Help! My choir aren’t singing the music I like…

It’s something that is bound to happen at some point in your choral careers. You’ve finally found a choir that you love and you’ve had a great first season exploring the works of your favourite composer but wait, what’s this? You’ve suddenly discovered that, in the second term, the choir will be moving away from your personal choice of music and throwing you into something that you, quite frankly, hate with a passion … what do you do?

You could take a short leave of absence and drop back into the group when someone on the inside lets you know that there are more of your ‘preferred tunes’ on the programme. Some choirs are perhaps more strict on this but I know that many community groups offer a certain come-when-you-like approach; something which has it’s down-sides, as I’ll touch on later …
Whilst I doubt there will ever be a perfect fit, there would also be some logic to suggest that perhaps there is a choir out there that mainly sings music to your tastes and you could request a choral transfer.
Maybe a strongly worded letter to the Director would make you feel better?

It is important to remember that choirs become far more than just the music you sing and it would be a shame to move on, sulk, give up or put in a half-hearted effort on something just because you don’t like a part of it. For many (myself included), choir rehearsals become the highlight of the week for reasons way beyond the actual songs we are singing! The strong social element, the camaraderie, the sense of we’re all in this together. Singing in a choir is all about teamwork and cooperation to ensure the most enjoyable experience and result.

Teamwork is defined as “a cooperative or coordinated effort on the part of a group of persons acting together as a team or in the interests of a common cause” and it is important that this is recognised.
The main things to acknowledge here are the “cooperative”, the “acting together as a team” and “in the interests of a common cause”. As a choir, the “common cause” is, surely, to put on the best performance that you can as a group; with all of your comrades beside you for support! A choir is so much more than a group of voices. It is the blending and coming together of people, with all their differences, similarities, likes and dislikes, to produce something whole from all of those disparate parts.

You might not be aware of it but the person who always sits to the left, right or in front of you might do so because they rely on you. Perhaps your music reading ability is stronger than theirs and it makes them feel more comfortable. Perhaps your voices blend well together and they find it easier to hear and gel with the rest of the section.
You also need to remember that, whilst you spent a term singing music that you love, there might be high percentage of people in the group that hated it in equal measure yet they didn’t abandon ship or necessarily publically voice their distain.
They were there for the sake of the group … aka Team Choir.
This is where it can be challenging if you adopt a come-when-you-like approach as people may feel lost without their human security blanket sitting next to them.

From an educational point of view, if you are relatively new to singing, learning and/or performing something outside of your comfort zone (or something you dislike) will enhance your learning further. There is always something you can learn from a piece of music. A different style of singing, the way the score is put together, performing techniques etc. etc.

I’ve been singing in various choirs for the last 24 years and there have been times where I have hated the music we’re singing, however, I will always find a positive in the piece to make it worthwhile. I truly believe that there is nothing that says “team” more than a choir and you wouldn’t want to be the one to let anyone down …