Starling Arts’ co-director Emily Garsin busts some common myths about choirs.
We have been running group singing activities at Starling Arts for nine years, and whenever I talk about what we do, I hear the same questions about choirs.
I put some of the myths to rest in my answers below!
Myth: You have to be able to read music
False: While having an understanding of musical notation is useful, it’s not necessary for most amateur choirs. At Starling Arts, we teach parts bit by bit so, if you’d rather, you can learn everything by ear. And over time, members pick up bits of knowledge and become more confident in the musical language.
Myth: You have to do a scary audition
False: Not all choirs require you to audition. Starling’s ethos is that everyone can be part of our community, and we never exclude on the basis of someone’s previous experience (or lack of!) All we ask is that you are passionate about singing and interested in learning how to use your voice as part of the process. While some choirs do audition new members, you can always find out about the process in advance to make sure you’re as prepared and confident as possible.
Myth: Some people just can’t sing!
False: While some people struggle with natural pitching, nearly everyone can learn to improve their voice, by working on control, technique, and confidence with a professional teacher. While not everyone is going to become a professional singer, with hard work we can all improve the voice that we have.
Myth: Choirs are stuffy
False: There is certainly an archaic image of a choir sat hidden behind music that still exists in the mind of a lot of people. But slowly the image of what a choir can be is changing, and there are now so many types of vocal groups that this doesn't have to be the only way if it doesn’t suit you! Choirs can be so many things - political, fun, animated, inspiring, uniting (the list goes on..!). Whatever you are looking for in a vocal group you will probably be able to find it somewhere!
Myth: Joining a choir is scary
False: While starting a new activity can seem daunting, a choir community such as the one at Starling Arts is an open and friendly way to throw yourself into a new hobby. Our new joiners start their journey together in special taster sessions, designed to get all members - new and existing - working together. We aim to have new members feeling confident and pumped even by the end of the first session. Longer standing members are always on hand to point them in the right direction or help with a tricky harmony.
Myth: Singing is hard
True… but here’s why that’s a good thing! Singing in harmony with a group of people is a challenge. You’ll need to work on technique, listening, learning and performance skills and sometimes the music makes you confront emotions or challenges in your own life. But all of this has an excellent upside - the process is incredibly satisfying, and as the group sound and confidence begins to improve, all the hard work becomes more than worth it! Plus in a choir community like Staring Arts you’re supported all the way with resources, tailored warm-ups and sessions, and a great network of other members who each bring unique skills to the table!
Myth: You have to be a brilliant singer to join a choir
False! While it helps if you can hold a tune, you don’t have to be the best singer in the world to be in a choir. The group works together to make the sound, so as long as you’re willing to collaborate and work on the songs together, you’ll be contributing lots, even if you’re no Adele!
If you’d like to give choirs a go, we’re recruiting new members! We’d love to welcome you to a no-obligation taster session so you can see for yourself!
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit our Choir FAQS for more information.