5 Tips To Being A Great Choir Leader
What does it mean to be a great choir leader? Our first blog post from the Canadian Choir Leader Network (CCLN) gives you some useful points for consideration.
Inspire Your Choir
Every leader should inspire their choir members. Whether that’s through your music choices, your arrangements or your fun-loving-life-loving attitude, your members will be looking to you to keep them motivated. It’s easy to fall into the rut of turning up week after week, using the same warm-ups and choosing tired songs that every other choir in the world has performed. Inspire your members with great song choices that are a little out-of-the-box and warmups that create fun and immediate impact. And finally, by offering consistent (and constructive) encouragement during rehearsals over time, you will notice an improvement in the confidence and ability of your choir as they learn to bask in your endless enthusiasm.
Be a Good Communicator
Communication is key! If you want your members to feel like they’re part of a community rather than just another choir, be open to communicating more than just at rehearsal, as well as being open to your members emailing you if they have a question or concern. Think about starting a weekly, monthly or quarterly newsletter to communicate “what’s happening” within your choir community. Arrive early or stay after rehearsal and make it obvious you are available to “chat” – having this easy-going, relaxed relationship with your members will encourage their ability to communicate with you too!
The only way to truly understand your members is to put yourself in their shoes, and for that, you need to be approachable, relatable and friendly. Be open to them, explaining their experiences, struggles and joys by imagining them from their perspective. Remember, although you see them as a group of singers, they are individuals with their own personalities, wants and needs. It’s important to make yourself available to all members and not just those who shout loudest. Allow your members to be part of your music world, be open to chatting to them outside of the rehearsal space and allow them to see you as open, warm and kind. Once they see you as friendly, open and approachable, they will move heaven and earth to ensure they give you 110% during both rehearsals and performances.
Being creative isn’t just about your musical ability to arrange or teach; it is about being innovative and continually thinking off-the-beaten-track when it comes to everything from repertoire to warm-ups, performances to social events. Innovation is the biggest motivator to keep your members coming back for more. Try to inject some variety into your rehearsals and plan at least one performance per quarter. Covid aside, there are many opportunities to perform at sports events, markets and venues in and around your city if you invest the time to find them. Being creating doesn’t have to begin and end with you. Think about enlisting your members to share their creative ideas too – when people feel invested; they are more likely to support a project through to its conclusion.
Know Your Choir
It’s always important to remember that your members have a choice of where they sing, so first and foremost, get to know them. Take time to learn their names, find out their motivations and, of course, their abilities. More and more choirs are adopting the non-auditioned, fun and uplifting approach to choir singing, so it is becoming increasingly important to figure out their strengths and weaknesses regarding what they can achieve as a group and gear your expectations a leader to these abilities. It’s good to stretch your singers but not to the point where they feel they no longer fit. Choose repertoire and plan events that fit with the age and ability of the entire group – it’s better to do something great with something small and manageable than to deliver an average performance where the choir are clearly unprepared. By knowing your choir well, you can manage them according to their ability, allowing them to feel confident whether they perform for the first time at a care home or on the local theatre stage with a symphony orchestra.
Successful leaders in any field are generally inspiring, communicative, approachable, creative, and most importantly, they know their choir. If you’ve enjoyed this blog post or have any tips of your own you would like to add, please comment below – we would love to hear from you!