World Choir Games Flanders 2023

Why you should stand front and centre if you’re not a confident 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]


    When we try something new, we are tentative and like to hide until we feel we know a bit more about what we’re doing.



    However, if you’ve not sung in a group before then this is the complete opposite of what you need to do! Here’s why you should stand front and centre instead of hiding at the back.

    I ran one of my regular monthly singing sessions last Saturday and several new people turned up.

    They didn’t know anybody there, had not worked with me before, and perhaps hadn’t sung in a group since school or maybe ever.

    When we worked in a circle everything was fine: everyone joined in with the fun warm ups and the simple songs to get us started.

    However, when we came to revise the songs at the end and I asked the group to stand two rows deep in a semi-circle, the new people all stood at the back.

    Not only that, as we went over each song they slowly moved further and further away from the main group. I think they were trying to hide in the corner!

    I suggested to one of them that they came and stood in the middle of their harmony part on the front row.

    You could see that they were really nervous and felt that I’d put them on the spot, but they did what I asked.

    I explained to them that if they weren’t sure for whatever reason, standing at the back is a bad idea because you isolate yourself and have to rely totally on your self to remember how the song goes.

    But if you stand front and centre you will be surrounded by others singing the same part. You will feel enveloped by the sound and supported by the other singers. You will be able to hear them clearly which will give you confidence, get you to feel part of a team and will reinforce your part and help you if you are a bit wobbly.

    Afterwards I went up to this new singer to say that I hoped they didn’t feel that I’d picked on them. They said that when I first suggested they move they were worried it was because they were singing badly! I explained that I did it to try to help them and they understood. In fact, after they’d been in the front row for a while I could see them relax, look more confident and begin to enjoy themselves.

    Here are some pointers to take away:

    • if you’re a nervous or under-confident singer, don’t hide at the back in a group
    • standing front and centre in your section is the best place to be if you’re not sure of anything
    • if your choir leader suggests you move to the front, it’s to help you and not because you’re a ‘bad’ singer
    • choir leaders, remember to treat new members gently as it’s easy for them to get the wrong idea if you single them out

    You can read much more about the best place to stand in a previous post of mine:

    Front, back or side? The best place to stand in your choir

    You might also like:

    6 facts about singing to help first-time singers




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    Chris Rowbury

    Monthly Music Roundup:

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