Monday, August 31, 2020

The 7 types of choir leader – which one are you?

We all lead our choirs in different ways. There is a whole range of leadership styles out there.

Photo by COD Newsroom

What type of choir leader are you?

We all have different leadership styles based on our personalities and training. I’ve identified 7 possible types of choir leader here, although I’m sure there are many more.

We are all a mix of these I’m sure, but by trying to identify which one fits you best will enable you to reflect on your choir leading and hopefully make you better at what you do.

1. the parent

The parent wants to take care of everybody. They see the choir as one big family that they are responsible for. They feel that it is their duty and responsibility to look after their singers. The know what’s best and are great at handing out advice and stepping up. Without them the choir simply wouldn’t be able to function. They have some difficulty in letting go of the reins.

2. the community creator

This type of choir leader helps to create communities that are eventually self-sufficient and sustaining. They tease out the skills of individual singers and help set up structures so the choir can function without them one day. Once their job is done, they move on to create another community elsewhere.

3. the music-maker

The music that the choir creates is of paramount importance, the individual singers less so. The primary goal is to create music of excellence by any means. This kind of choir leader is great at forming a sense of ensemble and requires high standards of their singers. They see their role as helping the singers create the best music they possibly can. The music comes first, their ego and individual singers’ needs are not as important.

4. the coach

This type of choir leader is the best type of teacher. Their goal is to help each singer realise their fullest music-making potential. They are great at teaching vocal techniques and building a sense of ensemble. They gently train the choir as a whole whilst noticing the needs of individual singers. They are able to tread that fine line between the music-making excellence of the group and singing development of each member of the choir. They are usually the first to celebrate the accomplishments of their singers and to take a back seat when the garlands are awarded.

5. the diva

I’m sure none of you reading fall into this category! The diva is all about showing the singers how clever and capable they are. They are ego on legs and simply want praise for what they do. They strive to get the most out of their singers at any cost because they will be judged on the end product. They don’t really care much about the individual singers.

6. the friend

This type of choir director doesn’t really like standing out front. They feel they are equal to all the other singers and are “just a mate”. They don’t really lead as such, but watch while the group stumbles towards something (what that something is, they’re not quite sure). They spend a lot of time on building relationships, making sure people are having a good time and creating socialising opportunities. Choirs like this don’t really develop musically over time as their focus is on having fun. One big downside is that the leader might be questioned and challenged about what they’re doing by individual choir members. Everybody feels equally qualified to chip in their ideas.

7. the delegator

This type of choir leader doesn’t really like responsibility. They are good at setting up structures within the choir that enables them to delegate their responsibilities, both relating to music-making and to the general running of the choir. These kinds of choir have section leaders and many sectional rehearsals. Individual choir members are invited to take turns at conducting and teaching songs. There are usually several choir committees: for repertoire, social events, concert planning, etc.



Do let me know what other kinds of choir leaders you think there are. And which one are you?


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Chris Rowbury




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