I read somewhere there are something in the region of 25,000 choirs in the UK now. This seems a huge number, although I think it also includes school choirs as well. But actually when you do the maths, it’s probably about right. More and more people are singing in choirs than ever before, and if we said 1 million people in the UK were involved in a choir that would give the 25,000 choirs an average membership of 40. Which is probably about right.
Now of course, you should be careful of believing everything you read on the internet. The above paragraph is purely what I read somewhere or perhaps someone told me. I do not offer any basis for it being factually correct. However, I would estimate it’s probably not too far out.
A lot of choirs seem to operate a ‘term’ system roughly in line with school terms. Whether this is a deliberate plan or just easy to organise is uncertain. Most of my choirs operate on a similar basis although we do not necessarily break for quite a long as schools do. One advantage of the ‘term’ system is that you can plan an ‘end of term’ concert with your choir and then you have a known period of time to prepare for said concert.
This seems a very logical way to run your choir and indeed I know of many choirs who operate on this premise. Similarly then, this ‘organisation’ could work for recording a choir CD or digital album. For example, unlike schools who record Christmas CDs in October and November, the majority of choir Christmas CDs are recorded in January.
Recording before or after the event
Choirs have a limited time to rehearse. Lets take the scenario of a community choir preparing for a Christmas concert say in the second week of December. Assuming also they have taken a break in August, then the new term will most likely begin in the first week of September. A lot of these choirs will then probably have a week off at the end of October in line with half term. In a lot of cases this is entirely practical and is on the basis that a number of members with family will quite possibly be away or busy with children / grandchildren at this time.
So if we put all these assumptions together then our hypothetical choir have between 12 and 14 rehearsals to prepare for their Christmas concert. Depending on the amount of repertoire to be learnt this, potentially isn’t that long. And so if you are planning to record as well, realistically it could be a challenge to do this before Christmas. It does however, make a lot of sense to record your Christmas repertoire in mid January. The only downside of this, is that it could be a while before you are able to sell the album!
Booking a Recording
Ultimately there is no right or wrong time do embark on a choir recording. The most important thing is to ensure you give your choir time to be well prepared. A lot of choirs who record with us will generally record repertoire they have prepared for a concert or event. This also makes a lot of sense if after said event, your choir is going to work on new repertoire. This will mean, that by the time you come to sell the CD or album, the music being performed will be different to that on the CD. This in itself will also help you to sell far more CDs than you might otherwise do.
About the Author : Jules Addison is a Director at 4 Part Music Ltd who own ‘Recordings 4 Choirs’. Alongside this he runs 3 choirs in Wiltshire and Gloucestershire and is Organist in Residence at St Thomas a Becket Church in Bath.