What to look for when joining a choir?

Cirencester Male Voice Choir

Last week I received an email.  Contrary to expectation, it wasn’t in fact offering me a chance to receive many millions of dollars from some orphans late Father who had recently kicked the bucket. Nor was it someone offering to pay me millions for mis-sold PPI or someone else pretending to be HMRC and inviting me to open a word document which would miraculously get me a £500 tax rebate!

It was in fact an email from a real person who just wanted to say thank you.

Hi Jules, I’ve been gently toying with the idea of joining a choir someday…maybe…and finally got around to looking up what community options are available to me. I’m someone who sings only to myself (or my dog) and am intensely shy about the idea of others hearing me, even close family – hence my trepidation! I happened across your blog in my searches, and appreciate your stories, philosophy and encouragement. Although I’m in a different country (Canada), it has made the community choir world seem a little less intimidating and a little more accessible. I’m just writing to say thank you.

This email got my attention for 2 reasons. Firstly I was fascinated to know that my  blog apparently reaches people the other side of the pond and secondly, it’s always nice when someone says ‘Thank you’, even though on this occasion I’m not sure I had done very much to warrant such praise.  Anyway, it was such a nice email, I thought I’d share it with you all.

Being shy about joining a choir is, however, a common theme.  I hear it all the time when I am trying to recruit new members for one or other of my choirs.  It’s a shame really, because to my mind whether or not you can sing is actually never a barrier.   In very basic terms, there are two types of choir.  Those which are auditioned and those which are not!

It’s fair to say, without appearing rude, that there will of course be people who are not able to get into an auditioned choir.  This could be because they cannot read music, or the choir has no vacancies for a particular voice part. Alternatively, it could of course be because that person does not have the vocal qualities the choir in question are looking for.  However, this should never put anyone off joining a choir.  The whole point of community choirs or un-auditioned choirs is for everyone to be able to join and sing together, regardless of their experience or ability.

A non-auditioned choir will never sound as good?

This, quite frankly, is just not true!  Of course, there are some fantastic choirs out there and any choir made up entirely of professional singers will usually be extremely good.  But there are also many great community choirs.  The repertoire may often be simpler, but the overall sound can be just as pleasing to the audience.

What sort of choir is right for me?

Nowadays there really is a choir for everyone.   For most choir members, it’s not about auditions or learning complex arrangements.  Instead, joining a choir is primarily a social experience.   But unlike just going for a night out, choirs are all about achieving goals through teamwork, where the goal is a public performance and the teamwork is singing together with everyone else in your section.   Now, my apologies if that sounded like some sort of corporate pep talk. It certainly wasn’t meant to, but it is nevertheless true!

When you are you trying to find a choir to join the sort of things to consider are:

  • Is the choir Auditioned or Non – Auditioned?
  • Does the choir have any vacancies for your voice part?
  • Do you want to join a mixed choir or a single sex choir?
  • When does the choir rehearse?
  • How many concerts per year does the choir perform and what commitment is required?
  • How much does it cost to be a member?
  • Do you know anyone else who sings in the choir?
  • Have you heard the choir perform?
  • What do you know about the Musical Director?

My advice to the lady from Canada, would be to find a choir with the sort of people that you would be happy spending time with.  The chances are, some of these people might become your new best friends!