Why returning to your choir after a long absence need not be difficult

Listed on March 28, 2016 in Blogs!

Sometimes life intervenes and singers need to take a whole term off or even longer. It could be illness, bereavement, job demands or just that it’s good to have a break from time to time.


But when it’s time to return to choir there can be all sorts of psychological obstacles, and some singers never make it back. How can you avoid this?

I used to go jogging almost every day. I loved it. The hardest thing though was to go upstairs and get changed. Once I was out running it was fabulous. But getting up those stairs seemed impossible.

A similar thing can happen if you’ve not been to choir for a while. The hardest thing can actually be getting out the front door. But when you arrive it’s fabulous.

See also What motivates you to turn up to choir week after week?

Why might it be hard to go back?

have they forgotten me?

There are all sorts of reasons. Some of them are:

  1. I will be too far behind and won’t know the new songs
  2. people will have forgotten me
  3. there will be no place for me any more
  4. there will be lots of new people who won’t know me
  5. I might have forgotten how to sing
  6. I won’t remember any of the songs we’ve learnt
  7. my choir friends will have found new friends

Some of these worries are very similar to those encountered by people who are new to a choir (see Handy hints for hesitant singers – 10 tips for singers new to choirs and Joining an established choir: a guide for new singers).

They’re also the kind of things that might bother us when we’re going to a party or function where we won’t know many people.

But like my mother always says: “You’ll enjoy it once you get there.”

don’t worry, just sing!

It might not seem it now, but all these fears are pretty groundless.

  1. Yes, you might not know some of the newer songs, but you can always catch up.
  2. You’ll be surprised how many people will have missed you and will flock to you when you turn up to find out how you are.
  3. There will always be a place for you in choir. Somebody else might have taken that solo you used to sing, but the rest of the singers in your part will welcome you back with open arms because you know the old repertoire.
  4. Getting to know new singers always takes time. If you’re a regular choir member with lots of choir friends, you might be tempted not to bother getting to know the new singers. But if you’ve been absent for a while it’s a great opportunity to make a connection with them.
  5. As someone who loves singing, I bet you’ve sung around the house at the very least. You’ll probably have watched all those choir and voice programmes on TV. You’ll still be a big fan of singing and even if your voice is a bit rusty, it will soon come back to you.
  6. It’s funny how memory for songs works. You may not have sung a song for years and think you don’t know it, but as soon as the song starts you will find yourself in amazement as you watch your mouth form the words and you sing your part with ease.
  7. Choir friends are for life! Yes, some of your choir friends might have formed new friendships, but they will also be really happy to welcome you back into the fold.


just do it

There will be no perfect time to rejoin your choir. It will probably feel difficult whenever you decide to rejoin, especially if your absence has been a long one.

There isn’t really any shortcut other than just doing it: get ready and leave the house.

Here are a few things that might help you ease in:

  • contact your choir leader – share your worries and they will reassure you.
  • make a commitment – tell as many people as you can who are connected with the choir that you are re-joining. Once you’ve made your decision public, it’s harder to wiggle out.
  • phone a friend – contact a choir buddy and make arrangements to travel to choir together.
  • go to a choir concert – ease your way back in by watching a performance by your choir and chatting with the singers.

If you’ve been absent from choir for a while and are thinking of going back, do let us know how it went. If you’ve been in this situation in the past, let us know what helped you get over any hurdles when you returned to choir.

Chris Rowbury

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