Monday, September 20, 2021

What to do if you don’t like your choir leader

Not every choir leader suits every singer.

Here are some questions to help you work out what to do if you don’t like your choir leader.

Most people join a choir because they like what the choir leader has to offer. They fully embrace the choir leader’s vision.

But sometimes that is not enough. Once you’ve joined you might find yourself not enjoying rehearsals or the way that songs are taught or the (in)formality of the sessions.

Not every choir leader’s way is going to suit you.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself in order to figure out what to do.

have I given them a chance? – you might find that it takes time to get used to the way a choir leader works, especially if you’ve been in a different choir before. Don’t judge the situation after only a few sessions. Give them the benefit of the doubt.

is it their personality or working method I don’t like? – it’s possible to be in a choir with a leader that you really, really don’t like. But their working method may be brilliant and they end up getting a great sound out of the singers. You don’t need to mix socially with your choir leader or get on with them. The only time personality is an issue is if they are abusive. On the other hand, you may think they’re a lovely person, but not that good at teaching songs or leading rehearsals. Work out which of the two it is, and that may help you decide what to do next.

do other singers feel the same way as I do? – if you’re the only singer who doesn’t like your choir leader, then just put it down to chemistry or working methods. You’ll need to make a personal decision about what to do without involving other singers.

can I have a quiet word with my choir leader? – if several singers feel the same way as you do, then you might be able to arrange a meeting with your choir leader to share your concerns. It may be that they haven’t realised how you feel and a simple change in how they do things may sort everything out.

can I replace my choir leader? – it may be that a large proportion of the singers feel the same way as you do. If that’s the case, then the choir leader may well not be a good fit for your choir. If they have been employed or appointed by the choir or choir committee, then there may be an opportunity to replace them. Ask your committee or have a singers’ meeting. See How to recruit a new choir leader for your choir.

is this choir the only show in town? – perhaps there is only one choir near where you live. It may not be the perfect choir (or choir leader) for you, but that’s what’s on offer. If being in a choir – any choir – is very important to you, then you’ll just have to put up with your choir leader (see Is being in a choir that doesn’t suit you better than no singing at all?). Or …

can I start my own choir instead? – if there are no other suitable choirs to join and you really don’t like your choir leader or the way they do things, then why not start your own choir? You don’t have to be a choir leader yourself (there may be another singer who can take that role, or read How to set up a choir if you’re not a choir leader).

is it important to me to sing at any cost? – if singing is the most important thing to you (regardless of repertoire, style, choir leading technique, formality, etc.), then you’ll just have to stay and put up with your choir leader. But if things like song choices and wearing choir robes are important, then it may not be the choir for you.

There are no easy solutions to this situation. But there are several possibilities between the extremes of leaving the choir or staying and just sucking it up. I hope these questions help you figure out what’s best for you. Good luck!

other useful posts

You might also find these older posts of some use.

How to be a bad choir director (it’s easier than you think)

5 good reasons why joining a choir might not be right for you

Avoid toxic choir leaders – the end does NOT justify the means

How to find the right choir to join

How to tell if your choir leader is rubbish

Getting the best out of your choir: moderate or martinet?




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Chris Rowbury




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