Sunday, June 08, 2008

Getting to know you

Even though I’ve been running choirs for many years, I still don’t know everyone’s name nor much about each person. I’m ashamed to say this, but the simple fact is that unless choir members come for a drink after a session or attend one of our social events, then I don’t get the chance to chat to them. After all, I’m standing out in front of everyone for the evening and dealing with the choir en masse.

Although I try to discourage it, many people chat to their neighbours whilst their particular part is not singing or learning. This may not necessarily be social chit chat, but might actually be about the song! There’s a very good chance that, over the years, singers who stand near each other in the same part will get to know each other fairly well. When break time comes, it’s also quite natural to begin talking to those nearest to you.

So how do choir members get to know other singers who are in parts far away from them? Will the sopranos ever make friends with the tenors or basses? Even though I encourage people to change parts now and then, most people tend to stay put, so how can they get to know other singers’ names and backgrounds?

Of course, it’s not necessary to know someone socially in order to sing with them (which is one of the joys of harmony singing), nor is it necessary to be friends or even like someone in order to be able to make beautiful music together. But community choirs are social beasts. Part of the reason that people come is to socialise and get to know others with a similar interest.

I have tried in the past to form small groups of four scattered throughout our rehearsal space in order to practice singing harmony in small groups (whilst still being in the midst of the main choir). On these occasions I have suggested that people introduce themselves if they’ve not sung together before.

People often suggest the use of badges with people’s names on. I’ve tried this in the past, but ended up not learning anybody’s name because I simply have to look at their chest to see what it is!

So … anybody out there have any suggestions for how to get to know all the people in the choir and their names?

go to Chris Rowbury's website

Chris Rowbury


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