Monday, July 03, 2017

Choir growing pains: how to sustain your choir as it grows and develops

This post is part of a series of occasional Questions and Answers. Just use the contact form if you want to submit a question.

Hannah writes:

“Our choir started in 2013 very informally with a small membership and modest organisation. We have gone from strength to strength in terms of the quality of our singing and repertoire, membership, community grant, website, the availability of practice recordings for each voice part and each song ... the list goes on!

“We have always had a committee run by volunteers, with a constitution. Inevitably there is a very limited group of people who are stepping up to take committee roles, and after four years there is only so much that can be asked of people.

“Although our Musical Director, Committee and members are all passionate about the choir it seems to be reaching a tipping point. The MD, with support from the chair, is driving the musical/ strategic direction, as well as day-to-day organisation. But this is unsustainable.

“Our MD has a demanding day job and started the choir to pursue her love of music and singing. She really is the heart of our choir and brings a unique energy and passion, and given this is not a paid role or her profession, it is quite phenomenal what she manages to achieve with us all.

“I was wondering whether you have any tips on how this could be managed going forward, what our options might be and also any ideas on galvanising members to step into committee roles?”

This is a very common situation with many choirs as they grow and develop over the years.

I’d like to unpick this situation as there seem to be three separate issues here:
  1. how does your choir adapt as it grows?
  2. how do you persuade choir members to volunteer to help?
  3. does having a choir leader who brings “a unique energy and passion” make your choir vulnerable?
Since this is such a big subject, I’m going to write three separate posts to cover each issue.

In this post I will look at the challenges and problems that might arise as your choir develops over time.

I have already covered some of the issues in two posts:
These posts cover artistic issues such as how to teach old repertoire to new choir members; whether you should audition or not; keeping rehearsals fun; working with a large group of singers.

Another artistic issue is whether your choir still has the same aims as when it started. See  Do your singers know what kind of choir they’re in? and Beginners choir or established choir: time to re-evaluate?

But there are also practical concerns such as are your administrative structures still fit for purpose?

When your choir first started it may have been small enough for the choir leader to do all the administration. As it grew, maybe a few choir members stepped up to help take names at the door or collect money.

However, as your choir grows in size and ability, there will inevitably be more concerts, more sheet music to buy, more costumes to sort out, a bigger rehearsal venue to find, more subs to collect, more rehearsals to arrange – the list is endless.

That’s when you may need to adapt your existing administration arrangements by setting up a formal committee or several steering groups for different areas.

You can read more about committees in my series of three posts Choir committees and how to handle them.

Having committees or steering groups or other informal teams of voluntary helpers is all well and good, but there will come a point when you might just be seeing the usual suspects volunteering. That’s all well and good if there is a bunch of individuals who love to help, but it can end up that they begin to dictate the ‘flavour’ of the choir. It’s much healthier and more democratic if a wide range of choir members step up to help out.

Next week I’ll look at how to persuade choir members to volunteer to help run your choir.

Get more posts like this delivered straight to your inbox!

Click to subscribe by email.

Chris Rowbury



Monthly Music Roundup:

Chris Rowbury


Get more posts like this delivered straight to your inbox!

Click to subscribe by email.


found this helpful?

I provide this content free of charge, because I like to be helpful. If you have found it useful, you may like to ...

... to say thank you.





Monthly Music Round-up: