How to look professional in front of your choir

It doesn’t matter whether you teach a small, informal gathering of singers or a huge chorus; it’s important to look professional and lead your singers to the best of your ability. Not only does this reflect well on you, it will also make you feel more fufilled by the job.

I’m not suggesting that in order to lead a choir you have to know everything there is to know about choral singing, music theory, performance and teaching. What I’m saying is that when running a choir, it’s important to have a passion, a vision of what you see the choir achieving. Then you can plan rehearsals and repertoire with your singers’ enjoyment and development in mind.

So how can we ensure we look and feel professional when we lead our choirs? Here are some top tips.

Be punctual and organised

It goes without saying that being on time is important and a key element of making you appear organised to your members. Giving yourself enough time before rehearsals to get set up is crucial and will also stop you feeling flustered. Set-up includes tasks like making sure the room is laid out as you wish, organising your rehearsal notes and repertoire, even laying out refreshments if that falls to you. Over time, you may be lucky enough to be able to enlist helpers from the choir who can come early to assist you with this.

Act confident

You may not always feel confident in front of your choir (this can take time) but sounding confident is crucial if you are to win your singers over. Strangely, I’ve always found that the more confident I sound, the more confident I feel! If you have a well organised rehearsal plan in front of you this will help you to feel more sure of yourself. When planning your rehearsal, bear timings in mind and perhaps jot down how long you want to work on each task. This will help you ensure you cover what you need to, and don’t allow time to run away with you.

Look the part

Whether you lead your choir as a business, as a hobby or out of duty, having a brand or identity looks very professional. My choir wear t-shirts when they perform with our logo on them. Although I don’t expect them to wear these to each rehearsal, I do wear a branded t-shirt. I find that wearing this uniform mentally puts me in ‘work’ mode as I get ready, it re-inforces the brand of the choir and makes me easy to identify at rehearsals.

Know your repertoire

It sounds obvious, but sometimes it can be very easy to get a little complacent, especially when we have a very busy week and think that we don’t need to revise repertoire ahead of rehearsal. If you’ve ever had that awful feeling when you stand in front of your choir and realise there are elements of the piece you didn’t look at recently and aren’t sure of (I say this from experience), it’s not pleasant. When you start a new piece, you need to ensure lots of preparation time so that you fully understand the shape of the piece, the individual parts and how you would like it to be delivered. After that main learning it’s still imporatnt that you revise the repertoire before rehearsals to ensure all is in place and that you or the choir don’t slip into bad habits. I usually feel that once a song is driving me up the wall I’ve spent enough time working on it!

We’d love to hear from you if you have any tips or suggestions for look professional in front of your choir.

Comments on How to look professional in front of your choir

  1. Avatar Richard Nott says:

    Hi. I look forward to my Friday email from you as I can often put some element of it into practice that evening.

    I was asked to take just a couple of rehearsals for a good 4 part Anglican parish choir. Two rehearsals was fine, but that was 18 months ago and I’m still there! The difficulties I have faced centre around me not being Anglican, so not being used to the liturgies and music; Stanford in Bb with Smith responses meant nothing! One of the other problems was my being Director of Music at a Catholic church 25 miles away, so I couldn’t worship with my ‘new’ choir on a Sunday. Being able to do so would have been so useful in many ways. Planning the rehearsals for the choir took most of the day as I tried immersing myself in their music. I started seeing some similarities between both church’s music, and I was able to cross-pollenate ideas from both choirs.

    I still flounder with the Anglican music and rehearsing it the way “it should be done” and not my way, but there are times when my fresh pair of eyes bring something out that always been missed.

    The choir is very good, so I thought that they needed pushing. I’ve introduced termly choral Evensong, we’ve recorded a CD of Christmas music for sale at the church, and we’re doing a concert next year. We were also asked to sing Matins at the Cathedral for a particular occasion. That was very scary for me, but the choir pulled it out of the hat. We’ve been asked to do it again next year!

    It’s very interesting working with choirs of two different traditions, and I am learning a huge amount… are they!

    Thank you for all the encouragement you give us. I can’t always use all of your ideas in a church environment, but that doesn’t mean we have don’t have fun!

    Best wishes


    1. Avatar Victoria Hopkins says:

      Hi Richard. It sounds like you’ve had a really steep learning curve with this choir, but the results are obviously very pleasing. Thank you for your kind words about the website.

  2. I find its really important for a choir like mine, where every rehearsal is open to new members, that I have music, folders, registration forms etc. ready to go. Particularly if newcomers enter late having resources ready to hand to them is important.
    We also use an iPad app tracking system to keep a record of attendance. As members enter they check off their name – this helps me gauge who has rehearsed each piece and plan ahead.
    I also find that having a structured warm-up section which gives variety as well as working on technique keeps people’s attention and ensures I look prepared.
    I also write a rehearsal plan for every rehearsal so I know exactly what I want to cover.

    1. Avatar Victoria Hopkins says:

      Hi Jason. It sounds like you’ve created a really efficient system.

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