WHAT YOU SAID!
By Helen Gagel
Thanks to all the members who contributed to our open discussion at the annual meeting. Special thanks to group leaders Kathy, Honey, Carole M. and Ruthie. I have reviewed their notes and compiled this summary of what we heard and learned. Members who were not with us at the meeting are welcome to send comments to me, and I will add them to the summary.
Again, thanks to all!
What Is Working Well?
- No surprise here – everyone singled out Alice: “She walks the line so well of high standards and discipline. She does not single people out.” “Alice is a superb director, especially in trying different things to educate the chorus and help us learn to sing the music well.” “. . . all that she does to maintain, challenge and teach.”
- Earning almost as many mentions is the friendly, welcoming environment we are fostering at rehearsals: “Feelings of friendliness, solidarity. . . people are leaving happy.” “The spirit of the chorus is conducive to engagement, friendship, camaraderie.” “. . . the warmth and willingness of each member to help others.”
- Closely tied to (2): Members’ generous sharing of their outside (non-singing) talents, e.g., “We are really lucky to have Sharon.”
- The infusion of new members got several mentions. “More members translates to bigger voice sections, especially tenors.”
- Praise for our new website (and big thanks to Judy for leading the effort). A comment worth noting: “It seems that as we get younger members in our chorus, that they have ideas and tech knowledge that we need to tap into. The new website is exciting to them; however, they can envision more!”
- Additional observations in this category: “Self-discipline has improved among the members.” “People are coming more prepared.” “Everyone wearing nametags helps newer members.”
What Might Be Improved?
- All four groups want the Harmonizers to seek a higher public profile via social media and other outlets. (See next section, how to grow, for more suggestions.)
- All groups had helpful suggestions on learning the music:
- Sectional rehearsals
- Sing with/against other vocal parts as you listen to recordings
- Perhaps we can put a playlist up on Spotify or some other online vehicle for members who are comfortable with the technology.
- Share your techniques for learning the music with other members.
- Several comments about each member’s responsibilities to the group:
- Read the Director’s Notes!!
- Rehearsal is work! If you have a question or comment, raise your hand and ask the director, not your seatmate.
- Two general suggestions that we will follow up on:
- Get an electronic pitch pipe for Alice (like the one we use at performances and singouts).
- Consider forming smaller ensemble that can be ready to perform at venues where there are space/$$ issues.
How Can We Grow the Chorus?
- All groups mentioned seeking a higher public profile: social media, community papers (online and print), flyers/posters in public places (e.g., libraries, community centers, faith communities, medical offices); bumper stickers; yard signs (!); run ads saying we are looking for singers.
- Diversity was cited as a goal—both in our membership and in the repertoire (editor’s note: I think we’ve made great progress on repertoire – but we are always open to new ideas.)
- We can also try to diversify the venues where we sing, e.g., more community events like sidewalk sales, farmers markets