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Recruiting: Ideas for Recruiting Choral Singers

TIPS FOR RECRUITING CHORAL SINGERS
high school and church choir ideas
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Date: Tue, 31 Jan 1995 19:21:13 -0700
From: Nina Gilbert
Subject: Re:Recruiting (PLUS Internet Roadmap update)

Alexa Johnson asks about recruiting high school guys to sing.

The Wabash College Glee Club offered a session on "Attracting Men to
Your Choral Organization" for the Indiana Music Educators Association
five years ago. We distributed a handout of ideas collected from the
guys.

Here is that handout! This list has also appeared in the Indiana state
choral newsletter (now called _The Notation_) and _Quodlibet_ (of the
Intercollegiate Men's Choruses). It is unedited -- it represents all of the
suggestions that the guys had. Thus it includes some self-contradictions.
Incidentally, half of the group responsible for this list had been varsity
athletes in high school, and many were athletes in college.

Note to any state newsletter editors/officers reading this: you are
welcome to reprint this. Please check with me first about an up-to-date
introductory paragraph! Thanks.

Indiana Music Educators Association, January 12, 1990
Attracting men to your choral organization:
Advice from the Wabash College Glee Club

High school choirs, we generally agree, benefit, and attract guys, by
working for the following things:

(1) a socially acceptable, masculine image;
(2) exposure to the students -- the more people see of the group, the
more likely they are to consider it as a possible part of their lives,
(3) personal contact--active recruiting of good prospects,
(4) fun and glamour, and
(5) good scheduling among choir members' other activities.

Here are the guys' individual suggestions in all categories.

I. Image
Get a core of popular student leaders in the choir.
Have the guys in the choir do a guy-type song about things guys do
("Standing on the corner watching all the girls go by").
Be sure guys get masculine parts to sing.
Award varsity letters that are just like sports letters (not with lyres on
them).
Plan a combined concert with a college choir, whether it's mixed or
men's.
If your group is choreographed, let the students participate in the
choreography. Or, hire a good, professional choreographer. Please don't
make guys do silly motions, especially in front of the school (on the other
hand, one of our high school show choirs made a big hit by dressing guys
in cheerleading costumes and girls in football helmets). Find guy-moves.
If your group has a goofy name, change it!
Have a signature tune that people recognize and know they're in for a
good time when they hear it.

II. Exposure
Use things like musicals and pops concerts to get the group heard and
known.
Do things at concerts that people will talk about.
Find ways to perform for the school.
If your show choir performs for the school, be sure to do numbers that
show guys partnering girls -- guys in the audience will see that and want
to be part of it.
Have your choir sing the Star-Spangled Banner at a game.
Schedule a joint concert with the junior high or elementary school, to
give younger kids the idea of trying out for choir when they get to your
grade level.

III. Personal contact
Ask popular girls in the choir to tell you which guys can sing and should
thus be in choir.
Have choir parties. Invite choir prospects, or get choir members to bring
their friends. Have a party after a concert, and get choir prospects to
come to the concert and the party.
Have choir members push choir on their friends, not just mention it.
Go yourself (director) among the students and tell those who have good
voices that you'd like them to try out for choir ("I heard you singing
along with the Star-Spangled Banner at the game..."). Flatter male egos.
Award some sort of premium to anyone who recruits a new choir
member.
Recruit from other performing arts groups -- theater, band.

IV. Fun and glamour

A. Repertoire

Sing fun songs right from the beginning. Suggestions: Barbershop if you
have the right voices. Schumann's _Zigeunerleben_ ("Gypsy Life") -- is
attractive.
Choose songs that are fun to practice.
Avoid boring songs. Avoid dumb, childish things that recall elementary
school.
Kodaly signs get repetitive. "The worst thing was, you'd do it every
single day."
Have lots of solo opportunities for lots of people.
Sing pop stuff.
Have a variety of music in each program, including easy and difficult.

B. Personal

Why did I sing in high school? I liked the kids that were in choir, and I
like to sing.
Mix them up in seating, including scrambling sections so guys and girls
can sit next to each other.
Change seating arrangements frequently.
Glamorize the ensemble and take lots of trips away from school.
Be a lively conductor. Have fun and be human. Develop humor and
rapport.
Weed out people who don't want to be there.
Be fair in assigning solos--hold open tryouts. Choir members quickly
recognize and strongly resent favoritism.
Avoid making choir members sell candy door-to-door to raise money.
Beware social tensions, such as racism -- does your group have a "white"
image, for example, so that perhaps a Black student might be pressured
by his Black friends to stay away? Get respected student leaders from
many factions in the school. Recruit some athletes into the choir.

