Joining a choir crosses the mind of many singers, whether a trained singer or someone who just enjoys singing around the house. Sometimes it can be hard to take the first step in finding a choir to join, or even knowing where to look. This article will therefore shed some light on the relatively easy processes of joining a choir.
1. Find a Selection of Choirs Near You
The very first step is to find eligible choirs. This means you need to work out how far you are willing to travel and list all the choirs in that vicinity. Below are some tips to find them.
Words to Look For
- Choral group/society/association, etc.
- Singing group
- 'A cappella' group
Choirs can be called any of these names. However, keep in mind that some may have a different meaning to others.
The term 'choir' is the most common term used and can be used for most groups of singers. More often than not, a choir welcomes any new participants, regardless of experience.
A 'choral group' or 'chorus' is normally associated with classical music. These groups tend to be more formal and may require prior musical knowledge or experience. There is usually an audition involved. In saying that, these groups are still worth exploring because they might just like the name.
I will talk more about different types of choirs further down.
Where to Look
Looking online is an easy way to search for choirs. Google Maps, in particular, is very handy because you can look for choirs in a particular area (searching for 'choir' will cover most of the other search terms as well). You could also search for choirs in your city, or check if Facebook has any choir events near you.
Otherwise, you can also ask your singing teacher (if your don't have one, here's an article on finding the right teacher), or you can contact local churches, community centres, town halls and theatres via phone or email.
If you would like to join a virtual choir, it is best to use YouTube. Find videos of virtual choirs and contact the creator of those videos.
2. Narrow Down the Choirs that Suit You
As I mentioned earlier, some choirs focus more on classical music (such as choruses), while others are more modern. There are also choirs that are more lively than others, such as gospel choirs. Below is a list of common types of choirs you may come across.
- Church Choirs: Organised by churches, the style varies depending on which church.
- Gospel Choirs: Very energetic, involving singing songs of faith.
- Chorus or Choral Group: Usually a choir that sings classical music. More often requires an audition and musical knowledge.
- Community Choirs: Choirs designed for anyone in the community to join.
- Men's or Women's Choir: Men or women-only, creating a unique sound. Some may require auditions, some may allow anyone of that gender.
- Youth Choirs: Youth-only. Usually anyone up to a certain age can join.
- School Choirs: Choirs organised by a school for students only.
- Virtual Choir: an online group that are geographically separated, but pre-record themselves singing one part of the whole choir.
- 'A cappella' group: a choir/group that sings without accompaniment. For more information about 'a cappella', have a look at this article.
Each of these offers a unique experience and requires different levels of training. It's at this point that you need to decide which choir would be best for you.
Some choirs are more energetic (such as gospel choirs), while others are more reverent, such as a choral group. You may need to also consider your experience and whether or not you are willing to audition.
Try to find videos online (YouTube) of specific local choirs you are interested in to get a feel for whether you will enjoy joining that group. You could also look at their website.
3. Know What to Expect in a Choir
Rehearsals and Performances
Choirs usually have weekly rehearsals during the week. Rehearsals will also usually be held after-hours to accomodate those that are working during the day. Most performances, however, are held on weekends, so make sure you are willing to offer your free time to commit to the choir.
A rehearsal will involve practicing different performance pieces or working on blending together as a group. Some choirs will do a vocal warmup with the group before the rehearsal, such as singing scales (click here for some examples).
If the choir does not organise vocal warmups, you will be expected to do this in your own time before rehearsals and performances. This article outlines why it is important to warm up your voice before singing. Without warming up, you may find your throat hurts after you sing.
You should also expect prolonged periods of standing as all performances will be standing and this is how most choirs practice as well. If you are elderly or struggle standing for long periods, you can discuss this with the choir director (the person in charge of the choir).
You will also be separated into a specific vocal range. If you're not sure what your vocal range is, take a look at this article. In simple terms, you will be separated into high and low voices. In the article mentioned above, you can learn more about what each range is called.
Most choirs have a uniform to wear to performances, and some even have a uniform for rehearsals. This helps to achieve the visual of one big group singing as one and can also be used to advertise the group's logo. This is something you can discuss when considering joining a choir.
There is certain terminology that will be used during choir rehearsals. This usually involves a basic knowledge of music, but it is not essential in most choirs. It may be useful to brush up of some of these terms, but if you are unsure, you can simply ask the choir director.
4. Apply to Join a Choir
Finally, you need to take the leap and apply for one (or more) of the choirs that you think you would like to join. This means going to their website (or Facebook page), taking down their contact details and getting in touch.
This can be via email, phone or through an application form provided. You should hear back within the week whether or not they are open to new members. Below is a general idea of what information should be included.
- Contact details
- Why you would like to join the choir
- Prior experience with singing or choirs
You may also have questions of your own to help decide whether this is the right fit for you. These questions can include the following.
- Are there any prerequisites for joining the choir?
- How often do they rehearse?
- Where and when do they rehearse?
- How many performances are they involved in and when?
- Does the choir warmup their voices together or prior to rehearsal?
Keep in mind that some professional choirs may require an audition. These choirs prefer to audition their members so they can get a feel for your voice and how well you will fit in with the choir. They also need to ensure that you have the capability to sing well, blend with a group and hold a strong harmony line.
For information on how to prepare for an audition, click here. You may also need to choose your own song to present at the audition. This article details how you can choose a song that showcases the best aspects of your voice.
Joining a Choir with No Experience
Don't worry if you don't have any previous experience with singing choirs. Many choirs are happy to coach new members. They may even have singing teachers available that can offer you private lessons.
Regardless, let them know that you don't have experience and ask if that is okay. I think you will find that being honest will allow the choir director to provide more support than if you pretend that you know what you are doing.
One thing that you may find challenging is learning your part for each song. Usually choir members will be given the sheet music so they can go home and learn/practice their part.
If you can't read sheet music, you will need to consider recording your part at rehearsals. You could also consider downloading an app such as Sheet Music Scanner (click here for their website). This app will scan printed music and be able to play it back to you.
Once you have learned your part, you will then need to work on singing your part while other members sing a difference part. This is known as harmonising. Once you get it, you'll be amazed at how fun it can be.