I can’t get enough of the thrill of competitions—the nerve-racking feeling of going head to head with other chorale groups and learning from that experience. 

To many, that may sound shallow, but that started the spark in me to go ahead and create my choir. Of course, I have hundreds of reasons more profound than just joining competitions, but I had to start somewhere and that’s how to start a choir – as far as I’m concerned.

How About You?

What Are The Common Types Of Choirs

Starting a choir requires that you understand what type of ensemble you are building. Factoring that in will narrow down your choices and fine-tune your target members.

Knowing the type of choir, you will build will help you decide what age bracket to target and, ultimately, the type of pieces you will have your choir perform.

Choir Type According To Voicing

Well, I presume that you are well aware of the different singing voices according to the range and gender—soprano for the highest female voice, alto, tenor, bass, and between. 

If you don’t know what these are, I suggest you do short research to help you decide what choir to build a voicing base.

Mixed Choirs

Mixed choirs are a mixture of male and female singers. Typically sings SATB

or SAB, for that matter.

All Male Choirs

This type of choir is made up of all adult male singers.

All Female Choirs

This choir is the opposite of an all-male chorus, and it is made up of female singers only.

Children's Choir

Just as the name suggests, this type of choir is made up of children and sings a two-part SA, three-part SSA, or more in some cases.

Boys Choir

You can still consider the boys choir to be a variant of a children’s choir; the main difference is that you have a group of young male singers singing female parts.

Choir Type by Organization

I can only speak about the organizational setup of chorale groups in the Philippines, which may or may not be the same in your country.

Elementary Choirs

Grade 1 to 6 is considered the elementary years as far as the Philippine educational system is concerned. If your country can resonate with that, you can understand that this choir can also be called a children’s choir.

High School Or Senior High School Choirs

Choirs that start from Grade 7 to Grade 12 are considered to fit the description of this type of ensemble. These choirs may sound a little bit like a college choir if you have Grade 11 and 12 members, roughly around 16 to 18 years old.

 

College or University choirs are much more mature and more fine-tuned when it comes to the low end of the human vocal range.

College Or University Choirs

College or University Choirs are usually funded or at least acknowledge by their respective schools and were built to render musical services for the school. 

 

Such services would involve singing the national anthem, school hymn, and other musical pieces during school events and activities.

 

College or University choirs as a singing group can already tackle exciting and challenging choral pieces.

Community Choir

A community choir can be any of the previously discussed choirs, but the choir members come from different areas of the community.

 

Unlike school choirs, where you can only audition members going to the same school, choir conductors of this type of organization can invite everyone in the community to join the choir.

Church Choir

These are choirs organized inside a church or any religious denominations.

Civic and Other Organization

Today, different civic organizations and even local governments have chorale groups. LGU Choirs, medical student choirs, and plenty of others exist today.

set goals for your choir

Set Clear Goals For Yourself and The Group – Be Ambitious

I built a choir because I wanted to travel the world, make music with friends, and push my musical gifts to the limit.

I can’t speak on behalf of every choirmaster out there, but I’ve learned that it gives you and your team a purpose to exist and continue existing when you set goals.

Setting goals will give you and your choir a long-term vision and a short term motivation.

As cliche as it may sound, but to have dreams is a free thing; it’s making those dreams happen that require you to pay the price.

Nevertheless, set a goal, and don’t be afraid if it’s an ambitious one and be realistic.

Identify The Benefits You Can Offer If They Decide To Join

Deciding how to start a choir also means you need to know what’s in it for you and your members. Remember, you and everyone else will be spending hours and hours of practice time, and for what?

Here are a few areas that you can check and see what things you can offer to those who would like to join your choir.

Personal Gains

People who join your team will always have a personal reason for doing so. That can help them sing better, know more about music, or look for a sense of community and family.

Regardless of their reasons for joining, your choir will be giving actuality for these reasons and personal gains as they sing with you and everyone else.

Workshops and Training

A choir that is not doing workshops or training is a dead choir. When your members feel that they grow personally and the group grows with it, they are more likely to stay and make music.

