how to set up a choir, new choir

How to set up a new choir :)

A couple of people have asked me lately how easy (or hard!) it is to set up a successful choir and so I thought I would write down some of my initial structure when we set up MicWire just over a year ago.

1. What type of choir would you like to set up?

First of all, figure out what other choirs there are locally. Is there need for a new choir in your area and how is it going to set itself apart from the rest? Will it be an audition choir or can anybody join? What sort of music will you sing?

2. Asking other people for help

Whilst the internet can provide a multitude of ideas, guidance and strategy when setting up your choir, for me, the whole point of setting up MicWire was to bring together lots of like minded individuals to enjoy a singing experience that was different to everything else out there. To achieve this – I asked other people what they wanted from a choir that was perhaps missing from the existing groups and lots of ideas came forth that I could work with.

3. Keeping clarity and focus

There is SO MUCH amazing music out there to choose from and so many amazing choirs, each with their own niche and strength. When we set up MicWire, we chose to focus on Soul, MoTown and Gospel music. This helps us focus on which music to choose for our repertoire and gives us a clear advertising strategy. This is both when finding new members and for advertising performances. If people know what we are likely to be singing – they will know if it’s the kind of music they enjoy and whether to come and give it a try or come and listen to our performances. It also helped me to come up with the catchy name and logo as I knew what I wanted to deliver from the outset. We follow through on our MicWire message with the colours we wear, our ongoing branding and our online presence.

4. Finding a location for rehearsals

Deciding when and where to have your choir rehearsal is probably the hardest decision to make. Personally, I had to fit choir with my own timetable to make sure I could attend every week. I also wanted to make sure that the choir provided a location that was easily accessible, centrally placed, safe for young and older members to get to in winter and somewhere that had good parking facilities. I thought that Friday evenings or daytime rehearsals would  perhaps discourage younger members, day workers or singers with families from attending. I also wanted to avoid being on the same night as the other local choirs so that singers would be able to come along to both if they wanted to: Singers just love singing!

5. Finding a choir leader

If you’re not planning on leading the choir yourself, you will need to find a choir leader to host the rehearsals. You may want to hire an accompanist too. This leads us to…

6. Organising Finance

Hiring a professional choir leader, professional accompanist, paying for the rehearsal venue, paying for sheet music music, purchasing backing tracks, software and hardware to record rehearsal tracks, printing costs, spending money and time on advertising, your website, a website builder, a logo designer, web hosting, business cards, flyers, posters, stationary, equipment, a keyboard, an amp or speaker and social media ads all cost money before you’ve even had your first rehearsal. There are various arts funding opportunities available, there maybe a local budget for creative arts in your town, you could ask a local company for sponsorship to get you started and you could charge a fee to participate in choir rehearsals weekly, monthly or annually. Once your choir is established, you can charge for your performances too.

7. Recruiting People to Sing in the Choir

In my experience, word of mouth is the strongest and most effective tool of recruiting new choir members. You should have an up-to-date website to direct people to and you can use social media ads to get the word out. Advertising on local council pages or music / choir pages is a great idea. Putting up posters in local shops and businesses is also a good way to generate interest. Ask your first members to put up a few posters each and to bring a friend to the next rehearsal – perhaps offer an incentive to encourage your singers to spread the word.

8. Organisation and Administration

This bit is not for the feint hearted! So much needs organising to keep a choir running successfully. Here are just a few things that probably need to be sorted out as an ongoing capacity once your choir is set up:

  • Choosing the songs for the choir to sing
  • Arranging songs yourself or choosing appropriate musical arrangements for the people who attend your choir
  • Finding and purchasing accurate backing tracks (appropriate key, correct version etc)
  • Advertising for new members
  • Advertising for gigs
  • Posting on Social Media to generate (and maintain) interest
  • Writing blog posts to promote what your choir is doing
  • Thinking of interesting warm-ups for rehearsals including vocal and physical warm-ups and listening or rhythm exercises
  • Promoting vocal health and good singing habits for all singers
  • Ensuring you’re teaching at the appropriate level for the members who turn up
  • Creating rehearsal tracks
  • Organising concerts
  • Advertising concerts to make sure an audience come to watch and enjoy
  • Liasing with event organisers to get performance bookings for the choir
  • Liaising with the choir to make sure they can turn up at concerts!
  • Arranging social events outside of choir rehearsals
  • Keeping on top of finances and paying invoices
  • Updating the website and social platforms as your choir grows and develops
  • Planning rehearsals
  • Keeping record of rehearsals to ensure continuous improvements are made to the music being learned
  • Listening to feedback and suggestions for the choir
  • Implementing feedback and suggestions from the choir
  • Maintaining objectives and giving the choir something to work towards – such as a concert
  • Applying for funding
  • Organising payments for the PRS
  • Ensuring everyone is having fun!

