Monday, January 31, 2022

How much ‘stuff’ do you need to lead a group of singers? Far less than you think!

What is the minimum you need to get a group of people singing together?

A piano? Sheet music? A baton? Backing tracks? The less you rely on ‘stuff’, the freer and more resilient you become.

A fellow choir leader and I once discussed what our minimum requirements were in order to get a group of people singing together. The answer was: a group of people (obviously) and a room.

But then we decided that even a room was unnecessary and that any space would do, but walls would be helpful.

Of course, other things might make our jobs easier: some chairs perhaps, lyric sheets, something to get our starting note from, tea and coffee making facilities. But none of these are necessary.

I have seen people come to lead a singing session with a keyboard, box to stand on, music stand, mini PA system, lapel mic, sets of lyrics, choir folders, songbook, name badges, and more.

The trouble is, it’s easy to get used to this and to believe that the only way you can work is when you have all your ‘stuff’ with you. Sometimes even forgetting why you have all those things with you. The ‘stuff’ becomes a security blanket.

What happens if there’s a power cut, or nowhere to plug your keyboard in, or the lights suddenly fail, or you forget to bring the lyric sheets, or your car breaks down? The more things you rely on, the more chances there are of things going wrong.

I always start from the group of people/ empty room requirement and remind myself that anything else is a bonus. From that perspective, I’m always pleasantly surprised when there are any extras like chairs, a space to pin up lyrics, a PA system, etc.

The opposite approach is to assume that you will always have all the stuff you need. Then when some tiny thing goes wrong, you will be thrown.

read more …

You might find these other posts useful:

How can you possibly teach songs without a piano??!!

Putting your house in order or how to clear up after a busy choir season

Best laid plans – dealing with the unexpected in singing sessions

Chris Rowbury


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