Benefits such as workshops and training also allow your choir to meet other groups and make friends with them.

benefits of joining a choir

Performances

The very reason for every choir’s existence is to perform. That can be a simple school or church performance or a nerve-racking performance on local or international competition.

Performances give every member of your choir the reason to sing. It’s the very thing that we spend hours of rehearsals perfecting our craft.

Trips

Not every choir is blessed with this incentive, but when they do, it is rewarding. When choirs get to travel, stronger bonds are built, and they tend to find rehearsals more appealing.

In my personal experience of building choirs, my choristers have more reason to come back to rehearsal and prepare for the next trip after every trip.

Stipends and Cash Incentives

Although cash incentives are something that very few choirs can enjoy, it is absolutely a strong motivator for joining a singing group.

Schools and organizations that offer scholarship programs integrate stipends into every performance as I have been someone who benefited from it. My school dormitory and tuition were paid by the university – perks of being a choir member.

The downside to this benefit is that sometimes there will be members who will have the notion of putting it first rather than the reason for making music.

How To Start a Choir and Sustain It?

Always give them a reason to come back to rehearsal! It’s one thing to start an organization, but it’s another thing to sustain it.

Every conductor out there will always find themselves battling with their members’ attendance, which significantly impacts the rehearsal atmosphere.

Here are a few tips I want to share from my own teaching choirs experience over the years.

Don’t Get Discouraged When You Start With A Small Number.

I’ve met a few conductors that prefer quantity over quality, but I am still convinced that quality should be our priority first over numbers.

When I started my community choir, we only had six people who responded to the invitation. I could have given up there and then, but I didn’t.

When we have a strong desire to practice regardless of numbers, we create a culture of dedication. I noticed that if I base my desire to practice on the number of people who show up, it really won’t help me that much.

how to start a choir and sustain it

Establish An Audition Process

From six people, we grow to 30 more or less. We created a system of finding good singers and dedicated members.

In our case, we have plenty of singers known in the locality for joining pop solo competitions. Somehow it helped establish an image of quality and intimidation.

We don’t care if you do not have that start quality of a voice, but if you have the courage not to be intimidated by those who have it, we value it.

That does not necessarily apply to you and your audition style, but you have to set and build one that compliments you and your group.

Sustaining A Choir Tips

Know Your Members

You are not just there to make music but also to build connections and relationships. They are your students and to be able to help them far beyond music is to know them better.

Check their background or anything that will help you understand their personality. Not every method works for every student – remember that.

So, learning these things can help you teach them better and maximize their talents.

Keep Your Repertoire Interesting

I have found that when you choose songs that your singers love to sing or will love to sing, it always makes rehearsal a bit more fun.

Having an excellent set of songs scheduled for rehearsal makes your singer want to attend practices and, most of all, be part of the group.

Create A Culture Of Success

Having a culture of success means that the group is bent on accomplishing things or getting things done. 

That can be winning a competition or the simple thought of finishing a challenging piece for the group. That may vary from place to place and group to group, but the main idea of succeeding over a given task can sustain your group’s existence.

Build A Structure Of Leadership

You can’t possibly handle everything yourself. It would be best if you learned the art of delegation. Always remember to delegate stuff and teach your members to do so also.

Our choir exists with the following structure.

Chairman of The Board

The Board of Trustees

The Conductor

The Officers of the Group

Section Leaders

We don’t randomly operate because we want to. We have a structure that keeps everything checked and in place, especially when conflict arises.

 

Chairman of The Board

Everyone Is Replaceable – Including The Conductor

I learned this lesson the hard way. I still have some favorites within my group, especially those with musical gifts that can efficiently execute singing quite quickly and beautifully.

But, having to show favorites too much can cost you dearly. In my personal experience, it bit me in the ass.

Teach everyone that regardless of their musical gifts, everyone has a place at the table, and everyone can be replaced – including the conductor.

I almost lost my choir because I was too focused on talented people, and when things went sideways, they were the first people to leave the boat.

Spend Some Time To Celebrate

You don’t need to win a competition to celebrate; building a choir is also creating relationships between members.

And what better way to do it than spending some time together for recreation. In our case, that would be going to the beach.

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