How Choir Leaders Are Making A Difference
With a predicted endemic towards the end of 2022, Choir Leaders have to be creative about engaging with their choirs. While many of us have returned under the “Restriction Exemption Programme”, there are still challenges to be faced. This month we talk about some of the struggles we’re facing under this new set of rules and how we’re making a difference to those who choose to join us!
Breaking down barriers
The first challenge is breaking down the barriers surrounding Covid, transmission and singing. Having spent months singing on Zoom, we finally received the news that singing under the “REP” was both permitted and safe – but how do you reassure your members? Changing the mindset that was in place for over a year is no easy task, and many of us saw a decline in our membership when we opened back up in September. It seems what we’ve discovered is that comfort levels vary, and the best policy is to allow members to take the lead – this can be done while gently encouraging them that singing is and can be a safe activity. Allow them to distance, wear masks and take it at their own pace. Over time, you may have noticed that the number of members singing with masks drop from 90% to around 50% as they settle into this new routine. As choir leaders, we’re bridging the gap between enjoyment and safety, and we’re achieving this gradually but positively.
One size doesn’t fit all
It’s also important to listen and quickly act if someone is becoming uncomfortable with a situation. Ask everyone to be considerate of the choices of their fellow singers – while some may be comfortable singing without a mask, others may not, and there must be a “no judgement” philosophy for it to work. Finally, you’ll need to continually ensure that members know your “door is always open” and issues are dealt with promptly. The hope is that you’ll be able to report no outbreaks within your group at the end of the session, and your choir begins to grow again through good practices, time and proof that you’re doing everything to keep members safe while also trying to return to a life where Covid is something we are all going to have to live with.
Creating performance opportunities when there aren’t any!
With performance options at an all-time low and some members still unwilling to commit to performing, it’s important to allow your choir to showcase their hard work. The obvious is to look for outdoor events like the upcoming Christmas Markets, which, weather permitting, can be lots of fun. You could also set up a private “Friends and Family” performance and have your members invite those they feel safe with. Or how about setting up a camera and live streaming a performance at a specific day/time on social media. You could easily promote the “show” ahead of time and make it feel exclusive by having people sign up – much as many professional musicians and singers did throughout Covid. Alternatively, if live streaming is not an option, you could film the event and share it at a later date! The most important thing is to be creative, find ways to share what you’ve taught, even if traditional performances are still slightly out of reach.
Make a difference in your community!
Why not reach beyond your rehearsal room and look at ways to make a difference in your community too. Find a local charity to support, like your hometown Food Bank and make collecting/donating part of your wider focus. Collections, donations, bake sales, think of ways you and your choir can contribute to the broader community – it’s not only fulfilling but also gives your choir a focus other than the dreaded Covid, which seems to have been the only topic of conversation since March of 2020! It’s healthy to acknowledge how lucky we are to sing together again and highlight that not everyone is as fortunate – it puts things into perspective and will give you a sense of pride at how generous your choir community is.
Choir leaders are making a difference right across the country! We’re being brave and jumping back in with two feet following a challenging time by proving that we can reopen our doors safely and bring the joy of music back to our communities. We’re making a difference to our member’s mental health, confidence, and social interactions. We’re making a difference in our communities by offering this activity despite the current fourth wave. Let us know how you’re making a difference by commenting below.
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