Monday, February 26, 2024

Looking after your own needs in a choir: don’t be a sheep

We went to the theatre the other day and we were the only people in the audience wearing masks.

photo by Nigel Mykura

But in all other ways, we were exactly the same as any other audience member. The same, but different.

A choir works in much the same way. In some sense everybody is the same: people with a voice singing the same song as everyone else.

Yet all choir members are individuals. They can differ in height, gender, clothing, voice part and so on, but put these individual differences don’t impinge on the overall function of the choir: to sing together harmoniously.

Being in a choir is always a balance between the needs of the individual and those of the team working on the task at hand (see Singing in a choir – balancing individual freedom with the demands of the team).

considering individual needs

It’s important to try to meet the needs of each individual as much as possible so each singer feels safe and comfortable and able to participate fully.

That might mean things like:

  • moving taller singers to the back so that shorter singers can see the choir leader more clearly, or getting the choir leader to stand on a podium;
  • asking the choir leader to use a microphone so everyone (especially those with hearing problems) can hear properly;
  • opening a few windows if it gets too hot, or closing doors and putting the heat on if it gets too cold;
  • providing lyric sheets in large print for those with vision problems;
  • illustrating song structure with diagrams for those who aren’t neurotypical or who respond best to visual cues.

None of these small things will affect the choir as a whole.

However, if only one choir member is cold (and all the rest are hot), then putting the heating on is probably not a good idea. Or if only one choir member can read sheet music, it’s not necessary to hand scores out to the whole choir. Or if only one choir member needs large print, there’s no need to provide large print copies to the entire choir.

looking after yourself in a choir

There will be some individual needs that your choir leader will be unaware of (but remember to Let your choir leader know if you have any special needs – they won’t know otherwise), so you will need to take steps to look after yourself (as long as it doesn’t affect the whole choir).

For example, if you have a bad back or knee, you may need to sit down whilst everyone else is standing. Or on the other hand, if your choir sits to sing, you may need to stand up from time to time so that your leg/hip doesn’t seize up.

For example, you may have a health condition that makes you very hot, or requires you to avoid catching colds. In which case, you may choose to stand by an open window.

In each of these cases, you may find that you’re the only choir member doing that particular thing. But that’s OK. Everyone has their own needs (which change from time to time). Every singer is different.

Don’t be a sheep and follow everyone else just because. It may feel a little uncomfortable at first, being the odd one out, but it's important to look after yourself and your own needs. We've all been there!

Chris Rowbury


Get more posts like this delivered straight to your inbox!

Click to subscribe by email.


found this helpful?

I provide this content free of charge, because I like to be helpful. If you have found it useful, you may like to ...

... to say thank you.





Monthly Music Round-up: