How to integrate new singers into your choir
Recruiting new singers into an established choir is a balancing act. You want to make the choir accessible to newbies, but you don’t want to bore the old hands. You also have many other considerations about what you rehearse and when. Here are few tips to help you deal with integrating new choir members.
You don’t need to wait for people to ask to join the choir. Open rehearsals or ‘come and sing’ events are a great way to attract new blood. When you hold this kind of event, it can be designed with prospective members in mind. You can spend more time than usual on ice-breakers and warm-ups, then move onto easy songs that give quick results.
Be careful when you let new people in
If you welcome new members outside a planned event, be cautious about where you are in the choir’s season. It might be best to avoid having new people join just before a performance; they may feel overwhelmed and worried that they can’t meet the choir’s standard. Conversely, although a new member will feel right at home if everyone’s learning something new, they might not get the best impression of the choir because rehearsals of new repertoire can feel a bit plodding at times (although there are techniques you can use to combat that).
Stick to your plan
If you have a plan for your choir’s season of rehearsals (and I hope you do!), don’t let yourself be derailed by the presence of new singers. Of course, you want to be welcoming and friendly, and you want that new person to feel at home as quickly as possible, but you can’t start re-learning repertoire for the benefit of one person. This is the time to encourage your new singer to take advantage of any additional resources you provide to your choir, such as rehearsal tracks. You could even simply recommend that they listen to the repertoire on YouTube. It all helps.
Be up-front about possible challenges
If someone joins the choir at a less than optimum time, such as close to a performance, be candid about potential problems. You could suggest that they join in the rehearsals, but skip the performance, for example. Make it clear that your new recruit is welcome and wanted in the choir, but that they might encounter a few bumps along the way before they feel like they’re truly part of the team. Forewarned is forearmed.
Finally, I’d just like to give you this reminder (and I know it’s one of my soapboxes): you can’t please everyone. Your choir has an ethos and a style that won’t be to everyone’s taste. You will probably, occasionally, have new recruits who simply aren’t a good fit for the choir, and vice versa. Let those people go, with your thanks and good wishes. Don’t take it personally – as long as most people in your choir are happy and enthusiastic, you must be doing something right.