Taking a break from choir? How to get the most from your time off: Part 1

Over the summer, many choir leaders prepare to take a break for a few weeks. Busy people that we are, the thought of a break can be rather pleasant – a time to relax and re-charge ready for a new season.

Tempting as it can be to start winding down in the run-up to a break, I’m going to suggest some top tips for pre-break preparations, a final push to conquer your workload so that you can enjoy your time off to the full, instead of panicking the week before choir resumes. Now, these tips are sometimes realistic, sometimes idealistic, but cover as many as you can and you’ll be setting yourself up for an enjoyable break.

Administration

The administrative side of running a choir can be time-consuming, especially with a large group. Having processes in place that save time and keep everything in order are vital, but even with the best-laid plans, things can become out of date or you can find yourself falling behind. To avoid a summer spent on admin, why not put aside a few hours (or however long you think you need) before the break to get everything straight?

Start with records, like registers, databases and mailing lists. You might have members who have left the choir, but who are still receiving emails and notices. If so, you will need to remove their names and take them off the email list.

You may also have people on your register who have not attended for some time and have not been in touch. Perhaps it’s time to put those people on the spot and find out what their plans are. Email all those who haven’t been attending with a friendly note along the lines of ‘we’ve missed you at choir, are you still planning to come along?’ This way you’ll know where you are and can get your email lists and registers up-to date ready for the new term.

Following on from checking possibly lapsed memberships, if you then have space, you can invite those on your waiting list to join the choir for the new term.

Finances

You may also have financial admin to take care of. This always seems the easiest job to put off during a busy term, but by getting everything up to date you will feel very pleased with yourself and avoid that nagging feeling in the back of your mind that there is bookkeeping to do!

It’s also a good idea to do some budgeting in preparation for any new season. Have any of your standing costs gone up? Should you be thinking about raising the choir’s subscriptions or membership fees? It’s easy to overlook small increases in costs and assume that they don’t have much of an impact on the overall finances, but a few increases here and there can be the difference between solvency and insolvency. This applies whether you run your choir as a business or non-profit – you still have to keep your head above water.

If you have stocks, such as refreshments, folders or uniform, it’s also a good idea to check through these and make sure all is ready for the new season. If you’re holding a lot of repertoire stock that you won’t use again, is it worth selling or donating?

Next time, we’ll look at rehearsal and performance planning.

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