ANY people are concerned about the prospect of something called The Great Reset. I studiously ignore the news and eschew mainstream society, so I’m only vaguely aware of what The Great Reset is. According to several websites of varying veracity, it seems to be a reordering of social and economic priorities in the wake of COVID. It may or may not be a global conspiracy, and it may or may not be evil.
I’m not going to dig any deeper. But I do think the concept of a Great Reset holds considerable potential for choirs.
Think about it: COVID didn’t just disrupt the global economy—it also disrupted our church music programs. If governments and corporations are using COVID as an opportunity to reset whatever they don’t like, then so can choir directors.
We’ve all suffered through many months of not singing, or of singing with limited forces. When our full choirs return, if they haven’t already, our singers will be happy just to be together again. They will also have forgotten some of their old habits. Now is the perfect time to implement all those changes that you knew you needed to make but didn’t want to rock the boat.
Here are some aspects of your choir’s operations that you could “reset” as things return to normal:
- Repertoire. Are you tired of always singing the same motets for Pentecost or that same polyphonic Mass for Christmas? When you return, start learning new music. Some choir members may lament the shelving of their old favorites, but I’ll bet most would welcome the chance to sing anything right now.
- Attendance and punctuality policies. Most choir directors have official policies in this area but get worn down by those few people who are consistently late for rehearsal or flaky about showing up. Now is a good time to reestablish or even strengthen these policies. Announce them to the group and be consistent about enforcing them.
- Warmups. It’s tempting to use the same warmups ad nauseam or skip them entirely because you have so much music to learn. When you return to rehearsals, consider implementing thorough, structured warmups for every rehearsal. You’ll be surprised at the difference in your choir’s sound—and at how much fun everyone has while trying new exercises.
- Roster. There are probably quite a few members of your congregation who have long thought about joining your choir but couldn’t make the time commitment—or hesitated to make that phone call. The pandemic has freed up schedules and shifted priorities for many people. In my parish, I’m seeing much better attendance at daily Masses, longer lines for confession, and a general openness to being more involved in parish life. Consider putting an announcement in your bulletin to invite people to audition for your choir, or to sign up for training as needed.
- Choir handbook. If your choir has long run on word-of-mouth policies and informal customs, you may get better buy-in by issuing a choir handbook. This document doesn’t have to be exhaustive, but it should set forth basic rules and regulations, contact information, and spiritual inspiration. I’ll offer thoughts on how to write a choir handbook in a future article.
Don’t miss this unique opportunity to launch a Great Reset for your choir. Make some coffee, grab a notebook, find a quiet place, and spend some time brainstorming about all the things you could enhance when your ensemble returns to session. Happy planning!