Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Can male voice choirs survive?

Can the male voice choir survive? - read this telegraph article - it stresses the physical and mental health benefits of singing and social interaction, especially when choir members are working toward a common objective, such as a distinctive sound.

See also reasons for singing previously on this blog




This book came out in 2012 and has a chapter on UK male voice choirs, by Peter Davies. Here are some summaries from a survey of over 450 choirs.

(1) Four part harmony, usually not close, two and a half octaves centring on G below middle C. Piano or organ accompaniment and no choreography.

(2) 60% of choirs have a membership exceeding 40. Majority have an age range 56-85.

(3) Recruitment following natural events is biggest concern.

(4) Financed through membership and concert fees. Few have sponsorships or grants. Average fee for concerts £150. 3% charge over £400.

(5) Conservative music choices. Slow repertoire turnover, largely due to inability to read music. Welsh hymns, spirituals, post-war pop songs and songs from the shows.

(6) 25% have entered a contest within the last 12 months. Two thirds positive, one third neutral or negative. Main problem is grumpiness at not winning. Simply taking part or getting constructive suggestions for improvement are not valued.

(7) 50% perform once a month. Average audience 140.

Overall impression is gradual decline, despite recognised benefits. Some choirs amalgamate. 
Choral work is not particularly attractive to younger generations given everything on offer, and so natural events are not corrected for.
School choirs associated with arts, music centres and mentoring male voice choirs are on the increase.
More opportunities to train as singing and choral coaches are also increasing.

And the point? Singing in a male voice choir is great and a under threat, but given careful marketing (stressing the benefits) and resources, it can survive and thrive.


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