Monday, September 30, 2019

Can you have too many singers in your choir?

Choirs are often looking for new ways to recruit more singers.

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But will there come a time when you choir is too full?

I’ve always had the motto: “the more singers, the merrier.”

I love working with  large groups – the energy is great and there are plenty of place for less experienced singers to hide.

But there comes a time when working with a large group of singers becomes too much to handle.

Similarly, when I started my first choir, I was always on the lookout for ways to recruit more singers. But eventually I had to close the doors.

It’s hard when you have to turn singers away, but there are many reasons why you might decide that your choir has become full to capacity.

Here are some of the reasons why you might find you have too many singers in your choir:
  • rehearsal space size – the day may come when you literally can’t fit any more singers into your rehearsal space (see also How to squeeze singers into a rehearsal space that’s too small).
  • concert venue size – your rehearsal space may fit all your singers, but perhaps none of your concert venues are big enough.
  • social cohesion – one of the reasons people join choirs is to socialise. Over a certain number it becomes harder to maintain a sense of social cohesion. For example, I limit my singing weekends to 35 – 40 singers. Up to that number it’s possible to chat to everyone over the weekend and to get a sense of it being a group.
  • harder work – I discovered over the years that when there are more than 70 singers, the work of a choir leader becomes much harder. Even though I till look at each voice part as a whole, I find that I get more tired above 70 singers. Your mileage may differ, but there’s probably a comfortable limit.
  • balance of new/old singers – if you recruit new singers constantly you will find the balance of new singers to those who’ve been coming a long time will shift. You will find it harder to work with a mix of experienced and inexperienced singers, also new singers won’t know your existing repertoire which introduces a whole other set of problems.
  • admin overload – if it’s just you running your choir, the more singers there are, the more admin there is.
  • choice of repertoire – if you’re committed to a repertoire of chamber pieces or songs that suit a small a cappella group, you will definitely have a limit to the number of singers you want.
You don’t necessarily need to close your choir to new singers if any of the above occur. There are ways around these difficulties - see Strategies for coping with too many singers in your choir.

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Chris Rowbury




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