Improving a choir can be a challenging task to do, there is simply not enough information about what you can do. Luckily for you, I am here to help and you will know everything to need about improving and training a choir in such a way that it actually will sound better.
In order to improve a choir, you will have to focus on both the individual singer and on the whole choir as well. Choir singing is a team effort and your job is to make the choir sound as good as possible, for this, you have to be extremely specific with your instructions, and you have to know the strongest and the weakest singers in the choir, and only then you can start improving the choir.
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A lot of beginner singers begin their career as a singer in a choir, choirs are excellent places to learn for any singer, no matter what kind of genre of music you like to sing. I highly recommend any beginner singer to join a choir, as there is so much you can learn from being in a choir and it will not cost you anything but time. A lot of beginner singers who have a couple of friends passionate about singing or music, in general, tend to band together and form a band.
Although there is nothing wrong with forming a band, the problem is that none of the band members have any experience of singing and music in general. Most bands die-off fairly quickly, however, bands made out of former choir members have an advantage, they already know that singing in a band is almost the same as an in a choir, it is a team effort. The simple fact that most people do not realize that the success of a band is mostly determined by the cohesion between the members and by their ability to play a part in the band and not to be its superstar.
If you have read through some of my articles you probably noticed that most of my articles where I teach different ideas and techniques that I highly recommend to any singer to join a choir. Teaching yourself is all fun and that, but the problem is that you will be limited by your own knowledge and inexperience about singing, there is so much talent and knowledge in a choir that you will probably learn more about singing in a choir than from any vocal coach or conservatory.
Everything can be improved, even a choir and you do not even have to be the director of it. Just as long as you can keep in mind that choir singing is a team effort and everybody has to do their own part. Choir singing is considered by many to be classical singing, in essence, it truly is, the problem is that not a lot of singers do join choirs as they are more focused on pop singing and solo singing rather than being part of a choir. If you are wondering if singing in a choir will make you a better classical singer the short answer is yes, as for how and why check my recent article How to sing classically? ( In 9 Easy Steps ).
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Practice with the goal of improving the choir
Practice is vital for any singer, this is also true for choirs, the problem is on why some choirs never improve is mostly because they keep practicing the same old stuff and never focusing on actually getting better as a choir. There are a lot of choir rehearsal techniques that you can use, from any simple breathing technique to the more complex choir singing techniques. Choirs are often led by a choirmaster but this isn’t always the case, but in general, there should be a leader who takes charge of the direction of where the choir should improve and on what matters they should focus.
If your goals I to improve the choir then you first need to identify at which techniques or songs the choir actually is falling behind. In addition to this, you will also notice that who is dragging down the choir, in any choir, there is at least one black sheep and if you do not have the heart to get rid of it then you will have to focus on his practices even more. A choir is only as good as its worst singers are.
Focus on the vocal skills of individual choir members
You will have to determine the vocal skills of each of the choir’s members, this way you will know who is your strongest asset in the choir and on which skills you should work on improving. My recommendation is to listen to each and every one member in the choir sing individually, generally speaking, they all should have more or less the same tone and voice technique, but this is not always the case.
Remember that your main goal in improving the choir is to make the choir as a unit sing better, a lot of people will argue that the individual vocal skill of the members of the choir does not really matter, I strongly disagree. The individual singers in any choir will make the sound of the choir, this, of course, is also directly correlated to their experience in singing as a team, which will make any choir sound better.
If you are a member of a choir and your main goal is to become a singer later in life you will have to keep on working on your vocal skills even after the practice sessions of the choir ended for that week, my personal recommendation is to practice every day as it will make you a better singer, for more information check out my article Does singing every day improve your voice? ( How and Why? ).
Lead the choir to get better
If you are the head of a choir or the conductor then you need to understand that you are the one where everybody looks when things go bad with the sound of the choir. There are plenty of authoritarian conductors in the world, generally speaking, these impose their ideas and views on how the choir should perform without taking any suggestions. The problem is that the cohesion of the choir might be split because of this, while some members will think that you are a good conductor, others will disagree with your techniques.
The ones that disagree and no matter how hard they try to make any suggestion, will sooner or later simply leave the choir. My recommendation is to be a friendly choir conductor, this way anybody who has any difficulty singing due to some technical problems can simply go and ask you for advice. If you do not think that you are an authoritarian conductor then just think how often do choir members ask you for advice, if they ask often then you are a friendly and balanced conductor, if they do not ask you for advice even if they are struggling then it probably means that they are too scared of you because you are so authoritarian.
