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Magic Choral Trick #168 The Most Thankless Choir Job

Of all the jobs I’ve had to do as a director, this one is the most aggravating.

Lining the chorus up for a performance – especially when there are no risers, and when chunks of the choir couldn’t make the gig.

The rows need to be fairly even. Everyone needs a window. No matter how many missing bodies there are, the big bright voices can’t be moved to the front row. When there are no risers, height has to be considered – but in a Barbershop chorus, the tenors have to be further back, or all we’ll hear is the 3rds and 7ths of the chord. If there are some singers who are a little shakier on pitch or words, they need to be in front of the stronger singers, and preferably near someone singing their own part. People who are new, and who haven’t quite got the hang of the expressive face thing can’t stand in the front row.

This is not fun for me, especially when there’s a time crunch. We need to warm up, but there are always some people who have to be late, (almost always for valid reasons) who then need to be accommodated into the line up.

Mercifully, in my Barbershop choruses, I have people willing and able to do this job. And usually with only a small amount of my input.

The main frustration with this job is that the choir members have no idea how difficult it is. And that’s before you even take into account the late arrivals, the side conversations, the fixing of hair and make up, the sudden last minute trips to the bathroom, the stepping out of line to get a last drink of water – not to mention the frantic state of mind of the members who’ve had to drive like crazy people to make it there on time, the people who just came from their stressful job, or the people who got lost.

I am so, so grateful for my performance liner-uppers!!

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