International Choir Festival InCanto Mediterraneo

What sort of a choir are you? Ten attributes that define your choir

  • [This article first appeared as a post on my blog Chorus of Approval]


    Choir Definition

    This post was prompted by communications with a choir that has recently started up and needed some help. As I started drawing up a list of points to talk about, I was fascinated to see how they defined and characterised the choir.

    So, my ten attributes that define a choir:

    1. Purpose

    What is the purpose of your choir? Some choirs are formed for a specific reason, for instance ‘project choirs’ which come together to celebrate an event or perform a work, or church choirs that provide music for services. Other choirs may exist simply to provide a musical outlet to promote singing and the social and health benefits that come with it.

    2. Concerts

    Are you a ‘three concerts a year’ choir, or do you perform at functions and events? Or are you a group who get together for the joy of singing and do not want to perform in public?

    3. Membership

    What defines the membership of your choir? Are members auditioned? Are there specific characteristics of the membership, e.g. a work place choir, a male voice choir, a lesbian and gay choir? How many members do you want? You may be a chamber choir with a limit on numbers for each voice part, or your rehearsal venue may provide a natural cap on numbers. Or maybe you may have no limits?

    4. Voicing

    Do you have formal voice parts such as SATB (soprano alto tenor bass), TTBB or SSAA? Do you sing in more ad-hoc groupings, maybe upper, middle and lower?

    5. Accompaniment

    Do you sing accompanied or unaccompanied? If you are accompanied do you use a piano, an organ or a guitar? Or you may have an accompanying band, or use an orchestra for performances?

    6. Copies (scores/word sheets)

    Do you use scores, or do you work from word sheets? Do you write words on a flip chart or project onto a wall or screen? If you perform, do you sing from music, wordsheets or from memory?

    7. Musical leadership

    Do you have a musical director or are you lead by people from within the choir? Is your choir conducted, either formally or informally, or do you follow an instrument or simply work together?

    8. Repertoire

    Do you sing a specific repertoire? Do you work your way through the classical repertoire, or are you a rock choir, or maybe a choir that specialises in Georgian polyphony or madrigals? Or do you pride yourselves on singing a little bit of everything?

    9. Organisation

    How are you organized? Are you a constituted society, or an ad-hoc group of friends. Do you have charitable status or are you part of a franchised choir group? Do you charge choir members, either by the term or by the session? Do you have an elected committee or a paid choir administrator?

    10. When do you meet?

    Are you a ‘7:30 pm every Tuesday’ choir, or a ‘2:30 pm every second Sunday of the month’ choir? Or do you arrange the next session at the end of each rehearsal? Do you sing all year round, or keep to school terms?

    Even a quick scan through this list demonstrates how diverse choirs can be. This may be an interesting list for people either trying to set up, or join a choir! Can you think of other attributes that you would say characterise a choir?

3,400 views - 2 comments - Post Comment
  • Kitty Babcock
    Kitty Babcock This is a good check list for new choirs to follow.
    November 5, 2014
  • Martin Jones
    Martin Jones Thank you Kitty, I'm glad you liked it!
    November 5, 2014
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