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Starting a Children's Choir

My community had a fairly successful children's choir
for several years, but when the director of it
retired, he decided to close it down. It's been two
or three years since it existed, and I would really
like to get one started again.

Do any of you have any advice on how to get started?
A newspaper writer is coming to interview me on
Friday, and I want to have some idea of what I am
going to do so that I can include them in the article.
I would appreciate any help you can give me.


Chris Lamb
Burris Laboratory School
Muncie, IN

on March 25, 2008 5:30pm
At 12:18 PM -0700 3/25/08, Chris Lamb wrote:
>My community had a fairly successful children's choir
>for several years, but when the director of it
>retired, he decided to close it down. It's been two
>or three years since it existed, and I would really
>like to get one started again.
>Do any of you have any advice on how to get started?

Heck, announce it, advertise it, let parents and families know, have
your informational meetings and your auditions, and have someone
who's experienced at working with children and with children's voices
(you?) and a good accompanist lined up to start immediately! Build
it and they will come. After that, it's the reputation that you
build that will attract new kids each year.

But of course BEFORE you do any of those things, get all your ducks
lined up, get together your core people whose energy and enthusiasm
will make it work, and have your plan of action very clear, including
rehearsal and performance sites, repertoire, rehearsal times that
conflict as little as possible with other ongoing activities, and so
on. An important decision to make is the age range you will accept,
the minimum age (whether it's chronological, by school year, or by
social maturity), and when (or whether) kids will age out of the
program. Sure, you can change things as the organization grows, but
have a clear plan to begin with.

And I wish you all the best in your efforts. It's a heck of a lot of
work, but boy, can it be satisfying. My late wife's youth choir at
church was outstanding and went from about age 8 (if socially mature
enough) to high school seniors, and when they'd come home from
college they'd sit in with the Choristers rather than the senior
choir, because they were better and they knew it!

When Robert Shaw was here a few months before his death, he did a
question and answer session with our music majors. One of them asked
him what he got the most satisfaction from, and he answered, "Going
home after the performance." That got the expected laugh, and then
he finished his sentence: "... when everything has gone just as well
as it possibly could." A wise man, indeed!


John R. Howell, Assoc. Prof. of Music
Virginia Tech Department of Music
College of Liberal Arts & Human Sciences
Blacksburg, Virginia, U.S.A 24061-0240
Vox (540) 231-8411 Fax (540) 231-5034

on March 26, 2008 3:25am
Dear Chris,

John listed a whole raft of things for you to do. All of them are
important. You really need to have 'all your ducks in a row' before you
start doing interviews about your choir or advertising for it. You need the
'What, Where, When, Why, Who' totally clear in your mind, and your staff all
lined up. If you know families that were involved in the previous choir,
you could enlist their aid. You also need to be clear on your financial
structure and your goals. Non-profit? Maybe not at the beginning, but that
could be a goal, and take a lot of work in itself. I have started my choir
twice, both more or less successfully, and am now looking at a 3rd shot.

Many children's choirs, including the Indianapolis Children's Choir, began
from summer programs. If you can create a summer program and get good
enrollment, then you can generate interest for a continuing program in the
fall. Henry Leck runs a good training program for teachers in June--and
you're in Indiana, I believe. That might be a great thing for you to take
advantage of. It's called 'Creating Artistry' at Butler Univ and runs June

Best wishes for a successful program.

Eloise Porter
Encore Children's Chorus, Los Angeles

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