Sunday, September 08, 2013

Fresh blood: the pros and cons of letting new singers join your choir

As choir starts back after a break, you might notice a few new faces in the ranks.

new recruits

Bringing in new recruits maintains the lifeblood of a choir, but what are the pros and cons?

the benefits of fresh blood

Liz Garnett recently wrote an article on her blog Helping you Harmonise looking at The Benefits of Fresh Blood.

She considered several of the less-obvious benefits that a choir gets from new members, such as:
  • seeing the excitement of new members reinvigorates existing members and gets them excited again
  • seeing a new member learning skills from scratch reminds existing members of how far they’ve come
  • seeing your choir afresh through new eyes reminds you of how special it is
  • fresh blood challenges existing members to be aware and critical of the way they do things

There are, however, several challenges to overcome when new members join:
  • how to assimilate them and make them feel comfortable and welcome
  • how to keep the old repertoire alive
  • how to get them up to speed quickly

the pros

  • keeps numbers up – singers inevitably leave over time and if they’re not replaced the choir will die
  • injects enthusiasm – as Liz Garnett points out, it can revitalise a choir, especially if it has become stale and complacent
  • maintains a tight ship – having a few keen new singers usually raises the game of the existing singers, and also new members are more likely to be on time, etc.

the cons

  • hard to keep old repertoire alive – many choirs have large back catalogues that they like to keep alive. If the old songs are taught afresh there is a danger of existing choir members getting bored. I’ve written about several different approaches to solving this in Helping new choir members learn the old songs
  • too many people to deal with – if you have an open door policy and keep taking on new singers, your choir will grow and grow. Managing a large choir can be much harder than you think (see Size matters and Working with a big choir).
  • it’s hard to join an existing group – no matter how friendly people are and how hard they try to be welcoming, it can be daunting to join a group that’s been going for some time. It can inevitably feel cliquey with all the in-jokes and familiarity. Which is why I only take new recruits on once a year and make sure there is a large bunch of them.

more ideas

Here are some related posts that you might like to read:

Chris Rowbury’s website:

Chris Rowbury


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