How to introduce new styles of repertoire to your choir

As choir leaders we always want to be looking forward, developing our choirs and creating exciting, memorable rehearsals and performances for our singers. One great way to do this is to try new styles of repertoire. Here are our top tips for introducing these to your choir and ensuring a smooth running experience as you embark on something new and exciting.

Know your music inside out

When attempting new styles of repertoire, or more demanding repertoire, it’s vital to allow yourself enough time to become fully aquainted with the music and all the vocal parts. Think about how you will tackle the piece. Will you start at the beginning and work through, or will you take sections and piece it all together? Make sure you are familiar with all the parts. Look for patterns and repetitions that will help your choir learn the piece without feeling overwhelmed. If your singers feel that you know what you are doing, they will be much more confident about learning it.

Everything is possible

When taking a new style or piece to your choir, show them your excitement and confidence, even if you are nervous about their reaction. Show them that you are taking them on a musical journey. Of course, you may meet some resistance; some people find change very difficult. Don’t be deterred, stay positive and stick to your plan.

Allow enough time

When planning performances, make sure you have enough time to properly rehearse challenging new repertoire. Be realistic about what you can do in the time you have, remembering that new or more complicated repertoire will take longer to learn. If you carefully plan your rehearsals, you can build confidence among your singers. As a choir leader, you will also feel calmer and more in control if you know you that have adequate time to achieve a sucessful performance.

Keep your singers in the loop

As you go through your weeks of rehearsal, keep in touch with your singers. A group email after rehearsal thanking everyone for their hard work and reminding them of what was covered is always a good idea. This also gives those not attending a chance to catch up or a nudge to make sure they attend rehearsals to keep up to date with progress. In addition, if you have rehearsal tracks available, you could let your singers know what you will cover in the following session if your rehearsal planning allows.

Share examples

When working on a different style of music you could suggest other similar pieces or artists in that style for your members to listen to at home. This will help grow their undertsanding and hopefully appreciation of the style and help develop their familiarity and enjoyment of it.

Comments on How to introduce new styles of repertoire to your choir

  1. Avatar Jill says:

    To give our U3A choir confidence about new pieces I sometimes send a recorded version by email if I can find a suitable one for a sing-a-long in the privacy of their own homes! Then we may “Karaoke” it for fun when we meet before we begin to learn our version of it.

    My two aims for the coming year:

    to build up enthusiasm for singing in harmony – greatly encouraged by rounds and simple part songs. Everyone loves to sing the tune so I have worked out the best way forward with this is to nominate a small section of the choir to do another part (but not the same group all the time and not for a whole song) or sometimes just our men may carry a simple harmony

    to learn some songs from memory – the score/words can become a security blanket!

    1. Christine Mulgrew Christine Mulgrew says:

      Hi Jill,
      Thanks for your feedback, some great goals there for the coming months, good luck with it all. :)

  2. Avatar Graham says:

    Thanks for this article. Yet another pointer or two – very helpful.

    1. Christine Mulgrew Christine Mulgrew says:

      Thanks Graham, glad you liked the article.

  3. Avatar Anne says:

    My resources are limited and I have an arrangement of The Water is Wide and Bring me a Little Water Sylvie. It is very nice. I am wondering if there arrangement will work with grades 4 and 5.

    1. Avatar Victoria Hopkins says:

      Hi Anne. It’s a bit difficult to assess repertoire without knowing the arrangement or the choir. Plus, we’re not particularly experienced with children’s choirs. The best suggestion I can make is to try it out, if you think it’s within their capabilities.

  4. Avatar Valerie Summers says:

    Thank you so much for the article on how to introduce new styles to your choir. There is so much in that article that will help me and my choir. Especially the part about confidence. Valerie

    1. Avatar Victoria Hopkins says:

      You’re welcome Valerie

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