Beginner's Guide to Joining a Choir (Where to Find One You Enjoy Singing in, What to Expect When You Join and What to Do Next)


Thinking of joining the choir but do not know if you have what it takes?

What should you do when you decide to join one?

Which choir should you join?

Let me break it down for you in this article. Read on.

Types of Choir

There are many different types of choir out there. Depending on your location and ability level, some choir will be better for you than others.

In general, choirs can be divided into 2 categories:

  • Choirs that perform with musical accompaniment
  • a Cappella choirs (that perform with no musical accompaniment)

If you are a beginner, I encourage you to join choirs that perform with musical accompaniment. Those choirs can be divided into 2 categories:

  • Male or female voice only choir
  • Mixed voice choir

In my opinion, either option is fine but mixed voice choir is probably more common.

You can find choirs in the following places:

  • High schools (if you are a student)
  • Choir groups that cater to school kids (for example: the Australian Girls Choir)
  • Community choirs
  • Church choirs
  • University choirs (some are open to the public, for example: the Sydney University Musical Society Choir)
  • Choir groups set up as a business (for example: the Hummingsong Choir)

I only listed choir groups in Australia because that is where I am from. Do a Google search for your local choir groups.

Some choirs may require you to audition before joining, whereas some do not.

Most choir groups allow you to attend or sit in on one or two rehearsal sessions so you can get a feel for the choir, before making a decision to join or not. I suggest you do that so you make an informed decision.

What to Expect in a Choir

There are many benefits to joining a choir.

The friendship you build with your fellow choir singers is going to be so fulfilling. The feeling you get from singing and harmonizing with other singers is so uplifting. You are all working towards a common goal - making the repertoire sound good - and this is a priceless bonding experience. Your motivation to sing will skyrocket.

The main goal of choir rehearsals is to get the singers ready for upcoming performances. The conductor trains the choir singers to sing the choir repertoire songs. A lot of beginner singers think that joining a choir will improve their vocal technique. This is only partly true. Remember: the main purpose of choir conductors is to get the choir ready for upcoming performances. They are not there to teach you proper vocal technique individually. They just need to get the choir sounding good as a whole. If pressed for time, they may even skip the warm-up. They will not be able to hear you individually, so if you are singing with incorrect technique, they will not be correcting you.

When trying to hear themselves better or just to make their voice stand out, many singers tend to sing too loud. This develops bad vocal habits and causes vocal strain.

Therefore, you should have a strong foundation in singing before joining a choir. You can also take singing lessons outside of your choir rehearsals to train your voice.

You are also expected to practice the songs on your own every week. Your choir director should give you some sort of learning material, such as backing tracks and sheet music to practice at home with.

Know your part well and practice singing your part while other parts are singing/playing at the same time.

Getting Ready For Choir

Now that you know what to expect when joining a choir and have chosen a choir to join, it is time to get you ready for it! By being well-prepared, you will get the most out of your choir experience and make it a positive one.

Know Your Range
Find out what your vocal range and voice type is. Doing so will make it easier for your choir director to assign you to the correct ‘voice’ in the choir. You are going to enjoy choir so much more if you are singing within your range. In saying that, you may request to move to a different voice if it suits you better.

(Go here if you need to know what your range is)

Build Up Your Fundamentals
As mentioned in the previous section, the purpose of choir rehearsals is not to help you improve your individual singing voice, but to get the choir sounding good as a whole. Having strong fundamental vocal technique means you will have the vocal endurance to attend every rehearsal, avoid vocal strain and contribute positively to the overall sound of your choir.

(If you would like to improve your voice but do not want to take private lessons, check out my Shower to Stage Academy)

Manage Your Performance Anxiety
Every singer has some level of performance anxiety, especially beginners. The most common form of performance anxiety is self-consciousness. When you are self conscious, it makes you criticize and doubt yourself. You will start comparing yourself to the other singers in the choir who you think are better than you. As a result, you will tense up your voice and yell the high notes. This is how vocal strain can happen and it makes you enjoy choir less.

(If you would like to manage your performance anxiety but do not want to take private lessons, check out my Shower to Stage Academy)

Know Basic Music Theory (So You Can Read Sheet Music)
If you do not know any music theory at all, I would encourage you to learn some basic music theory. Singers do not generally need to know music theory well as we tend to learn songs by ear. However, if you want to be part of a choir, you will be expected to at least follow along the sheet music when rehearsing and performing.

Here are some things to get you started:

  • Note duration value
  • Pitch names and where they are on the staff
  • Clefs
  • Time signature

A website I like to use with my students is

Give It a Try

I have given you many tips and suggestions above to help you choose and join a choir you like. Feel free to focus on just a few things I mentioned, otherwise you will feel overwhelmed and anxious.

Finding a choir you like is like finding a group of friends you get along with. It may take some time to happen but when it does, your life changes for the better.

Happy singing!


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