As Christmas approaches choirs the world over are honing the Christmas standards and planning performances. This can be a stressful time for any choir member as they balance the normal everyday stresses of preparing for Christmas with learning your songs. A choir built on strong team morale is a happy choir more receptive to learning and more enthusiastic. Follow our ten steps to keeping choir morale up to make sure you use the pre-Christmas time wisely!
1. Keep them on Mission
We don’t know about where you are, but here at VZ HQ in the UK our nights are drawing in with darkness hitting before we’ve finished work. If your choir is in the same situation don’t be surprised if you notice them struggling to concentrate more than usual. Leaving home once you’ve got settled in and warm after work to make a cold journey to practice isn’t too appealing. Help keep choir members motivated by keeping them on mission – what is the performance you’re practicing for?
2. Surprise Your Choir
Bringing some chocolates or cakes to practice might lose its novelty if you do it every week, but a surprise here and there can really help lift spirits. A great time for introducing a mid session sweet treat break could be a couple of practices before your next performance. At this point you might be struggling to keep enthusiasm levels up and the gesture will make your choir feel appreciated. It also provides an excellent excuse for a little chin wag!
3. Be Available to Your Choir
You don’t have to be at the end of a phone 24/7 but make sure you’re approachable. Choir members can feel down about practice for a variety of reasons, but you can’t resolve the issue if you don’t know about it. Being available means explicitly telling the team that if they have any questions or concerns they can stay behind and speak to you directly. Choirs who feel free to approach their leaders feel supported and appreciated.
4. Take Time to Reflect
Make sure you take the time to reflect on special achievements in your choir, whether they’re personal or choir related. Keep aware of what your choir is up to outside of practice and – with their consent of course! – acknowledge their accomplishments at the start of choir. If one member has just become a grandparent for example, take a few minutes to celebrate. You can also reflect on choir related accomplishments of course, mentioning someone overcoming a particular difficulty or making a suggestion.
5. Keep Things Fun
To keep choir attendance up your choir members ultimately need to get something from the experience. It may be tempting to be stern and authoritative to keep things moving to the goal of your next performance, but this strategy is unlikely to get you anywhere. It can’t just be pure fun, because of course you’d never get any songs learnt, but being a choir leader is about balance. People join a choir to make friends, increase their confidence, improve their singing and feel part of a team. Assess your own performance and regularly ask yourself, are your choir members getting this experience from your choir?
6. Plan in Advance
Attention spans differ, but most people will quickly get distracted if your session is disorganised. Make sure you’ve planned well in advance for each session including ample breaks and space for questions. When you have an event coming up which the choir is working towards you must give the team plenty of warning. People have busy lives and family they have to plan around; telling them about the Christmas performance with a week’s notice is not going to cut the mustard.
7. Give Clear Instructions
It is vitally important to give clear instructions at all times. The sessions will be much more productive if its clear what everyone is supposed to be doing. In terms of performances, people need to know where they can park, if there are public transport links and what time they need to arrive. A choir lacking clear instructions feels undervalued, appears unprofessional and gets frustrated with your leadership. Clear instructions are also important for the next point, which concerns social events…
8. Spend Quality Time Together
A great way of building team morale is to do things together outside of choir. You could even try to combine your shared passion with something fun and sociable, like attending a Karaoke bar or sing-along movie. As ever, meticulous organisation is a must. Social events will make your team feel more connected and increase the potential for meaningful friendships to develop.
9. Welcome Suggestions
It would be difficult for a choir to operate completely democratically as you’d be stopping every five minutes to take votes, but choir members will become frustrated if they feel their opinion isn’t being heard at all. You might ask that choir members look out for performance opportunities to feed back to the group. You could also take time every now and again to field suggestions for new material.
10. Keep Things Fair
Some people don’t want to put themselves forward and are happy to remain in the background, but not everyone. Picking the same few people to perform solos is favouriteism and will likely bread frustration and jealousy among other choir members. Make sure you switch things up every now and again to keep things fair.