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So You’re Thinking of Starting a Children’s Choir…First Beginnings – Invitation

School Children Singing Choir with Female Teacher

Creating a choir from nothing is all about invitation: as God constantly invites all of us into loving relationship with him, so God continually and endlessly invites young people to know him and love him through community and service, such as the children’s choir. You must be God’s voice, inviting and encouraging children and their families to become part of this work of love, relentlessly calling and seeking out and gathering in.

 

Advertising

Start by advertising: in print through the parish bulletin and local school newsletters, via posters and flyers; via social media, including parish and diocesan websites and facebook pages; and most essentially, in person and by word-of-mouth. If you are to run a children’s choir, parents and children must know you and recognise you, trust you and understand what you are trying to achieve. Talk to the congregation at an appropriate point during weekend Masses, talk to them after Mass, talk to the Pastoral Council, talk to the local school principal and liturgy leader. Talk to the parish music coordinator and musicians, and Youth Group leaders. Be present, be visible, be enthusiastic, be passionate.

 

Goal-setting

Ask for expressions of interest, and as you are approached by parents and families, listen to their questions and concerns and modify your plans accordingly.

  • Will rehearsals before school work for your parish, or are a significant number of singers from different schools?
  • Will rehearsals immediately after school make it easier for parents, or will rehearsals need to be later to accommodate high school students?
  • Are there children with special needs for which you may need to request added resources from the parish?

 

At the same time explain your goals and plans to parents and families, and make clear the commitment the singers and their families will be making. Make it especially clear that the choir cannot function without willing parent/ carer volunteers and commitment.

 

Start as you mean to go on

Set the ground rules: start as you mean to go on.

  • What is the minimum age, and the maximum?
  • Do you have a director in mind?
  • Do you need an accompanist? Where will you find them?
  • What sort of commitment will you expect from singers in terms of frequency of rehearsals and Masses?
  • Will there be a fee? Auditions?
  • Is this a choir for regular weekend Masses or just for special occasions, eg 1st Eucharist, Confirmation, and Christmas?

 

Making a start

Armed with your list of expressions of interest and contact details, announce the rehearsal time and the choir’s Mass schedule, and begin taking registrations, either on-line through the parish office or on paper before and after weekend Masses. Don’t wait for a minimum number of singers to sign up before initiating the first rehearsal: stick to the announced schedule. If your group are very inexperienced singers, you may like to delay their first Mass for a unspecified period, until after an initial training period.

 

Once rehearsals begin, the Choir itself is its best advertisement. Continue your work of keeping the choir visible: make regular reports on progress to parents and parish; keep advertising; share photos and audio clips on the parish website – NB Written permission from parents/carers is essential for this. Encourage the children to bring their friends and their siblings. After the initial training period, when the Choir sings at Mass for the first time, use that opportunity to introduce the Choir and their work, and invite more singers to join.

 

Written by Patricia Smith

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