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Dealing with charge of 'ageism' in a choir

Started by Julia Shaw at 13:33 on 17/01/2012

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Julia Shaw, 13:33 on 17/01/2012

A choir is reviewing its membership - it has a healthy 134 members, of which about 80 are over 60 years of age - not untypical. It struggles to find suitable venues to accommodate such a large number, plus orchestra and healthy audiences - a nice problem, but a problem neverthless!

In reviewing how it moves forward, concerns about an 'ageist' approach have been levelled at the choir committee. Has anyone else managed such a situation? How have others balanced the age vs youth conundrum, to make a group sustainable in the longer term?

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Mick Dargan, 20:24 on 12/02/2012

Simple answer is don't be 'ageist'.

Make sure you target the right area though. Take indoor bowls as an example; it is played predominently (but not exclusively) by the older end of our communities. Is it worth advertising for new choir members at the local bowling club then? No, probably not. You need to find an area of the community which is enjoyed predominently by under 50s. Ask your current 50 year olds what else they do in their spare time. Even ask the right age range to be on the lookout for any of their circle of friends who they think might be interested in joining.

Don't, however, put yourself into a situation where you're going to turn away some potentially good singers just because they don't fall into your targeted age range.

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John Leslie, 21:33 on 02/04/2012

Julia - We are fortunate to have a good proportion of younger singers in our choir of about 150. A couple of suggestions: use media that younger people use - not just a website (actually a 'blog' format site is better as it allows prospective members to post questions and see answers to others' posts), but make use of Facebook and/or Google Groups - even Twitter. Look at another area that separates older and younger singers - disposable income; younger singers often have significantly less cash in hand so make sure your subs, music costs etc are as low as you can get them. Try your hardest to get younger singers onto your committee and make them welcome; respect their views and advice. It's rather easy for a choir's direction to centre round the longest-established members and their preferences - be sure that you consult, listen to and cater for the preferences of younger singers too - whether repertoire, rehearsal timings, social events or other aspects. Hope this helps!

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Julia Shaw, 19:00 on 10/04/2012

Thank you Mick and John, useful comments both and will be shared with our commitee.

Great to know our members are attracting young people as well as sustaining our more mature participants.

Thanks again

Julia

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