International Choir Festival InCanto Mediterraneo

Don’t let your choir leader do all the work – realise how capable you are as a singer

  • [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]

     

    There are some great choral conductors and singing workshop leaders out there. They get the very best out of their singers.

     

    photo by U.S. Army

     

    The downside is that singers can end up believing that they can’t do it without them. It’s time to acknowledge how capable you are as a singer in your own right.

    Week after week your choir leader takes you through vocal training exercises, hones your listening skills, teases out your singing voice, leads you through complex harmonies, guides you towards performance level, and generally brings out the best in you.

    Many choir leaders seem to be magicians – they manage to coax an amazing sound out of a disparate bunch of people.

    Yes, they are good at their job, but the danger is that – as a singer – you might start to believe that you can’t do it without them. That it’s them and not you who makes this amazing sound.

    Time to step up and acknowledge your own contribution.

    It’s a two-way relationship: singers need their leader to help them, but a choral director is nothing without singers.

    Once a good choir leader has done their job, then the singers can shine on their own.

    There are plenty of egos in the choral world, but my personal view is that our job as choir leaders is to get out of the way and set the singing free.

    Unfortunately the common view is that it’s a bit like the movies: if the film is great, then it’s down to the director. If the film is bad, then it’s because the actors are rubbish.

    If a concert goes really well, it’s the director who gets the bouquet of flowers at the end. If it’s a bad performance, then it’s because the singers were off that night.

    Don’t let the gurus blind you. You are better and more capable as a singer than you think.

    And for all your choir leaders out there, remember that you don’t have to do all the work by yourself. If you’ve done your job well, your choir is capable of doing so much.

    In rehearsal, I often stop conducting or even walk away in the middle of a song. After a slight wobble, the choir always gets back on track and does fine without me.

    The danger is that by being out front, you’re not allowing your singers to take responsibility for themselves or to realise how capable they are on their own. Step away from time to time and let your singers discover how good they are.

     

     

     

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    Chris Rowbury

    website: chrisrowbury.com
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