and understand their motivations and preferences. Endeavour to learn people’s names and use their name when addressing them to show that you know and value them. Remembering names is a real challenge for some people, but it’s important to find a method that works for you.

Take a break

Not only does this give you a few moments to relax, it also enables your choir members to socialise and catch up on news. This might seem quite trivial, but it’s important for your singers to feel that they belong. Imagine a new singer joining the choir for the first time and knowing no one. How will they integrate and make new friends if there’s no time to talk to anyone? As well as promoting a sociable choir, allowing time for a break also makes it easier for you to insist on quiet during the rehearsal.

Mix up

It’s human nature to seek out the familiar and comfortable. This often leads choir members to sit in the same place each week, next to the same people. This is entirely understandable, but can lead to complacency and can also be intimidating for new singers. You can help people get to know each other a bit better by mixing them up, either for a warm-up or during the rehearsal.  Allow them a few moments to introduce themselves to their new neighbours. The change will help your singers musically as well as socially as they hear different voices around them.

Socialise

Arrange social events for the choir in addition to performances. We generally hold summer and Christmas events, bringing both of our choirs together. Although the organisation can be time-consuming, we think it’s well worth it when we see everyone enjoying themselves. There are many different options you can choose depending on the size of your choir. We usually like to involve family and friends too. We have done everything from formal dinners with a live band to summer picnics and open mic nights. If social organisation really isn’t your thing, you could ask a group of choir members to get together and plan an event, or you could simply pick a date and invite everyone to meet at a certain bar/pub/cafe. Whatever kind of social event you favour, we suggest canvassing opinion from the choir in advance. There’s no point in going to a huge amount of trouble organising something that your choir members don’t want to attend.

All these tips help to create a sense of community and belonging for your choir, which will naturally lead to a more enjoyable experience for them and better rehearsals and performances for you. When singers enjoy their choir experience and feel valued, they’re much more likely to make a long term commitment and attract others to the choir too.

Christine Mulgrew

Christine Mulgrew

Christine is a contemporary choir leader who loves to help novice and nervous singers find their voice.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below
Celia Hart - last year Reply

The choir I lead like to have a party at the end of every term in someone’s house or garden, with bring and share food, which is always a real spread! This has come from them and there is no shortage of offers of accommodation! We usually sing through songs we’ve learnt during the term and some old favourites

    Christine Mulgrew
    Christine Mulgrew - last year Reply

    Hi Celia, thant sounds like a lovely get together and a great way to end the term.

Lyn - last year Reply

We had a great social event last year and are planning a repeat. We had contacts who have a string group who play Scottish music, so we had a mixture of choir performances, ceilidh music and dancing, plus we all brought some food. Great night!

    Christine Mulgrew
    Christine Mulgrew - last year Reply

    Thanks Lyn,

    That’s a great idea, Im thinking my choir would definitely enjoy such an event. Thanks for the suggestion.

Chris Owenby - last year Reply

Great tips, Christine! We’re in our slowest season here in the states, but I look forward to implementing these strategies in just a few weeks! Thanks for sharing.

    Christine Mulgrew
    Christine Mulgrew - last year Reply

    THanks Chris,
    Glad you found the article helpful. Good luck with your new choir season.

Maddie Cordes - 4 years ago Reply

Great tips Christine and I’d agree with all of them. Here are a few other things I do:

When welcoming people at the start of the session, I welcome people back eg good to have Debbie back who’s just finished a show, good to see Janice as we know she’s busy preparing for her wedding, good to have Marie back who’s not been well. I also let them know when choir members have told me they can’t attend for a while eg Martina apologies she can’t be there as she’s in Paris visiting the grandchildren. Members often want me to pass messages on like that which means that they do feel part of the choir community and don’t want to be forgotten or to let the rest of the group down. Not everyone knows info about people’s lives outside choir and this gives them common ground for a chat with that person in that few minutes’ break you talked about. If members are involved in events, either fundraising or performance related, I am happy to have their flyers available and/or mention their event briefly in the notices. Again it brings a flavour of people’s wider lives into the choir community.

Although we don’t have a formal break as only do an hour’s session, when we run two hour workshops (Mamma Mia and American Songstresses of the 1970s so far) we have a tea/coffee/biscuit break and I’ve noticed this really does help to create a sense of community. We invite the public to this not just choir members and I give them a quiz on the theme to do in the break with a prize like half their workshop fee back, and ask them to talk to someone they didn’t know before that evening in completing it. I can see that choir members like talking to newcomers about the choir and feel proud that they belong to the community – I also assign visitors to the choir to well established members to act as buddies during their first evening – helping with music, sitting between members, introducing them by name. Again choir members love certain songs and share that with visitors, which all helps them feel at home. We had one lady crying on her first visit as she had lost her husband and a particular song moved her, both ladies either side hugged her and we all remember that special moment which again helped bond the group.

    Christine Mulgrew
    Christine Mulgrew - 4 years ago Reply

    Hi Maddie,

    Thank you for your suggestions, some brilliant ideas. We particularly love the idea of new members being assigned a buddy to help them settle in to choir.

Leave a Comment: