Can training of new chorus members be done online?

Musical Directors, like me, want to help our newest members get up to speed. At the same time, we don't want to be away from our existing singers for too long. They need us as well.

In my own A Cappella ensemble, the Endeavour Harmony Chorus, we have a good and capable music team who do a wonderful job. But new members still need some of my time for training, and that was the way we did it - face-to-face training with our new recruits separately, during rehearsal time. To reduce this workload, our solution was to take in new members just a couple of times a year, in one big batch, so if I was out in another room training new recruits instead of in front of my chorus, it was only a couple of times a year. No sweat.

However all that changed in 2022, post lockdowns. We are not getting the usual number of people wanting to join us and as we did pre Covid. New members are coming along in dribs and drabs. Rather than saying to them "Come back in 6 months when we have our next intake", (perish the thought! ), we're taking a different approach. We've decided to take in new members whenever they apply to join.

And...... we are putting our 6-week new member vocal training program online. Gulp.

Really? Can an online new member program work? I think it can. I hope it can. Time will tell!

It's also an opportunity to completely revamp the course. Approaches have changed and I've learned a lot over the years. In the past I've been guilty of overwhelming newbies with too much information. My goal as I'm writing this new program is to keep the training to just the most important skills someone new to my chorus needs. What they need to confidently pass their audition. Weekly lessons will be provided online over 6 weeks. New members come along to rehearsals each Tue evening and put into practice their new skills with the two audition songs - supported and encouraged by other chorus members. They also need individual guidance and actual face-to-face coaching. On-line lessons will never replace that! In my chorus, each prospective member gets two PVI's (Personal Vocal Instruction) sessions during their six-week new member program, as well as group coaching at chorus rehearsals.

It occurred to me when designing this course that other choirs, ensembles and choruses might find it useful. I'm calling it the "Better Singer - New Member Vocal Program". It's my own chorus's way of training new members who want to join us, but I suspect most of the content will be relevant and useful to many vocal groups. It can be tailored (to a certain degree) to suit just about any ensemble or choir.

Each module contains a video lesson with explanations, demonstrations and student experiences, a quiz, and some exercises for them to do in their home practice.

There are 8 modules in the course and it's currently in development & being tested. In case this is something that speaks to you, let me know below if you want to be sent the course outline and be alerted when the course launches!

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