Monday, October 14, 2019

How to manage when your choir becomes too popular: waiting list or a new choir

Over the last two weeks I’ve looked at whether you can have too many singers in your choir and, if so, how you can cope with that situation.

In this final post on the subject, I want to look at two further strategies: closing your choir to new members and starting a new choir.

You might get to the point where you feel that your choir has too many singers. There is a variety of reasons why this might be so (rehearsal venue too small, admin overload, lack of social cohesion, etc.).

Many of these are quite easy to overcome. However, you may get to the point where there is nothing more you can do. It is impossible to take any new members on.

It seems to me (and do leave a comment if you have other options!) that you have two choices:
  1. close the choir to new members
  2. start a new choir

closing your choir to new members

If you rely on choir income or think everyone should have the opportunity to sing, this can feel very scary. You will actually be turning singers away!

But it does mean that you’re doing something right and people want what you have to offer.
The obvious thing is to start a waiting list for new members. As potential new members contact you, put their details in chronological order on file somewhere.

When a vacancy arises, you can let people know in the order that they contacted you.

This seems to be the fairest way to do it, but it can result in an imbalanced choir. You might decide to keep separate lists for each voice part, and only take new singers on for those parts which need new singers.

Should you take singers on as and when vacancies arise, or have a fixed time for new members? I’ve found that taking singers on one at a time makes integration harder: no matter how friendly your choir is, one new singer can feel overwhelmed when joining an existing group.

Many choirs only take new members on at the start of each term/ season or just once a year. That means that there will be a group of new singers so individuals won’t feel isolated. It also means that introducing new members to your existing repertoire only happens at fixed times rather than being an ongoing issue.

starting a new choir

It’s great if you have too many singers wanting to join your choir as it means there is a demand for what you do. So why not simply start another choir?

It can be run on very similar lines, or you may decide to give it a distinct flavour. It could have a completely different name, or use the one you have with a modifier (e.g. The Anytown Singers can beget The Anytown Thursday Singers or The Anytown Singers Part 2).

If you start a new choir which is very different in feel and repertoire from your existing one, you may find that the demand is simply not there. It might be best not to stray too far from your successful formula.

Some choirs expand by having off-shoots at different times and days. In this way your choir can grow and grow and is only limited by the number of hours in a week.

The model is that people join a choir with a single name, but can choose which rehearsal to attend each week.

The advantages are that you are making your choir more available to singers by not just being on one day each week. And you can expand beyond your rehearsal space by spreading people over several days. Such choirs usually learn exactly the same repertoire and perform as one big choir when all the singers come together.

The disadvantages of this model is the choir leader needs to teach and rehearse exactly the same thing several times each week. It may start to feel al little like a factory production line. The logistics of keeping tabs on singers who can choose which rehearsal to come to can be complex. Also, you have no control over how many singers come to any one rehearsal. You will also need to find a large rehearsal and concert venue when all your singers come together for a performance.

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Chris Rowbury




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