We’ve been enjoying some fabulous summer weather here recently. You may be lucky enough to live in a country where glorious warm weather is the norm, but here in the UK we are always appreciative and somewhat surprised by it!
Victoria and I have just two more rehearsals with our choirs before we have a month off in August. Before then we have our village music festival, which I wrote about last week, so we are currently working flat-out to make sure that our choirs are ready for their performances.
However, with all this going on and the dream of our four-week break (only from our choirs, not Total Choir Resources), we need to be very careful not to forget what comes next!
It’s all very well to get everything covered for our July performances and go out on a high, but if we’re not careful we could spend the entire August break planning our next performances, repertoire and doing all sorts of administration ready for September. We want to make sure that we can have a proper break from choir, re-charge our batteries and focus on other things for a while (not least this website).
In the past, we have both been guilty of not planning ahead enough and it’s this experience which has driven us to get better at it. Also, running Total Choir Resources has meant we have to be much more organised with our choirs to make sure we have enough time for everything.
This year we started thinking about the autumn season around Easter. We have a performance for both choirs at the end of September, so once we return to choir we will only have four rehearsals before we’re on stage! We are covering repertoire which we have done before but particularly with our contemporary choir, this means less work for some than others as we have had quite a new influx of members over the last year. We need to make sure the songs are in good shape.
So what have we done to plan ahead? Firstly, we have chosen all the repertoire for our September concerts and made rehearsal tracks available to the choir on our website. We are also covering these songs in our rehearsals before we finish for August, not extensively, but enough to remind the choirs what they’re singing. For both choirs, there is one new piece to learn as the concert we are taking part in involves six choirs who are singing a joint finale. The new piece is a simple arrangement, but nevertherless we are making sure we cover it in rehearsals before the break.
Secondly, we are reminding our singers that the next concert won’t be far away when we return and asking them to take few moments to listen to the rehearsal tracks when they are desperately missing choir! Hopefully, we will be ready and raring to go in September and be able to have an enjoyable experience getting the songs performance ready rather than lots of stress worrying that we’re not quite there.
With the concert at the end of September covered, we haven’t stopped there. We have our next event, which will take place in early November planned and booked. It’s a trip to London to do a workshop with the fabulous Alive and Singing choirs (run by our friend and Total Choir Resources columnist Jamie Serafi). We have booked a coach, produced an information form for members and started taking deposits. We don’t need to have all the final details sorted at this stage, but we’ve got the main plan in place.
So that’s the performance and event side taken care of. What about the administration of the choir? Now is a great time to get everything tidied up and in order. Do you need to go through your register and check whether those who haven’t been attending plan to do so in the future? We have found that people don’t always tell you when they decide to take a break or leave choir and if you’re not careful you can be left with a massive register including names of members who no longer come. If you find yourself in this situation now is a good time to send these members a polite email saying ‘we haven’t seen you for a while, hope you are well, do you plan on returning to choir?’
Also on the administrative side perhaps now is the time to review your fees. Are you happy with your current fee structure? Does the fee administration work smoothly or could it be handled better? After three years of keeping our fee structure the same we have decided to change it from September so are putting everything in place now and letting the choir know of the changes rather than informing them on the first rehearsal back.
Whatever it is you need to do for your choir before taking a break, sorting it out now will make the downtime much more relaxing. After all, a break should be restorative, a chance to have some evenings in or go out and do other things instead of rehearsals. It certainly shouldn’t be about panic and catching up at the last minute. A relaxed, refreshed choir leader with energy and enthusiasm to start the new season is what your choir will appreciate the most.
To recap our top tips are:
1. Plan ahead; think about what performances are taking place after your break and plan the repertoire and rehearsal tracks accordingly.
2. Make sure the administration of the choir is in good shape and up-to-date.
3. Review fees and inform the choir of any new season changes before they break up.
4. Make sure the choir has information on when the new term commences as well as upcoming performance dates.