Monday, April 26, 2021

Don’t be put off by the word ‘choir’ – there are plenty of different kinds out there

Many people are put off by the word ‘choir’. It can mean that people feel excluded from singing with others because of their preconceptions.

The choir of St. Peter's Bournemouth

‘Choir’ can take many forms though, so maybe you’re looking in the wrong place.

I’ve written before about how the word ‘choir’ can conjure up images that put singers off: Avoiding the ‘C’ word: choir.

What a ‘choir’ might be depends on our past experiences (singing in church, being in the school choir, listening to carols on the radio at Christmas), and on our cultural ‘bubble’ (who we hang out with, which TV stations we watch or radio stations we listen to, the Facebook groups we belong to).

what a ‘choir’ can be

For those not living in a Christian country or community, it might appear that all choirs need to be religious (see Is all choral music religious?).

If you follow choral Facebook groups based in the US, you are very likely to encounter mainly formal college choirs, or auditioned choruses that sing western classical music.

For those who love musical theatre, your notion of ‘choir’ might be rather sombre and have nothing to do with the rousing choruses in musical productions.

If your passion is for jazz or contemporary rock music, you might think that a ‘choir’ couldn’t possibly tackle that kind of music.

If you’re looking for something upbeat and fun in a ‘choir’, but only see the close harmony groups of ‘contemporary a cappella’, it may not float your boat.

Joining in with an annual come-and-sing Handel’s Messiah with full orchestra or watching Last night of the proms might be your only understanding of what a ‘choir’ can be.

You might find these other posts interesting: Choir? Chorale? Ensemble? What’s in a name? and Is your choir name fit for purpose?

putting singers off

The concept of ‘choir’ depends on where you look. If you’re not that familiar with the world of singing groups, you might come to the conclusion that there are only a few different types of ‘choir’ and none of them appeal to you.

Please don’t be put off joining a singing group though. There will be one out there to suit you!

To help you find a choir that will suit you, there are several websites that have lists which you can search by area. Check out: How to find the right choir to join 1: finding choirs in your area. I cover UK, USA, Canada, Australia and Europe.

If you know the type of choir you want to join (e.g. barbershop, rock choir, classical choir, etc.) then you can find websites for those particular genres. For example,  in the UK, Rock Choir, British Association of Barbershop Singers, National Association of Choirs.

choir leaders feeling isolated

It’s always good to have a peer group or support structure, especially when you’re starting out. If you’re new to choir leading, you might feel very alone if you don’t stumble across the right ‘bubble’.

If you’re running a small, non-auditioned community singing group, it can feel a bit intimidating if you join the Choral Music or Choirs on Facebook groups on Facebook.

Or, if you’re running a formal, auditioned choir singing western classical music, you might feel a bit alienated if you only hang out in groups for those who lead singing for fun groups who don’t sight read.

There are several organisations out there which focus on particular types of choir. They range from the Natural Voice Network to the American Choral Directors Association. And everything in between.

Do some Googling, but don’t despair if the first few hits don’t represent your ‘tribe’. There will be a group of like-minded souls out there somewhere.


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Chris Rowbury




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