Hacking Choir Recruitment and Retention
In this episode of Technique Tuesday, choral director Patrick Freer tells Choir Nation how to handle both positive and negative peer pressure in regards to recruiting and retaining young men for your choral program.
Patrick notes that he begins by telling prospective male singers that he understands the problems of peer pressure. He addresses it head on and asks:
What is it about choir that you would like to experience that you’re not experiencing if you follow the advice of your peers and don’t join? Once he receives an answer he grabs the opportunity, first determining if there’s another way he can address that desire or need? (i.e. private voice lessons at school, etc.) He suggests you take this intervening time to gain trust and rapport and then address moving forward to the next step, which is perhaps joining choir.
Patrick notes that negative peer pressure is, thankfully, not as prevalent these days. Sometimes the inverse is true – boys want to join to be with friends but their parents are opposed or they have academic issues holding them back from joining more activities. These can often be harder to address because the young man in question finds those reasons to be embarrassing. Patrick adds that he goes after “peer groups” to recruit males to his choirs rather than just individuals. The number one reason boys join choir is to be with their friends, so it’s wise to seek out groups when recruiting begins, especially in the transition from 8th to 9th grade.