International Choir Festival InCanto Mediterraneo

Do your singers know what kind of choir they’re in?

  • [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]


    When you lead a choir you have a clear idea of what you want that choir to be. But have you made sure that your choir members are on the same page as you?



    Everyone makes assumption and you may be surprised at how many different views there are within the same choir.

    we all make assumptions

    Whether you spell it out or not, when you set up a choir you bring a whole set of expectations of what kind of choir it is.

    When singers join your choir,  they bring their own set of expectations as well as a load of baggage from previous singing experiences.

    It’s often the case that your choir members’ expectations are not the same as yours.

    You may think it’s obvious what kind of choir you’re running, but that’s not necessarily the case.

    spell it out

    Choir members can’t second-guess your philosophy. They may get confused by the ‘rules’ that you have in your head. You need to spell it out.

    Some choirs have a set of formal rules that they expect their choir members to adhere to. This is made clear when new singers join. It’s often in the form of a written document.

    Other less formal choirs may have looser rules that are reiterated verbally in rehearsals now and again.

    When I realised that many of my community choir members weren’t really clear about what kind of choir I was running, I wrote a document which then went on the choir website.

    Whichever way you do it, you need to make your choir ethos clear or there’s a risk of misunderstandings.

    keep your choir philosophy up to date

    Things change over time. The nature of your choir may have changed since you first started.
    Perhaps you’ve added new rules or enforced rules more strongly or let some go or stopped using sheet music or started to perform.

    Whatever happens it’s a good idea to revisit your choir philosophy from time to time and share it with your choir members.

    my own choir philosophy

    You might be interested to read about what I consider to be My ideal community choir.




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    Chris Rowbury

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