Monday, November 04, 2019

Let your choir leader know if you have any special needs – they won’t know otherwise

I’m just back from leading a weekend of singing. One of the singers couldn’t read the lyrics I’d provided.

photo by Ian Watson

If only they’d told me beforehand I could have provided large-print words.

Some singers are embarrassed to let their choir or workshop leader know that they have particular needs.

Maybe they need to sit (or stand) for the whole session because they have back problems.

Perhaps they have difficulty hearing.

Or possibly they can’t read lyrics that are written too small.

It’s often impossible for the person leading the session to know about these unless you tell them explicitly.

I ran a singing day last year and put large sheets of lyrics up in the centre of the room. I noticed that one singer was sitting right at the end of the row, making it hard for him to see the lyrics. I suggested he move more towards the centre. Then he told me he was blind so didn’t need to see the lyrics at all.

I used to run an adult education singing class. We met once a week during term time. One young singer was having difficulty pitching so I used to sing clearly into her ear to try and help. Towards the end of a ten-week term, she told me that she was deaf in one ear. The one that I’d been singing into.

It’s usually easy for a leader to accommodate any specific needs that a singer might have.

If a singer:
  • is blind or partially sighted, I will make sure I add plenty of description during the warm up whereas usually I just get people to copy what I do.
  • has difficulty reading the large lyric sheets I put up, I will make sure they sit as near as they need to. If that’s not possible I will provide them with large-print lyrics.
  • is deaf in one ear, I can make sure that if I help them with pitching, I will sing into the other ear. I can also make sure they’re positioned so they can hear the other singers more easily.
  • needs to sit for the whole session, I will make sure that there’s a seat available and help to move it if necessary if the choir formation changes.
And so on.

There are plenty of other invisible needs that can be met in this way. But only if your choir or workshop leader is aware of those needs.

Make sure you let them know well in advance of the singing session so they have time to accommodate your needs. It may feel a bit embarrassing, but in the end it will enable you to get the most out of the session and allow the leader to make things as accessible as possible.

And choir leaders, if you know that one of your singers has specific needs, don’t assume you know how best to assist them. Ask them what the best way to help is.

Get more posts like this delivered straight to your inbox!

Click to subscribe by email.

Chris Rowbury




Monthly Music Roundup: