Monday, July 17, 2017

Do everything you can to support your choir leader – they’re the only one you’ve got!

For the last two weeks I’ve been looking at how to sustain your choir as it grows and develops.

human pyramid

Last week I considered ways to persuade choir members to help run the choir. This week I want to look at how your choir leader’s uniqueness can make your choir vulnerable.

As I pointed out last time, most singers join a choir because they share the passion and vision of the choir leader. Your choir leader is the creative heart of your choir and is what gives it its unique flavour. If anybody else took over your choir it would change its nature.

I’ve written before that you can’t franchise charisma – why your choir leader is special. But having a musical director who is unique also makes your choir vulnerable.

Every choir is pretty much defined by the MD's vision and creative flair. If your MD leaves, it's often very, very hard to find a replacement who will bring the same kind of flavour. Your choir pretty much IS your MD. So ... do everything you can to support them and make their life easier.

The danger for any creative and proactive MD is that we (and I include myself!) tend to take on too much. We think we're irreplaceable (and we are in some senses), but don't realise that the choir can do lots of things by itself if we've led them well (section leaders; sending sub-groups of the choir off to rehearse by themselves; creating a smaller ensemble within the choir; mentoring a choir member to be assistant MD; etc.).

Choir leaders need to learn to delegate, and choir members need to do all they can to support their choir leader in the running of the choir. It’s a mutual effort and there need to be good communication channels: clear ways for choir members to let their MD know of concerns and development ideas; and methods for the MD to let choir members know what’s going on both practically and creatively.

You might find this post useful (hopefully in the future!): Choirs leaders: who'll replace you when you've gone?
There is no easy solution to the original problem: having an over-stretched choir leader and not enough choir members stepping up to help out. Celebrate the successes you've had with your choir already and I hope there are some helpful ideas in these three post for how you can move forward.

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Chris Rowbury



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