We feel we belong to a community when we feel connected with the other people. We are more likely to remain as an active member of a group when we feel valued and our contributions are seen and appreciated. Sometimes it’s about feeling less isolated and more in tune with other people, who are interested in the same things as we are.
If rehearsing online, singers can lose the small social interactions which help us to make those human bonds. For example, when we might arrive at an in person session, there are many habits which occur before the singing even begins…such as opening a door for someone, greeting our fellow singers, asking people about their week, interacting with eye contact and body language. All of these habits help to form our human bonds with other people.
If your singers are in a zoom session, they may still feel disconnected with the others in the group. Even though many singers feel comfortable with zoom sessions now, others may feel that they are still adapting.
Here are 5 simple ideas I use intentionally to connect with my singers:
1. Give individuals praise and attention regularly during the session, using their name and describing what you see. You could comment of their use of facial expression or perhaps they are really engaging in the song with their whole body. By praising individual singers by name, you are acknowledging that they are being noticed even when they think you can’t see them.
2. Send a personal message to the singers by voice memo. This is such an easy way to say hello to your singers or to send a message such as a birthday greeting our a get well wish. WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have a voicemail feature. Your member will enjoy the personal touch and sound of your voice as your speak directly to them. Personally I just find it quicker and easier than typing in a text. I’ve even sung the verse and chorus of a song to a member that I wanted to thank.
3. Encourage your members to set up their own social groups. After an evening with a book specialist, my choir set up their own zoom bookclub. They choose a book to collectively read and then discuss it once a month. Other members have set up craft sharing sessions and coffee mornings. One group has set up a weekly afternoon tea with prosecco session. I intentionally don’t go to these extras but do help with the promotion.
4. Invite members to share a song with the group during the session. I heard this idea from a fellow choir leader, who set up regular ‘slots’ in his session, similar to a radio show. This idea came from Dessert Island Discs where people talk about their favourite pieces of music. It’s even better if your member can share why they have chosen the song or tell a story about where the song fits into their life.
5. Create shared history for your members. Our main moments of shared highs were our in person concerts. We’d raise money for charity, sing our songs we’d been working on and fill a hall. Now we are creating shared history by setting up special sessions and preparing for virtual choir concerts. It doesn’t matter what the focus is, what matters is doing something together. Something that your members can look back on sometime in the future and remember. This is what creates some of the deepest connections.
A connected choir will be an engaged choir. And when choirs are engaged they produce some of their best singing, whether in person or online.
I’d love to know your ideas for keeping your singers engaged and connected online. Come and join us over at The Creative Choir Leader Group