Once upon a time, in a far off land, a choir director once said “Come one and all! Join us in our singing! You can join when you like and pay on the door!” And so the people came in their droves and all was well.
Apart from the fact that there were SO MANY people in the choir that the bedraggled Choir Director couldn’t remember who was who, who was new and trying to keep on top of providing lyrics, directions and support was becoming very stressful. The newer singers were the ones who kept leaving as they struggled to keep up.
When people start with an existing choir it’s a bit like trying to keep up with a runaway horse. Or trying to jump on a moving train… that’s already very full! So I changed the model (I’ve done this many times – with enough notice people tend to support it). We accept new singers in January and September only – and then only if we have space…… For example because I’ve split my West Bridgford Choir into 2 rehearsal groups, I’ve been able to take on 15 news singers which in turn has covered the extra cost for the hall we hire.
Why does this work? It allows me time to spend with those new people, to integrate them – to slow the train down if you like. New singers are never going to catch up and learn all of the material that everyone else has been learning for 5 years but they’re at the same point as everyone else for the brand new material and I still teach bits of the old songs. If we are heading towards a gig and they want to perform, they many need to catch up themselves but there’s harmony audio tracks and sometimes conducting videos in the choir archives for them to delve into.
As we perform and get seen and heard, there are enquiries to join. We offer a waiting list. We run one-off workshops every term and again, this generates some interest to join. Here’s the waiting list again. Once we are approaching the doors opening dates, we get in touch with everyone on the waiting list and invite them to join. If existing singers have friends they’d like to join, this is the time for them to invite them along. I don’t advertise for new singers publicly unless were are very short of MEN!
So on new singer night(s…. It inevitably takes more than one session) I am able to talk personally to the new singers. I can explain things, answer their questions, put them at ease and simply make them feel more welcome than before. I can take time to help them work out their vocal range, I can check to make sure they know where everything is. I can point them in the direction of some incredibly helpful people and I can learn their names.
This helps everyone. My mental health improves and our singers are happier! Phew x