Summer is ending. The kids are headed back to school, the weather is slowly but surely cooling down, and football season is (aptly) “kicking off.” This time of year is a return to normalcy for many, and choir directors would be wise to take advantage and get their folks excited for what’s to come. Whether your choir has been on a break for the summer or you just needs a boost to get the ball rolling for the fall, these tips will inspire your team and help your program gain momentum.
- Recruit new members and make them feel welcome
I don’t know any better way to get a choir excited than to bring in some fresh faces. This bring new personalities, energy, and possibilities. Also, when new people join the choir, it means your choir is growing, and that’s always a good thing. Encourage current members to reach out on social media and in person to recruit members. Be sure to make the newcomers feel like special guests in their first rehearsal. You want them to feel like they’ve joined a big happy family, but they should also understand the responsibility and expectations of your program.
- Establish long-term and short-term goals
Give your members a game plan, keep them informed of what’s to come, and clearly communicate your expectations of them. If your choir uses music folders, have those bad boys packed with octavos and choir books at the first rehearsal – your folks will know you mean business! You can start your first rehearsal with a big Christmas number (nothing that you’re going to spend a lot of time on that night but rather something to whet your choir’s appetite to anticipate the Christmas season.) Similarly, you can challenge your choir to learn a simple song for the following Sunday service. People like a challenge, and they often rise to the occasion in a group setting like a choir.
- Plan a retreat or non-musical project
You can always count on a weekend retreat to bring unity to your choir, both personally and musically. A change of scenery breaks your people out of the routine, and the extra time allows for your people to learn new songs, share in corporate worship, play games, meet in sectionals, and all sorts of other activities. Get creative, and suit this time to meet the needs of your program. Similarly, a non-musical project like a book study, service project, or missions opportunity will do wonders for morale and the spiritual growth of your choral community.
- Get back to basics
The start of a season is always a good time to revisit some of the basic building blocks of your choral program, especially if you’ve just added members. There are plenty of things that are typically “understood” by your veteran choir members — singing/breathing techniques, posture, rules and expectations of the choir, etc. However, it’s good to unpack these elements so that everyone is on the same page. Set aside time for this in your early rehearsals, and you’ll be sure to see long-term improvement.
Always remember: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Get a big picture for the season, then creatively plan the details. Your choir won’t be excited if you’re not. Now put down the coffee — breaktime’s over!
About the author:
Phil Nitz serves as Staff Arranger and Worship Leader at Christ Church Nashville. Upon earning his Master’s Degree in Church Music from Lee University, Phil began his career in Nashville in 2013 and is quickly becoming a sought-after arranger, orchestrator, and vocalist. Though he is well-acquainted with many varying styles, both vocal and instrumental, Phil feels most at home leading worship with his guitar in hand or directing the Christ Church Choir.