Thinking of starting your own singing group?
There are many different ways of setting up and running a singing group. First, it is important to consider what goal or objective you are trying to achieve with your group. These goals can be musically oriented (e.g., performance), non-musically oriented (e.g., health or community), or both.
We asked the choir directors in the SingWell network for some feedback about the choices they made in setting up their choir.As you read this page, keep in mind the overarching needs and goals for your singing group, and imagine how your choices will allow you to meet these goals.
Goals of group singing:
performance goals, social goals, health goals
Where and when?
Venue: Consider accessibility and cost.
Meeting time: consider availability of participants, volunteers, and caregivers, and medical concerns
Budget: Consider member fees, research grants, and fundraising.
Recruitment: Consider hospitals, community centres, organizations
Choir leader: music therapist, choral director.
Including friends and family: yes— nice opportunity for individuals to spend time with friends and family; an easy activity to include everyone. no— to support independence, “i find that people with aphasia participate less in conversation when the caregiver is there”.
Volunteers e.g., singing champions, socializing champions, assisting with set up and take down.
Repertoire: Consider novel or familiar songs. Call and response. Use of harmony. Level of difficulty.
Warm ups: breathing exercises, vocal exercises, stretching.
Consider use of props or instruments e.g., kazoo, hand bells.
Final performance: yes “… seemed like an appropriate goal for the choir. It gave choir members something to work towards, and an opportunity to share the songs they learned with the public. It was also a great opportunity to raise aphasia awareness”, informal/causal e.g., a sing-a-long for family and friends, no: too much stress or pressure, participants may not want to disclose their disorder publicly.
Social time: yes! include this! Most of the choirs build in a break half way through with snacks, beverages, and time to socialize with other members. We believe this time is crucial for helping members forge deeper connections.
Room configuration: e.g., choir formation (sitting next to those with the same vocal range) or semi-circle to promote a more social orientation
Use of technology: e.g., projecting lyrics, sheet music, or replacing accompanists