Sunday, January 26, 2014

You can’t franchise charisma – why your choir leader is special

The fact is that pretty much anyone can lead a choir. Some do it better than others and some do it worse, but it’s not rocket science. However, your particular choir leader is special and brings something unique to your choir.

Pink Singers July 2013 (3)

That special something can’t be copied or franchised. Choirs are all about the people in them – including their leader. I’ll show you some lessons that can be learnt from this, whether you’re a singer or a choir leader (or a business opportunist!).

the ‘business’ of singing

A few years ago I sought some advice on how to grow my ‘business’. I wanted to find out how I could earn more from the hours I had available to me.

Since much of my work is face to face and I can’t be in more than one place at once, the advisor suggested that I franchise my workshops. I could train people up to offer what I do in different parts of the country. Just like KFC or McDonalds.

I tried to explain that part of what people sign up for when joining a choir or singing workshop is the personality of the leader.

Each of us leaders has a particular approach and a distinct personality. Just like when we meet someone new and find a ‘chemistry’ between us (or not!), it’s important that singers ‘click’ with the person leading them. Not every choir leader will suit every singer.

Basically when people join a choir (or attend a singing workshop), they are committing to the leader’s vision and way of doing things. If someone else were to step in and lead, even if they did exactly the same things, it wouldn’t be the same.

Which is why you can’t franchise a successful singing workshop or choir. Even if your choir leader trained someone up, they would do things ever so slightly differently.

What can we learn from this?


Choose your choir carefully. Find one that suits you with a leader you can trust, respect and who you seem to be on the same wavelength as.

If you’re not enjoying the choir you’re in, it’s not about you or about the singing, but about that particular choir. You always have the freedom to leave and join another one that suits you better.

choir leaders

When you take over a choir from someone else, you may find that some singers leave. Don’t take it personally, it’s just that you won’t suit every singer. You will also find that new people join because of the way you do things.

If you ever need someone to substitute for you (when you’re ill, for example) try to make sure that they are similar to you in their approach, philosophy and personality.

business people

If you have discovered a choir that is brilliant with lots of singers enjoying themselves and willing to pay for the privilege, you may be tempted to turn it into a business. You might want to take that ‘formula’ or particular approach and repeat it elsewhere.

It may work (a bit like a sequel to a movie blockbuster).

You may then want to expand across the whole country and try to set up similar choirs everywhere. But (just like blockbuster sequels) there will come a point where not every new choir is as successful. This is because you can copy the approach and put quality control systems in place, but you can’t clone the human beings (yet) which made the early choirs successful.

Singing groups are not like KFC or McDonalds. It’s all about the people.

If you agree, why not leave a comment and let me know? You don’t have to write much! I’d really appreciate it.

Chris Rowbury




Chris Rowbury


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