I do think that to do that you have to be constantly challenged. New pieces of music are the most obvious choice there. If you always sing in 4 parts, sing in 3 or 6. If your style is always classic, try a more popular style or folk music. I know that many choirs have one style to which they adhere and I suppose that is fine. However, I truly love being able to dabble in various forms of music which to me makes us a more well rounded music group.
When I suggested a few weeks back that we would be mixing up our parts to practise and even practising in the round so that we could better learn to listen and blend, the choir members were aghast. It seemed impossible. Well, we were practising in the Sunday School on Sunday before the service and they were standing randomly, mixed and in a circle. Amazing how that happened and now they can never say "can't" because they can and did. The challenge of practising while the ladies were setting up for tea created an opportunity to stretch and learn.
As I have mentioned before having soloists is not something of which I am fond. I know that there are some pieces that require soloists but I would seldom choose those for our choir if ever. I love using the choir in different ways to create interest in the pieces. That in itself creates challenges for us to keep us sharp. in some arrangements, the altos carry the tune while others it is the basses. Variation is great for singing and listening.
We are working towards singing all of our music by memory. One of our members who was sure he would never be able to do that, managed to make it happen on Sunday. That was his personal challenge, wrapped up in our collective challenge.
We don't work towards putting on one or two big concerts a year but rather participating in fund raising concerts or being entertainment or as last week being the choir for the day. June 22, we will sing at the Relay for Life event in Ingersoll. In these ways, we can fulfill our mandate to be of service to our communities. That in itself can become a challenge for us. For Relay for Life, we get to perform on an outside stage. Last year for this event, it was raining ever so slightly. The stage itself had a cover but I couldn't fit on it with the choir. So I stood on the ground in the rain while they sang. They had to look down to see me and thankfully I had my music in page protectors so they didn't get soggy. Just another challenge. In fact, through all of that the only criticism was that we didn't sing enough songs. This year we will double our count.
We are a volunteer choir. Every one of us volunteers. We started with no money and borrowed music. Now we get donations for some of our presentations and can now purchase music. I know there are many choirs who have paid leadership, expect dues from their members sell tickets for concerts and raise money in other ways. We do not charge to be a member nor do we sell tickets etc. That means that every person who comes does so because he or she wants to. We do it for the sheer love of making music. Have we had members leave us even in our short time as a choir? Yes of course we have. Our core has remained and we have added a number of new singers. It is just another challenge that helps to keep us working to be the best we can be.
Personal and collective challenges keep us sharp and create that wonderful feeling of accomplishment. Each time one of our new members participates in his or her first presentation, the sense of accomplishment is amazing. We need to see each challenge as a learning opportunity and grow. Have we done that from the beginning. The only way that happens is that we do it together. This is the most extraordinary group of singers. Everyone takes a piece of responsibility for making our music the best it can be. We work co-operatively and care about the quality of our music. We are ready for the next challenges. That is what makes us great!