Choir Etiquette

The following suggestions are offered (every year) as ways to make choir members more efficient and less stressed. Keep it light, but work it out. We love you. Many of us don't officially "read music" but every year we get better at faking it. You can too. Some hints.

For rehearsals:


  • Bring a pencil.
  • Bring your folder.
  • Be on time. 
  • Call if you can't. 
  • Even better, mark days you know you'll miss on the sheet by the door. 
    • Warmups, mini lessons, calendar updates, the group mind (heart) -- all valuable -- need you to be there, else others' time is wasted and we run late
  • Check your "in box" for new music, as you come in.
    • There's a hanging file numbered to match your black folder.
    • Sort music into your folder, alpha by title, or by performance date (if known). 
    • Dividers are helpful.
  • Number your measures (in pencil) whenever you get a moment, for rapid finding during. 
  • Large page numbers can help too. But partial pickup measures at the beginning don't get counted.
  • Take a moment to appreciate the poetry of the words. Feeling the meaning of the piece will animate your face and motivate the tempo and dynamic markings, maybe even the key changes.


  • Listen quickly and quietly. 
  • Raise your hand to speak.This is important when we are many and time is scarce (always).
  • Sit on the front edge of your chair, breathing with your abdomen, eyes forward, ears omnidirectional,
    head lifted as if suspended by a string.  The entire body is your instrument: cranium, sinuses, chest, belly all resonate and shape
    the sound.  Throat, jaw, eyes should be relaxed.  If it hurts, sing even more gently.  No injury is necessary.
  • When singing unfamiliar music, "Strong and Wrong" brings rapid assistance.  That's why we call it "playing" :) so don't be shy.


  • Drop off any no-longer-needed music.
  • Check the big calendar for upcoming performances or group activities. 
  • Mark your own calendar, pda, phone.
  • Chat quietly, leave quietly
  • Respectthe time and privacy of any groups that are still using the building, as well as that of choir members up past their bedtime.
  • And despite any or all rules, your thoughts and observations are valuable to the group. Say what needs saying.

For performances:


  • Have your music arranged in performance order before Sunday.
  • Arrive on time.  For regular Sundays, 8 am in the choir room.
  • When in doubt, wear black.
  • Pick up an order of service (to get an idea of when not to sing).


  •  No rude noises (phones, watches, clacking folder, slow wrappers, singing without looking).
  • No strong odors (cologne, you, shoes, food).
  • No rude gestures (sitting when the choir is standing, moving when the choir is still watching).
  • Have your finger on which piece we sing next.
  • Watch the conductor's eyes, before, during, and after the music.
    • He or she will stand you, sit you, gesture your folder open and closed, oh and conduct.
  • If you make or notice a mistake, smile and keep your eyes on the road ahead.


  • Receive compliments with grace.
  • Thank those who served.
  • Turn in music either after performing, or at the next practice.

For always, for your own sake, and for those who regard you:

The unfathomable mystery of the universe, the bubbling vigor of the planet, the ineffable depth of the human mind, the infinite wave of the human heart: all these and more are your birthright and your toolkit. You sing from them as you have perceived them, and you sing to them, as embodied in those who see and hear you. You are an instrument of joy, as well as joy's grateful recipient, O thou chalice wherein the sacrament of music is offered ... ahem.

You should still pay quiet attention when the conductor is addressing the choir.

Have fun!