Monday, November 27, 2017

Is your choir name fit for purpose?

Many choir names are descriptive and give a clear idea of what kind of choir it is.


But choirs change over time. Maybe your choir name doesn’t fit what you do any longer.

different kinds of choir names

There are many ways of naming a choir. Plenty of us go for the descriptive option:
  • The Somewhere Community Choir;
  • The Elsewhere Choral Society;
  • The Nowhere Ladies Chorale;
  • Big City Singing for Fun Group;
  • The Out of Town Bach Choir.
People quickly get the idea of what kind of choirs these are likely to be. The more formal and straight the name, the more formal and straight the choir is likely to be. If it has ‘male’ or ‘ladies’ in the title, then it indicates that it’s gender-specific.

But what about non-descriptive names?

Something like The Small Town Singers doesn’t really tell us what kind of choir it is. Likewise The East Counties Choir.

Then there are those names which seemed clever and appropriate at the time (in the pub over a few pints), which don’t even tell us that it’s a choir, let alone what kind of choir:
  • Peace and Harmony (could be a social-action group);
  • Wessex Warblers (a bird-spotting club?);
  • Tuning In (could be an amateur radio club or a guitar group);
  • Raised Voices (probably some kind of political group).
And even if you think your name is descriptive, somebody else might have already bagged it for different purposes.

For example, I called my first choir WorldSong because we sang songs from all over the world. However, there are already other WorldSongs which have nothing to do with singing:
  • an organization created to train men and women coming out of human trafficking in a new vocation;
  • a religious summer camp in Alabama;
  • an invitation-only, self-branding, subscription-based music catalogue management system;
  • a blog written by a guy in South Africa.

choosing a name for your choir

When you first choose a name for your choir, you’ll need to decide whether you want to make it
  1. descriptive – in which case you need to ensure that it describes accurately what you do; or
  2. non-descriptive – in which case make sure that outsiders will understand that it’s a choir and your name doesn’t clash with something else that is completely different.
Don’t assume that everyone else will know what you’re trying to convey with your name. Run it by loads of different people, not just those who sing, to find out if it resonates with them in the way that you want.

Once you’ve decided on a name there are other practical considerations before you go ahead.
Is there already a choir with the same name (there are lots of Global Harmonies out there for instance) and does that matter (they might be at the other end of the country)?

Is there a suitable website domain name available?

is your choir name still fit for purpose?

It might be that some way down the line the jokey name that you first came up with is wearing a bit thin. Or perhaps the nature of your choir has changed.

It might have moved from being women-only to a mixed choir. Your repertoire might have settled down to be exclusively gospel instead of a more varied mix of styles. Membership might have changed radically and instead of being a welcome-all large choir, you have morphed into a smaller, auditioned ensemble.

Maybe it’s time to change the name of your choir?

But before you do so, think carefully about how you’re going to manage the transition. You don’t want to suddenly lose the goodwill that you’ve built up over the years. You also don’t want to suddenly disappear from view if you change your website name or email address or poster design.

It might be useful for the first year or so to add something like “formerly the …” to all your publicity.
Sometimes it’s OK to keep the same name even if it sounds a bit odd because people are used to associating it with your choir and what you do (think how corny some of those 1960s band names are. The Beatles??!!) But if the description really doesn’t fit any more (like a men’s choir becoming mixed or a church choir becoming a rock choir), then you may have no choice.

I’d love to hear from any of you who have had problems with your chosen name over the years or who have ended up changing their name. Do drop by and leave a comment.

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Chris Rowbury



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