World Choir Games Flanders 2023

How to find a suitable choir to join

  • [The views expressed in this blog are from my personal experiences from 25 years of leading non-auditioned community choirs in the UK, as well as adult singing workshops. My focus is on teaching by ear using a repertoire of songs from traditions across the globe. Your experiences may differ from mine, so do feel free to leave a comment and let's begin a conversation! A version of this article first appeared as a post on my blog From the Front of the Choir]

     

    Someone was looking to find choirs in our area. They Googled a bit, but they didn’t find my choir even though it’s mentioned on several websites.

     

     

    This made me realise that there’s an art to Googling choirs and maybe some directories that people don’t know about. Here’s a guide to finding the right choir for you.

    Google doesn’t know everything

    Many people don’t realise that Google’s algorithm takes into account all the searches that you have personally done in the past. Which means that when you type a search term in, you might get different results from your friends. It means that it’s biased and may miss some things that might be useful to you.

    One solution is to choose your search terms carefully (see below), another is to use another search engine like DuckDuckGo which doesn’t take account of your search history.

    are you looking for the right thing?

    The first step is to try the name of your town (or district within a larger city) and the word choir.

    Not every singing group is called a ‘choir’ though. My group, for instance, is called The OK Chorale. In the past I’ve led groups with names like Woven Chords, Global Harmony and WorldSong, and many formal choirs are called Choral Societies.

    If your first search doesn’t throw up much, you might try singing instead of choir or maybe even choral. To widen it even further put your county or nearest big city in (it may mean you have to travel further though). Play around with combinations of these terms.

    look in a choir directory

    There are many websites which are basically listings of choirs. Here in the UK they include British Choirs on the Net and Gerontius. You can usually search by town or county. These listings are only as good as their entries. If a choir doesn’t bother to submit to them or keep their entry up to date, then the information isn’t much use.

    If you want a particular type of choir or singing group, then you might try a network like the Natural Voice Network (mainly covers the UK) or the Ubuntu Choirs Network (for North America). These both have listings of choirs that you can search by location. There are also directories of barbershop choirs and I’m sure other types too.

    Often your local town council will maintain a website of community groups and activities. We also have a privately run website which lists all the leisure activities in our area. You can find these by Googling “what’s on” plus your location. You might also stumble across choir performances here and discover a choir that you hadn’t found by other means.

    not everything is on the internet

    Not every choir has a website (although that’s quite rare these days) and not every choir bothers to get themselves listed in on-line directories. Sometimes you have to go hunting in the real world!

    Your local library will almost certainly have a folder of local activities. But again, this is only useful if the information is up to date.

    Wander around town and look for concert posters. Check local cafes and other community spaces for noticeboards.

    You might stumble across other music activities which are not about singing. Even so, ask the people involved and they many know about singing groups.

    it might just not be there

    You might come up empty handed. It may be that you’ve not looked in the right place, but it may also mean that there are no appropriate choirs for you near your location. There might be a rock choir, but you may prefer a choral society. There may be a singing for fun group, but you may want to perform.

    Or there may be no choirs at all.

    In which case, why not start one? You can set one up and run it yourself (see How to start your own community choir), but you don’t have to be a choir leader to start one (see How to set up a choir if you’re not a choir leader), just someone who wants to sing.

    I’ve known choirs start from people attending a one-off singing workshop then persuading the leader to set up a regular group.

    is your own choir visible?

    Back to the introduction: although my own choir doesn’t need to publicise much (we have a waiting list and only do one performance a year) I was surprised that we weren’t more easily found on the web.

    Using a search engine that doesn’t take your search history into account (see above), check what pops up by doing a general choir search in your area. Is your choir listed? If not, why not? You may need to tweak things on your website or get yourself listed in some other directories. This is especially important if you need to recruit new singers. If they can’t find you, they won’t join!

     

     

     

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    Chris Rowbury

    website: chrisrowbury.com
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