Monday, April 19, 2021

Will my choir still be there when lockdown is over?

Some choirs decided to stop all activities when the pandemic started.

photo by Cory Doctorow

As restrictions begin to ease in many countries, singers are wondering: will my choir still be there?

Resisting the temptation of Zoom (!), some choirs haven’t rehearsed online or in person for more than a year. They might have kept in touch with members via email or sent out the occasional quiz or video, but there have been nor formal choir singing sessions of any kind.

the choir leader’s worries

If you’re one of those choir leaders who has suspended activity, or even maybe held a few Zoom rehearsals, one of your biggest worries is probably: will any singers come when rehearsals start back again?

It’s easy to imagine that people have found other things to do with their time during lockdown. They might have cultivated a new hobby and not be interesting in singing again.

That may well be true. Also, some older singers might not want to leave the house or meet up in person.

However, I believe that they will be in the minority.

If you ran a successful, flourishing choir before the pandemic, then your singers will be eager to join you again when in-person rehearsals restart.

It’s you they love (not just the singing), and their fellow singers, and they will be missing you all dreadfully.

Anecdotally, I know of a few choir leaders who have asked their members if they plan to come back when choir starts again. Over 50% have responded enthusiastically. The remainder probably will return when the time comes, but can’t see that far ahead.

It may be that numbers will be down slightly at the start, but people will need singing more than ever and your membership will be back at its old level soon enough.

Be prepared to start again slowly. If you have several ‘branches’ of your choir, you may have to amalgamate one or two for a while.

But rest assured, your singers will be back!

the choir member’s worries

Like many other small businesses, a choir is often run by a choir leader who is self-employed. Many choir leaders don’t have day jobs, so the income from running your choir may well be their only source of income.

Also like many other small businesses, some choir leaders may have gone bust or been forced to take work elsewhere in order to pay bills and make a living. Some may have decided to re-evaluate their priorities and change career, or have even taken early retirement.

However, there are loads of choir leaders who have stuck at it. They have moved rehearsals online or found other ways of making money by offering singing courses, selling song arrangements, etc.

But what of the choirs which have decided to hibernate?

Like many singers, there will be lots of choir leaders who are desperate to be back in a room sharing voices and harmonies again. They may have mothballed your choir, but they will now be making tentative plans to re-start again as soon as they feel it’s safe to do so.

There are other people, such as myself, who run one-off singing weekends and other singing events rather than leading a regular choir. None of these have run in person for the last year, but we’re still making plans to start up again as soon as we are able.

Many self-employed choir leaders have been lucky to receive grants from the government which have enabled us to ride out the lockdown with some form of income.

When government guidelines and feelings of safety allow, I believe that most choirs will start up again and continue as they left off. That includes one-off singing events too.

It may be that a few choirs will have folded for various reasons (their choir leader has changed direction or it is no longer financially viable), but there are many, many choirs throughout the country.

It is very likely that your favourite choir leader will be back at the helm in the not too distant future. But if not, there will be plenty of other singing opportunities around.



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Chris Rowbury




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