V. Scheduling

Work out scheduling so that smart kids can be in choir. Work with
guidance counselors.
Be willing to work around sports schedules.
Beware antagonizing other teachers by pulling choir members out of
classes for trips.
Avoid Friday night or Saturday-marathon rehearsals.
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Date: Thu, 2 Feb 1995 12:23:39 -0700
From: David Wayne Anderson
Subject: Re: Recruiting

To add a bit to the discussion about recruiting...

1. Students like to be part of something that is good. This doesn't
always mean something from the current "pop culture". I recall teaching
in a high school where there was an overflow of students desiring to take
Latin. It wasn't that it was "fun" or "easy" but rather that it was known
to be good. It was quality. They wanted to be a part of it. I have found
personally that my choir grows tremendously as it is known for quality,
in literature and accomplishment; at high school or college level. People
like to feel that they are excelling.

2. Students want to belong. A real sense of love and care truly draws
students to organizations. An atmosphere of nurturing and sincere
interest in all students creates a place where they want to be. I know I
respond to this as well, with my peers in professional organizations, as
a member of a faculty, as a member of a church. We cannot forget the
social needs of people that one finds as a member of a performing
organization. People want to have a relationship with their peers and
mentors. I certainly want it for I, too, need the interaction of my humanity.

3. A director must truly love the music and the students and the whole
"thing" of creating art with these mortal instruments. The fervor and
passion for expression of our humanity in our humanity transfers to the
ensemble. The synergy is so dynamic. I've had high school students
"discover" the incredible elements of people like Bruckner and Distler
and Bach and a rack of other great musical thinkers. The aura of the art
transfigures the student and the enthusiasm grows.

4. Building a program is always a process and always hard work. Things
rarely go as planned and one must always monitor and adjust the
strategies used.

These are a few ideas that have impressed me over my few years of
teaching junior high, high school and college. They may not sound very
"practical" and may seem too "philosophical"; but for many of us it is
the basis from which we operate and develop our strategies. It is who we
are and how we live.
-----------------------------------------------------------

Date: Thu, 2 Feb 1995 13:29:44 -0700
From: John C Stuhr-Rommereim
Subject: recruitement

I was about to send a note about recruitment when I read David Anderson's
inspiring message. I don't think anyone could write a more insightful,
eloquent statement on the subject. I was saddened by the ideas presented
by the students in Nina's note because it painted such a depressing
scenario. After reading David's note I regained confidence.

From the sound of the list of ideas, today's high school men are a superficial,
unenlighted group of people. As I remember my high school choral
experiences (I was in high school in the 70's), we performed quality
literature and the men participated without having to be baited into
singing by appeals to their baser instincts. Maybe in retrospect I'm
exaggerating the quality and basic maturity of my high school program
(Richard Hansen, at Acalanes High School, in Lafayette, CA). In any event,
I know that I've always been turned off by cheezy music and superficial,
glitzy tricks. At my high school, there were a fair number of males of a
similar mindset. Are they disappearing? No, this isn't some sort of
choral generation gap. The attributes that David listed always have been
and always will be the things that attract singers: quality work, literature
that offers abiding rewards, a true sense of belonging and concern.

John Stuhr-Rommereim
Grinnell, Iowa 50112
STUHRROM@AC.GRIN.EDU
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Date: Tue, 4 Oct 1994 10:34:28 -0600
From: David Puderbaugh
Subject: church choir recruitment compilation

Choralisters,
As promised, I'm sending a compilation of the many ideas I received
regarding recruitment for church choirs. I have included the names of those
who contributed in order that proper credit be given for great ideas...

John Crandall:
:face-to-face contact between the director and prospect.
:have choir members themselves recruit prospects.
:as the choir processes during the opening hymn, listen for good singers in
the congregation; as the choir recesses on the closing hymn, give invitations
to those individuals.
:schedule a post-rehearsal get-together every 4-6 weeks to foster excite-
ment about the group.

Nina Gilbert:
:peruse back issues of the Choral Journal.

David F. Evans:
:hire good soloists from local college (young people singing solos is
appealing to young people in the church)
:put on a "Music Sunday" consisting of all music and/or...
:a "Lessons and Carols" service at Christmas.
:create a children's choir to feed into the adult choir.

James Langdell:
:during the regular rehearsal, schedule a one-shot session in which the
congregation at large is invited to join the choir. Try new hymns, thematic
groups of pieces, etc. Mix in choir-alone pieces to showcase the choir and
entice prospects.

Gary Funk:
:create an auditioned scholarship fund open to students. In return for a
fixed amount (ie. $400/yr.) which must be used on tuition or lessons, the
recipient(s) must participate in rehearsals and services. Mr. Funk currently
offers four scholarships and has added over a dozen young people to the choir
as a result.

Shelly Stoeckel:
:create a "family choir" that meets every other month or so. Families are
invited to a 1-2 hr. rehearsal on Sat. A potluck follows the rehearsal. The
Family Choir then sings on the following Sunday.

Joan Horn:
:emphasize to choir members the important role of the choir in leading
music in the service.
Bill Rayborn:
:create a "Reunion Choir" where all former members are invited potluck
dinner and brief rehearsal. Issue RSVP invitations. Perform on the following
Sunday.
:"Spy in the Pew"- cards are put in pew racks and congregation is
encouraged to write down names of singers who should be in choir.
:church music survey- congregation evaluates its own talent and experience.
:at an informal service, have everyone stand. Ask those who have never
sung in a church choir to sit. Bring those who remain standing to front of
church with choir. Hold an "instant rehearsal"on a hymn (women on v.1, men on
v.2, etc.). Point out to congregation that choir could be this big on every
Sunday.

Myself:
:I read somewhere where your recruitment should occur in phases: In Sept.,
when Sunday School and choir starts; and after Christmas and Easter
respectively, when congregational awareness of the choir's music-making is at
it's peak.
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Date: Thu, 21 Mar 1996 01:11:36 -0500
From: Jacquetplc@aol.com
To: CHORALIST@lists.Colorado.EDU
Subject: RECRUITMENT: Compilation of Replies to Request for Advice

Special thanks to each person who took the time to reply to my plea for help
earlier this month: "Does anyone have any advice for a new choir director
re:recruiting ideas? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks in advance, Peggy
L. Craig"

Replies were received from:

Lenaslast
MFoster526
ldiment@edcen.ehhs.cmich.edu (Linda Diment)
matrix@clark.net (Maureen Jais-Mick)
mfritz@wave.cape.net (Matthew P. Fritz)
jpressm@cello.gina.calstate.edu (Joel D. Pressman)
mhubbard@cco.caltech.edu (Monica J. Hubbard)
sweehong@singnet.com.sg (Swee Hong Lim)
Elastica98
shouchins@goliath.pbac.edu (Scott A. Houchins)
CREVER@enigma.rider.edu

Here is a compilation of the advice, in the order received. Some are
pertinent to schools, some to church choirs, and some to both:

#1. "Do a good job. The word will get around." - Lenaslast

#2. "I recently discovered that having choir workshops at times when things
start up again, ie. August with school, can be a really big draw for people.
Most recently, I had Constantina Tsolainou, Director of Choral Activities at
Southern Methodist University, come to my rather small church and work with
my choir on all the music we would be singing from September thru December.
It was a bigger success than I could have ever imagined. I had 20 new
people come to the workshop and I gained 15 new choir members from the event.
It took my choir of 20 to a choir of 35. We did a lot of publicity and made
a whole day of it. We have since had 4 - 5 people join because of the
excitement created by kicking the choir season off with a bang (We take a
break in the summer months). I had always before just began with resuming
our Wednesday night rehearsals, with no big event to get things started. I
am now a believer in creating moments through the year which give a lot of
forward momentum to your program. Also, having Constantina come added a lot
of validity to things I had already been saying regarding vocal and choral
techniques.
Everyone is already excited about this coming August and who we may get.
The only problem is that Constantina was so incredible, it will be difficult
to find someone who can match her enthusiasm and ability to draw the choir
into the music. I would recommend anyone interested in an event like this
look into getting Ms. Tsolainou.
Being in Dallas, there are quite a few biggies in church music (Hal
Hopson, Jane Marshall, Lloyd Pfautsch, David Davidson, Joel Martinson, Dede
Duson, etc, etc, etc.). Lots of great resources! Finding creative ways of
using the resources around you may be challenging, but it will also be quite
rewarding and hopefully lots of fun. Good luck on your recruiting! I hope
this might help!" - Marc Foster

#3. "Take the kids you already have to outside performances in local areas.
Invite well-known High school groups to perform for and WITH your kids.
Take your kids to workshops at universities that will spend the day singing
and "hanging" with your kids. Bake cookies for them :) Allow friends to
go with you to vocal competitions/festivals that you students are
participating in. Invite non-choir friends to choir for a day or two. Plan
activities, including singing and non-singing with area school choirs. We
have 10 schools in an 80 mile radius that I often get together with and
sometimes allow friends to come along. Say "HI!" to EVERY POTENTIAL KID you
see the the hallways. Attend athletic and other non-musical activities in
your school and then tell the kid how well they did, when you see them the
next day.
I've gone, in 7 years, from 3 choirs of 20 - 30 kids to 5 choirs of 40 to
55. When this year's 8th graders enter HS Concert choir next year, we will
go from 52 in CC to about 85 - 90. My principal asks, "should we build on?"
He is..of course..just joking!
The main thing is...make and take the time to spend quality time with your
students and be seen and be friendly to those who are NOT YET choir students.
Much luck to you; you have entered the most wonderful teaching profession
you can imagine. The pay-offs are incredible!! Best wishes,

Linda Diment
Vocal Music
Gerrish-Higgins School District
Roscommon, Michigan

#4. "Read IMMEDIATELY John Vertalot's book "Immediately Practice Tips for
Choral Directors" (Augsburg Fortress). - Maureen Jais-Mick

#5. "...in general, there are two things that work in most situations - word
of mouth from choir members who are excited about the group, and successful
performance. I can't tell you how many kids in my high school chorus say
something like, "I heard you guys when you came to our school when I was in
the 3rd grade, and it made me want to be in that chorus." - Joel D.
Pressman,
Beverly Hills High School, CA

#6. "Try organizing a choir dinner whereby new members are invited for the
dinner hosted by choir members - program could include short choir
presentation like what the choir does, etc. Some choir members could also
be asked to do short music numbers,etc. Hope this helps!" - Swee Hong Lim,
Singapore

#7. ""Sing lot's of 60's and 70's music ... an example is Time in a Bottle by
Jim Croce. Good Luck! I am in choir and we just sang that. My choir teacher
is Great!" - Brandy

#8. "Check out the "Music Directors Letter Kit" complete w/ disk by Tim
Leuthauzer, avail. from Pepper. It's directed towards band, but the
letters are usable in many situations. - JOHN CREVER,
M.M. in Music Ed. candidate Director of Music Music Director of
Westminster Choir College Grace Episcopal Church The City Bar Chorus
Princeton, NJ Pemberton, NJ New York, NY.

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Date: Fri, 1 Jan 1999 19:34:44 -0800 (PST)
From: Mary McCarty
To: choralist@lists.colorado.edu
Subject: Children's choir recruitment summary

Hello all,
Here's a summary of the responses that I have received so far.

Thanks to all,
Mary McCarty
Director, Chrysalis Concert Choir
Portland, OR


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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 01 Jan 1999 19:33:19 -0800
From: Mary McCarty
To: mccarty@q7.com
Subject: Children's choir recruitment summary

>From chelekis@worldnet.att.net Fri Jan 1 19:25:20 1999
Date: Fri, 01 Jan 1999 10:56:45 -0600
From: Chelekis
To: mccarty@q7.com
Subject: Re: Recruitment for Children's Community Choirs

Hello Mary,

I have a few suggestions concerning children's choir recruiting:

1. Get to know area school music teachers. If you can build a support group
base with them - you won't need to do much else. At audition time we always
send them a packet containing a cover letter, a brouchure about our chorus,
and a stack of "parent letters" - these are simple form letters that tell
parents about our group plus audition info. The teacher selects students
he/she thinks would be interested, puts in the students name and sends it home
with them. We have had a good deal of success with this method. We try to do
all we can to support the music teachers in the area - and they know this.

