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.
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.