When you start a choir there are many decisions to make: What type of music will you sing? When will you meet? How much will rehearsals cost? What venue will you use? In addition to these things, you need to decide what you will expect from singers in terms of vocal experience and ability and whether you will audition your new members before you let them join the choir. There’s no right or wrong answer to this question. What’s right for one choir may not be for another. In this article I look at some of the questions you might ask yourself when considering this issue.
1.What is the purpose of your choir?
Embarking on a new choir project is exciting and no doubt your mind will be busy with lots of ideas. When deciding whether or not to audition members, it is important that you consider the ‘why’. Ask yourself why you want to start the choir in the first place and what you want to achieve. If the answer is to create a community-based group that brings people together to share an enjoyment of singing and make new friends within the local area, then an ‘open to all’ policy is probably best. If however, you aim is to create a choir that performs a specific style of music, or which will compete, then you might want to consider holding auditions. Having a vision for your choir is important, so start as you mean to go on.
2. How big will you choir be?
This can be an unknown quantity in the beginning as you need to build your reputation, spread the word and attract new members. All kinds of things can affect the size of your choir. Your venue may be restricted to a certain capacity, you may want a smaller group to make it easier for you to perform in a range of venues or you may feel ‘the more the merrier’.
Don’t forget that auditioning takes time. If you want to have a small choir, it will be fairly easy to find the time to conduct auditions. If, however, you want to build a larger choir, you’ll need to factor in the time and cost of conducting ongoing auditions.
3. What will you expect from your singers?
If you decide to run an unauditioned choir, diversity in musical ability is part and parcel of your choir’s ethos, and some would say half the fun. Over time, you’ll see singers develop. Those with more experience and confidence will help others around them. It’s incredibly rewarding to see new, nervous singers blossom into confident performers.
If you decide to audition your choir, it’s reasonable to have more expectations of your singers. You may want a particular level of music-reading or sight-reading ability. Obviously, you have to balance your wishes and expectations with the demographic of the area in which you’re basing your choir.
4. Are you prepared to prepared to turn people down?
If you conduct auditions, it’s almost inevitable that at some point, someone will audition who doesn’t make the grade. It’s not pleasant for either auditioner or auditionee, but if you go down that road, you have to be prepared to say ‘no’. If you don’t think that’s for you, then an un-auditioned choir that’s open to all may be a better fit for you.