Leading a choir is no easy task, even for the most seasoned musician. Preparing to be a chorus leader takes years of dedication, musicianship, and discipline. The rewards, however, are abundant; seeing a choir of singers thrive on stage is one of the most edifying moments for any musician. This article will thoroughly discuss the qualifications and experience needed to lead a choir, as well as some tips to bring a choir to its full potential.
Qualifying to lead a choir
First and foremost, a choirmaster, or choral director, must have an education appropriate for music leadership. This education may be through experience or through a university program. Either way, the choral director must have some sort of training in order to qualify for the position.
There are three things every choirmaster must be able to do: read music, keep tempo, and stay calm. Reading music is a given; everyone involved in the music industry, from a technician to a singer, must know how to read music. The second part, keeping tempo, can be a bit more challenging, but by the time a singer is ready to lead a choir, they should be able to keep tempo in their head or by using a small part of their body, like a finger or a tapping foot. Staying calm is also important in a choirmaster; anything can happen on the stage, so the choral director needs to be able to improvise.
Bringing a choir to its full potential
- Build morale
A choir cannot sing together without being together! Offer choir members opportunities to socialize outside of choir practice, like meeting up for coffee – without cream, of course – or a night out for drinks. Building friendships with other singers will help the chorus members feel more comfortable when they are standing on the risers practicing for a performance.
- Expand the singers' horizons
It is just fine for a singer to know the basics; some singers perform excellently without too much formal training. However, a choirmaster should assume that the singers know very little until he is proven wrong. The chorus leader should review singing tactics and practices to keep his team sharp and ready at all times. In addition to the basics, add new and exciting techniques like adding muscle flexing exercises to the warm-up.
- Practice smarter, not longer
When a choir seems to fall behind, the choirmaster's first instinct is to institute longer and more difficult practice sessions. This, however, is counterproductive. Dragging singers into longer and more arduous practices will create bitterness and resentment. Instead, focus on the parts of the songs the singers are struggling with the most, and try new approaches until the singers are able to grasp the concept. Then give a pep talk and let everyone go home and enjoy their evening. Re-evaluate the songs and try again at the next practice.
When education, ability, and techniques are combined, a choirmaster can lead with confidence. It takes years of practice to become a choirmaster, but the dedication pays off in a big way – an amazing choir full of talented, friendly singers on their way to a stunning success.