Listen to feedback from the choir
There is nothing worse than not listening to feedback if you want to improve a choir. The members of the choir will actually have a different perspective on how to improve the choir, my recommendation is to start listening to them. While most feedback will be probably just pats on the back, but sometimes you might hear a hidden gem, and only with some minor adjustments you can achieve miracles with the voice of the choir.
Teach the choir
Oftentimes what makes a good choir is the ability of the lead singer or conductor to teach. The problem is that most conductors point out individual singers’ problems and that they should either stop doing that or improve. The sound of a choir is a team effort, however, the voice of the individual is extremely important, so make sure that if anybody from the choir struggles with some certain singing technique then to point out what they are doing wrong and to actually teach them how to do it correctly.
Challange the choir with new songs
Sooner or later everybody gets bored with singing the same old songs, and you can literally see the boredom on the face of the choir members. I get it, you want to train the choir to be as good as they can be, the problem is that all that repetition sooner or later will become extremely boring. My recommendation is to mix it up with a fresh song once in a while, keep on focusing on improving singing the same old song but also let them sing some new song once in a while.
Be specific in your instructions to the choir
It is extremely infuriating when someone tells you to stop doing something and you have simply no clue what you are doing wrong. If you want to know how to build a strong choir then it is vital to be specific in your instructions, do not just call out someone’s name, be specific if they have done something wrong, and teach them how to do it correctly. It is also important to give the members of a choir examples of choirs as to how you want the choir to sound like.
If the members have a clear idea of what you are trying to achieve in terms of sound and tone, then it will be far easier for them to adjust and improve.
Balance the volume and tone of the choir
If you want to know how to make a choir sound good then you have to focus on volume and tone. Generally speaking, most of your choir members should have the same overall balance and tone, exception do apply when only the tenors or the baritones are singing as the volume of those two groups generally speaking will be probably higher. With all the talent and the different types of voices in a choir, it is necessary to achieve some kind of balance, both in tone and sound volume.
A part of being able to sing in tone is determined by the ability of you to sing in key, while most people do think that singing in key and in tone is the same, the truth is that there are some major differences between the two of them. If you want to know what is key singing and how to do it then check out my article How to sing in key for beginners ( In 9 Easy Steps ).
Have better choir discipline
Although a lot of people would disagree but in my opinion discipline in a choir is as important as the sound quality of the choir. Generally speaking, the more disciplined a choir is the better it sounds, although there are some exceptions where the choir is doing its best to follow the director but the director is leading them down a path where they simply can not perform at their best as a singer. If you have ever sung in a church choir then you know the church choir discipline, my recommendation is to try and at least try to adopt some parts of their discipline into your own choir.
Organize the choir to get better
You will have to know how to organize a choir, or else it will be chaos. You should know who are your best assets in the choir, what type of voice type your choir has in general, and most importantly know if all the different singers in the choir can actually blend together to make a good sounding choir. When it comes to the organizing of a choir, my recommendation is not only to focus on their voice, take note of their personalities also, as far too often singers would want to get into the spotlight which isn’t the best idea in a choir.
Most people do not take a schedule seriously enough if you as a conductor want to be taken seriously then always be on time, and simply stop rehearsing once the time has run out, do not keep them for extra 10-15 minutes as your choir members probably have other stuff to do as well.
Recruit new talent for the choir
The problem is with most choirs is that once the conductor thinks that there are plenty of talented people in the choir then he simply stops recruiting new talent, and not even imagining that some of that talent may be gone due to different reasons. You should always keep your door open for new singers, now I am not saying to accept anybody who comes. What I am saying is to invite people who you consider talented to sit at a rehearsal, maybe they will like it or maybe they won’t, the idea is to let them see what is happening at a rehearsal.
A lot of choir directors have problems with getting new talent into their choir if this is you then my recommendation is to ask for the help of the actual members of the choir. Odds are that they know at least a couple of people who love to sing and would be a good addition to the choir.
If you want to improve a choir then my recommendation is to follow the above tips, just keep in mind that anybody who is singing in your choir has to be able to be a team player, there is no place for solo superstars in a choir. Your first goal should be to identify where your choir has an edge and where it is actually struggling, then simply focus on improving the choir in general and the individual members of the choir.