2. Make sure your audition notices are printed in your local papers, and do
radio PAs as well. Your local TV station may be interested in doing an early
morning feature about your choir.

3. Have auditon flyers printed up and distribute them to your current members
to post at their school, church, their parents' place of business.

4. Schedule performances at your local libraries & invite all area school
children. Have brouchures available when parents ask about your group.

5. Print up invitations to your next concert & have your singers give them to
their school music teachers, their homeroom teacher, principal & everyone else
outside the family that they know.

I hope these help! Let me know how it turns out!

Anne Chelekis
Founder/Conductor, Huntsville Community Children's Chorus (AL)
chelekis@worldnet.att.net

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>From Fre321@aol.com Fri Jan 1 19:25:31 1999
Date: Fri, 1 Jan 1999 07:58:34 EST
From: Fre321@aol.com
To: mccarty@q7.com
Subject: Re: Recruitment for Children's Community Choirs

Handbills/flyers similar to what the civic sports teams use to
be distributed by the public schools to ALL students.
This always requires schools administrative approval. Being
nonprofit and nonsectarian helps.
This always gives us a tremendous field to audition from,
fills our ranks and heightens the visibility of the group
tremendously.

Edwin Foster
Morris Conservatory Youth Chorus
PO Box 416
Mountain Lakes, NJ 07046

email fre321@aol.com

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>From MLycanclef@aol.com Fri Jan 1 19:25:42 1999
Date: Thu, 31 Dec 1998 21:12:47 EST
From: MLycanclef@aol.com
To: mccarty@q7.com
Subject: Re: Recruitment for Children's Community Choirs

Hello, Mary--

I don't have any direct personal experience here, but I advise you to contact
Sandy Holland of the Charlotte (NC) Children's Choir. Her choir went from
about 35 voices to 150 in 3 or 4 graded choirs in the first few years she was
there. From conversations we had, I remember two things: 1) Building good
relationships with school music teachers in a wide geographical area, and
through them recruiting the exceptional students, so that the community choir
was seen as an enrichment opportunity, not as a competitor; and 2) A week-long
day camp in June, not related to the regular season, where non-auditioned kids
worked on music skills, rehearsed some songs, had lots of fun, and sang a
short concert for their parents at the end of the week. It was easier to get
kids to make the commitment to a week; once they and their parents saw what
they were learning and doing, many of them signed up for the following
fall--and were able to work other commitments, siblings' schedules, etc.,
around the choir.

I publish choral music for women's and treble choirs only. If you'd like a
catalogue, please send me your full mailing address, and I'd be glad to send
one. I have several two-part pieces that are fine for kids.

Best wishes,

Mary Lycan
Treble Clef Music Press
mlycanclef@aol.com

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>From rhoda_popson@yahoo.com Fri Jan 1 19:25:55 1999
Date: Thu, 31 Dec 1998 22:32:16 -0800 (PST)
From: Rhoda Popson
To: mccarty@q7.com, choralist@lists.colorado.edu
Subject: Re: Recruitment for Children's Community Choirs

Hi!
Greetings from the North...

Have you tried approaching music teachers?
... from schools and private teachers?
They should be able to help you recruit some of the stronger singers
that they know.

Promoting your choir by going to schools and performing could help
your "quest". Even if the audience is younger than your 10-15 year
olds, it may spark an interest to join when they are old enough.
Speaking of which, if you are interested, and have enough time, maybe
forming an "introductory" choir for a younger age group might help you
handpick your singers.

///////////////////////


>From jcranda@iac.net Fri Jan 1 19:27:03 1999
Date: Fri, 1 Jan 1999 17:34:20 -0500 (EST)
From: John Crandall
To: Mary McCarty
Subject: Re: Recruitment for Children's Community Choirs

Mary,

I teach grades 5-12 choral music for the Wyoming City Schools in suburban
Cincinnati. In August when I come back to school, there are letters
waiting for me from the May Festival Youth Chorus, Cincinnati Boy Choir
and other area children's and youth choirs asking me to recommend students
to audition for these groups. Some of the groups will also send
information in December regarding second semester audition dates. This
process seems to work very well for the above mentioned groups, although I
have also seen notices on the television cable "community access"
announcement channels for Cincinnati Boy Choir auditions. I hope this
information helps. :)
on August 18, 2003 10:00pm
Bonjour,
le site me para