On Your Marks…Get Set…PERFORM!
You’re just heading back to rehearsal, the repertoire is set, and you’ve encouraged members to join/rejoin you, so what’s next? Well, it’s probably time to start thinking about performances. It may seem a little premature, but you’ll want to get ahead of the game and have something to work towards – after all, these are the prize at the end of the race and, for many, what motivates them! Pre-planning is important, not only for your members, but you’ll also need to consider that event organizers/venues work months, sometimes a year in advance, and you won’t want to miss out! This month, at the Canadian Choir Leader Network (CCLN), we take a look at our event calendars and how to successfully secure and plan a year’s worth of events while ensuring variety and enjoyment for your members and audience!
Choose your venue wisely
If you’re planning an end of year concert, what is it going to look like? How will the choir fill the space? Will you be selling tickets and can you cover the cost? Is it time to bring in a live band to accompany your choir? Does the venue have easy access and parking for not only your members but also your audience? Will your repertoire suit the venue? Is the venue prestigious enough to showcase all your hard work? There are many factors to consider when deciding where best to host your grand finale. Choose somewhere that reflects your choir’s personality – it may be an intimate venue with mood lighting and cocktail tables like a jazz club setting or a large well-known theatre or live music venue which can potentially host hundreds of paying guests. Whatever you settle on, it’s easy to get carried away, so make sure it’s right for you and be confident you can organize the entire event without too much stress or financial liability.
Don’t sweat the small stuff!
Ok, so that’s the grand finale taken care of, but what about the smaller performances throughout the year? You’ll no doubt be approached by organizers planning markets and community events, corporate functions, and fundraisers during the year. It would be easy to say “yes” to all of them but be careful not to jump in with both feet without first deciding whether or not the performance makes sense for your choir. Many of these events fall around the same time of year, and you don’t want to find yourself running from one venue to the next trying to fit it all in. Pick the events that work for you and your choir, decide whether the event fits your style and size of the choir. Consider the timing, not only in terms of the time of year but also the time of day – it’s difficult committing to a mid-week, lunchtime performance, no matter how exciting it sounds, if most of your members are working and finally, think about what repertoire might work for the specific event – sometimes, it may just not be appropriate!
There are opportunities everywhere!
Start by looking back over the last year or two and figure out what worked and what didn’t. No one wants to revisit an unsuccessful event, whether related to choir participation or audience attendance and feedback. Next, look for venues around your town or city that could potentially showcase your choirs, such as shopping malls or supermarkets, sports events, care facilities and even libraries. These types of one-off events are not only a good way to prelude your larger, full-scale end of year show but also a wonderful opportunity to market yourself to a wider audience. Whether you’re trying to promote the sale of tickets or just entice new members to join, what better way to show the public exactly who you are and what you do? Don’t be afraid to “sell” yourself and even consider producing a simple promotional board to place in full view of those watching strategically.
When is a performance not a performance?
The traditional performance where your choir stands in front of an audience is your bread and butter but wouldn’t it be refreshing to perform just for the fun of it. The space, lighting and acoustics don’t always have to be perfect, and sometimes it’s those events that prove to be the most fun. Grab a speaker and head to a local park for an impromptu sing-a-long, organize a karaoke event where members can sing songs from their repertoire just for fun – we once hired an entire Karaoke venue and sang in harmony. In contrast, various members grabbed the mic to entertain us with their individual talents; it was probably one of the most fun evenings we’d ever spent together. Think about putting together a Flash mob that will surprise and wow all those lucky enough to catch it, or go all out and take your members into a recording studio, or make a music video just for the experience! Think outside the box, do something different and don’t worry too much if there is a cost involved as members will gladly contribute “a fee” to be part of an exciting, new and uplifting life experience.
When all is said and done, a performance should be enjoyable for all parties. It’s fun and exciting to push the boundaries but can also create anxiety and stress if you’ve overcommitted creatively or financially. So once again, it all comes down to your comfort levels and what is right for you and your choir; just don’t be confined or restricted by the idea of traditional performance. There are opportunities everywhere, and sometimes it just takes a little creative thinking (something you have in abundance) and the ability to think outside the box, be confident and run with an idea, no matter how quirky it may seem at first. Good luck as you begin to plan, and don’t forget to post your upcoming events in our Canadian Choir Leader Network Facebook group, we’d all love to hear what you’re up to and look forward to supporting you when and where we can!
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