9. Satisfied singers mean everything to the success of the choir!

If I’ve learned anything in our first 15 months, it is that your actual choir members make all of this possible. In MicWire everyone is so eager to help, to join in, to promote concerts, sing in concerts and to host concerts. Most of the performances we have done have been organised by singers in the choir putting us in touch with the right people. We have performed in several charity events, on the radio, at private gigs and at community days.

Collaboration is great and the local community is wonderful to get involved with. Get out and perform at local events – its a great way to boost the bank balance as well as advertising the choir to potential new members!

Use personal choir connections: Singers like music, they like concerts and they will likely sing elsewhere too. They may even know other musicians who you can collaborate with. There are endless suggestions from MicWire members of repertoire they would like to sing, people they would like to sing with and places they would like to perform. These may be both appropriate, inappropriate and even hilarious(!) but better to have too many options than not enough.

Running a choir takes dedication and passion. It is such great fun and you’ll meet no end of incredible people in setting up a choir of your own.

It is hard work but it is amazing fun, immensely rewarding, amazing for the community and local area and, in my opinion, absolutely worth it. If you decide setting up a new choir is too much to take on alone, perhaps form a collaborative committee or join another existing choir. Good luck on your new musical adventures, whatever you decide!

MicWire visit The Recording Studio

On Saturday 28th July, 21 members of MicWire took over the newly refurbished Orchard Studios for the whole day to record the awesome soul hit Human by Rag ‘n’ Bone Man.

“It was a lovely venue and a great experience”

We were thrilled to be the FIRST CHOIR to record in the new studio space. There was still so much going on with the building work – but the new studio space was fab: how exciting for us all!

“It gave us a good chance to chat to other members of the choir which we might not do in a normal evening, with having different groups singing at different intervals. Loved every minute of it.”

Crewe Choir go to Orchard Studios recording

For all of the choir, it was a hugely intrepid, hardworking and fun day out. Most of our singers explained that it was the first time they had ever visited a recording studio, let alone recorded in one!

“If I hadn’t joined the choir I would never had this experience”

MicWire Sopranos

We worked hard learning the music in our rehearsals approaching the big day. On the day itself, we built our song part by part. We are not an audition choir and many of our members do not read music.  As such, we did a few takes of the trickier lines to ensure we found the best we could get.

“Lovely hanging out with everyone in the studio, and in the beautiful grounds, or simply sitting at the foot of the stairs when it rained.”

Basses at MicWire

Every single person worked incredibly hard learning the music and performing on the day. We discovered that with our headphones on, we lost some of the dynamic interpretation and emotional intention of a live performance. But with a little work, we think we captured a real sense of what we are capable of.

“Loved every second of it!”

We’re extremely excited to hear the final audio mix in a few weeks. Additionally, for our future plans we are intending to make a full music video with this recording. We will proudly share the final cut with you when we have finished making it.

Of course, all new choir members are welcome to be a part of our video too – so come and get involved in something so much more than just a choir! We rehearse every Wednesday at Studio 3, Crewe Lifestyle Centre from 7:30-9pm. Over here, we do things a little differently… come and be a part of our crazy fun singing adventures, we would love for you to join us.

“Really enjoyed it”

Crewe Place Branding Workshop

On Friday 20th July, Kate attended the Crewe Place Branding Workshop on behalf of MicWire.

“Place branding is a perception that people have about a place and it’s reputation in the eyes of residents, investors, workers, visitors and wider public.

The sense of a place represents a range of tangible and intangible elements (historic, symbolic, cultural, economic and physical) that together make a place special and distinctive, and therefore potentially competitive and successful from the perspectivenof those who live, work of come from a place, and those who have an external perspective.

The meeting aims to find out the identity and the personality of the town in order to develop a shared place branding strategy for Crewe.”

It is an exciting time to be involved in the branding of Crewe. There is a lot of positivity and strength when so many people from so many different businesses come together with a shared purpose.

The speaker, Professor Vish Maheshwari spoke of:

Presence, Potential, Place, Pulse, Pre-requisites and People

In boosting arts and culture around the town, MicWire have the people and skills to bring music and singing to local community events set up by other groups. There was also animated talk of new collaborations with other longstanding musical groups over the next few years as well – so watch this space!

If your business or group would like to get involved with the Crewe Place Branding Strategy, you should contact Simona Garnero at the Crewe Town Council.