Monday, October 06, 2014

Using feedback forms for choirs and singing workshops

You get what you ask for, so be careful how you seek feedback!

photo by Howard Lake

When designing feedback forms, less is more. Here’s why.

When I first started my own residential singing weekends I knew that I needed feedback to help me improve the next time, especially if I’d not used a particular venue before.

I started by copying feedback forms that other course venues and workshop leaders use. Often these consisted of lots of boxes to tick and plenty of detailed questioning.

I soon realised that most people hate filling these things in and really don’t spend much time thinking about which box they tick. Hence the quality of feedback will not be that good.

I also quickly found out that asking people to say what didn’t work well or the things they least liked was an invitation to whinge about stuff! If you invite negativity, you will receive negativity.

I would come home after (what I thought was) a successful singing weekend only to find page after page of negative feedback on the forms I’d given out. Depressing!

However, when I chatted to people about how they felt in general after the weekend it was almost always good. It’s just that when given the chance people will respond to feedback questions by detailing all the tiny niggles that they can remember.

I decided it was time to simplify.

So now I just ask:

  1. What were the best parts of the weekend for you?
  2. How could the weekend be made even better in the future?

That’s all. Simple, eh?

I now find that the feedback is precise, detailed and of quality whether it’s about the teaching or the food or the softness of the mattresses.

The same thing applies to regular choir sessions. Every now and then it’s useful to get some feedback from the choir about how things are going in general. I used to ask very specific questions about how long the warm up should be, what kind of repertoire we should sing, etc. But now I just ask the same questions as above:

  1. What are the best things for you about being in the choir?
  2. How could the experience be made better for you in the future?

Do you use feedback forms? What works best for you? I’d love to hear from you.

further reading

You might also find the following posts of interest:

What kind of feedback do you want?

Why feedback is important when teaching and learning songs

Chris Rowbury




Chris Rowbury


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