ACCET Community and Church Choir Recruitment Forum

Held at ACCET Choral Conductor Summer School in January 2019

Fifteen conductors attended this forum and notes were taken, thank you, by Robyn Scott-Charlton. Guest leader Simon Halsey attended and Faye Dumont convened. 


Community and church choir conductors and leaders know that, for the health and continuation of their choirs, they need the younger generation joining and becoming the leadership in time; and, for the music repertoire, they need a better balance of male and female singers. 

This forum explored these issues. The Community and Church choir conductors / leaders found that they were dealing with similar problems. 

The areas covered were five:


Problem Possible solutions
Lack of young people 

Young people not wanting to spend their time with oldies. 

Young people attracted to more modern religious approaches to church music e.g. happy clappy and band-based. 

Lack of continuity of young people if they join, due to family and employment issues. 

Plan music that will appeal to the young people.

Attract the children (grandchildren) of choir members. 

Form a separate youth choir.

Engage with singing teachers who can encourage their students to join. 

Be good, exciting, different (quote from Simon).


Ask young people what would attract them to choral music. 

Lack of men

Men, particularly Anglo-Saxon men, don’t think it is a guy thing to do. 

Many older men don’t think they can sing. 

Many older men can’t read music and they think that this prevents them participating in a choir. 


Take the choir to the men e.g. do a gig at a Men’s Shed or other male haunt, using repertoire they can join in e.g. Pub Choir. 

Have special events to promote the choir:

Example 1: church organising a gospel workshop to attract new people and get new repertoire. 

Example 2: Church organised a tour of Europe for the choir, which doubled their numbers.

Encourage and mentor men who are tempted but uncertain.

Engage with the ukulele groups. 


Ask men what would convince them to come and have a try at choir. 

Huge variation in capacity

Choir members who can’t pitch well.

Older choir members whose voices are getting wobbly. 

Some choir members becoming very good singers. 

Mentor and give separate support to choir members who have difficulty with pitch.

Example given of having two choirs, one during the day and one at night, thus separating the wobbly oldies from better singers. 


Provide opportunities for better singers, e.g. encourage them to also join a more demanding choir. Encourage them to try other musical activities as well as the choir e.g. solos, trios, quartets etc. 

Costs of being a choir

Some members don’t like to pay. 

There is quite some variation in the cost of being in choirs. 

The choir is like any other club. People pay for their clubs.

Choir directors and accompanists do a lot of preparatory work and should get an honorarium / a payment. 

Community and church should be providing adequate respect and support for the choir. 

Community and church should be taking advantage of Government and Local Council grants for arts and health. 

Payment to choir Director and Accompanist ANCA has a useful section on payment rates for accompanists and choir directors. 
Competition between choirs for

singers, venues.

Particularly a problem in country areas with limited people and few facilities. 

Seek opportunities for managers to get together to co-operate. 


Continuing the thinking, we invite comment on these problems or on new ones, and solutions and examples offered by you, our colleagues in the choral community. 

Discussion can be via 

Thought processes that might be useful regarding youth recruitment:

What difference in experience and expectation is there between a secondary school student or community youth choir member and the community or church adult choir?

Is it more productive for community or church choirs to recruit from secondary school or community youth level singers, or from tertiary levels? 

What are the consequences in relocation, study, part or full time work and young families for the contribution to be made by young adult singer recruits? 

How does / will the conductor / the choir accommodate singers with differing time commitments? 

Are there settled years for community and church choir singers? Are there consequences for others?

Is there value in cross-referenced performances – teaming with different-aged choirs / with different choir types? 

By what means can choirs tap into local communities and schools?