There are probably more singing groups in the UK than you’d imagine.
Who’s starting them and how do you get involved with them in order to learn how to sing?
When you think of singing groups, you probably imagine your typical church choir. This might put a lot of people off.
However, singing groups are rarely like this and, if you've watched shows like The Voice, Britain's Got Talent, and The X Factor, you'll know that there are plenty of contemporary groups, too. While they traditionally sang a classical music repertoire, it’s becoming increasingly common for them to sing more contemporary and popular pieces.
Choirs and vocal groups are also a great way for beginners to improve their singing voice without needing a vocal coach.
So what is a choir and how will it help improve my voice and learn to sing?
A choir is simply a group of singers who work under the direction of a teacher, conductor, or instructor.
In this article, Superprof’s going to explain the benefits of working with a choir to improve your singing without resorting to singing teachers!
What Are the Advantages of Singing in a Choir?
When it comes to learning to sing and your vocal training, there are plenty of benefits to singing in a choir:
No basic level required: even if you don’t know anything about singing, have never read sheet music, never attended voice lessons, and haven’t a clue about music theory, don’t panic! You can still join a choir. There are a lot of choirs that have no requirements when it comes to joining them. While some may ask for an audition, that doesn’t mean that they’ll be scrupulously evaluating your voice. Even if you sing like a bag of cats, there’s a good chance that you’ll find a choir to take you. Your commitment will probably be more important to them than your singing ability.
Working in a group: even if it’s just for fun, singing in a choir requires a lot of work and commitment. Some of them meet multiple times a week and you may even be expected to attend on weekends. If you join the ranks of a choir, you should know what you’re getting yourself into. You shouldn’t skip meetings, either. This will only harm your progress and the group’s progress.
Learning to sing in a group: even if singing lessons have their advantages, it’s not the same as learning to sing as part of a group. Listening to other singers can help you improve. Whether you copy their strengths or avoid making the same mistakes as them, you can learn a lot from other singers. Your fellow singers can give you singing tips on how to warm up, how to sing in tune, and how to breathe correctly.
Meeting people: being part of a group, even a choir, is a great way to meet other people. While you’ll share the stress of getting on stage, you’ll support each other, work together as a group. A choir is as much a team as any other! This also means that you have to be a team player, though!
Gaining self-confidence: at the start, you’ll probably not be comfortable with the idea of singing or other people hearing your voice. Here’s some advice... put yourself behind those who sing much better and more loudly than you at the beginning. You’ll soon hear your voice improving! You’ll be doing solos soon enough and hitting all those high notes.
Psychological and physiological benefits: Did you know that it can also come with the same physiological benefits as doing sport? You’re giving your vocal cords and your diaphragm a good workout, working on your posture, and controlling your breathing. At the highest level, singing is very physically demanding. Don't forget that your voice is your instrument and if you expect to have any singing success, you'll need to take care of it
Learn to Sing Harmonies in a Choir
Who doesn’t just loves the harmonies of Simon and Garfunkel, the Beach Boys, or just some of the amazing groups making a name for themselves on YouTube?
To get results like this, you’re going to have to delve a little deeper into the world of vocal harmonies. Again, these are singing techniques you can learn without the help of a singing teacher. Harmonies are the simultaneous emission of several different sounds. This means that you have at least a basic knowledge of music theory, chords, and a good ear.
In a choir, harmony is king! That’s why singing in a choir is key to learning how to sing harmonies. To put it simply, a harmony is several notes being produced with the same rhythm.
Generally, there are three main notes: the root, the third, and the fifth. For example, a C major chord is made up of C (root), E (third), and G (fifth).
The main voice will sing the root while the other voices will sing the third and fifth. Of course, there are plenty of variations on this.
While you could work on harmonising with your voice teacher, a choir is interesting since singing in harmony with others is one of the main vocal techniques you'll have to master. You’ll learn to sing a root note, a third, and a fifth. Soon you’ll learn how to harmonise with any given pitch and any given singer. However, this isn't the only technique you can learn in a choir, you'll have the opportunity to work on your vibrato and breath control, too.
Useful, isn’t it?
Find Your Vocal Range by Singing with a Choir
Being a singer in a choir isn’t all fun and games! You’ll need to have a voice that’s powerful, solid, and flexible so that you can blend into the group. In this respect, they can be just as demanding as working with a voice teacher. This means you’ll need to adjust your voice to the overall sound. During your voice training with a choir, they'll teach you warm up exercises and singing exercises that are useful for most singers.
However, you need to think about working on your voice outside of the group if you don’t tend to do vocal exercises specific to your vocals when you’re together.
It’s not always easy to find your vocal range when you’re singing as part of a group. In fact, a choir singer can often be expected to sing such a wide variety of songs that they never truly sing in their tessitura.
If your conductor doesn’t tell you what your range is, you might need to look to a private tutor to help you work out what kind of singer you are.
It’s very unlikely that you’ll find your vocal range in a choir and even if you do, you’ll probably end up singing songs that aren’t suitable for your tessitura, vocal timbre, etc. After all, in a choir, it’s the sum, not the parts, that make the music happen.
There are plenty of choirs that are singing contemporary songs and different genres. It won’t be too difficult to find a group that sings music that you enjoy.
Don’t hesitate to look around online to find choirs looking for members!
There are a lot of advantages to being a member of a choir. In addition to the physical and psychological benefits of singing, joining a choir allows you to enjoy a group dynamic, improve your singing, gain self-confidence, and meet new people.
A choir member will also learn how to harmonise with other singers so that they can sing along with other singers in a large number of situations.
The main problem with a choir is also that it’s a group. If a singer isn’t careful, they’ll lost their individuality and they’ll also just be a choir singer.
If you’re looking at becoming a soloist, then you should probably have a look at some of the private tutors on Superprof.
Where Can You Find Choirs in Your Town?
In theory, there are choirs all over the country in both huge cities and tiny villages. In practice, finding choirs isn’t as easy as you might first think.
However, there are a few resources for finding choirs in the UK.
British Choirs on the Net
This site is probably the first place to go for those looking for choirs. It’s simple and clear.
These choirs are sorted both alphabetically and geographically. As long as you know the name of where you live, you should be able to find one. The choirs are grouped by county and there are plenty for almost every county.
When you find the choirs near you, you just have to click on them and it’ll take you to their website.
One thing: Some choirs don’t have their exact geographical location in their name so you’ll have to click to find out more. If you are a conductor with a choir, you should probably get in touch to add yours to the list.
The BBC has put together a list of resources for those wanting to start singing. There are resources for the performing arts, finding choirs, and useful links to get started with singing.
The site also includes resources on breathing, warming up your voice, finding your voice, tips on how to sing, and vocal coaching resources. While the site is no longer being updated, it’s a good place to start.
This site is here to help those doing music voluntarily. You can use it to find choirs by region. Use their search tool to find music groups around the country whether you’re a singer or an instrumentalist. Best of all, you can search the groups by your vocal type or the type of singing you want to do.
Whether you’re interested in choirs, gospel singing, barbershop, or contemporary music, you can search for it on “Making Music”.
There are tonnes of different groups on this site and you’ll probably end up with more options than you know what to do with!