Frequently Asked Questions
If your question isn't answered below, please call Huw Jenkins (07855 311192) or Caroline Franks (01920 822723)
- Joining The Choir
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Joining The Choir
Are there auditions, do I need to read music?
There are no auditions to join the choir, but we do expect people to be able to sing the same notes as the person next to them! You will never be asked to sing on your own. The ability to read music helps a lot, but is not essential. We welcome singers of all ages from 16/17 upwards and, like most choirs, we are always on the look out for more men!
The main aim of singing in the choir is having fun by doing your best. Most people find that the learning experience adds to the enjoyment, even when it's hard work. Some people really struggle, don't enjoy the singing, and a few decide it's not for them. However, we do encourage newcomers who are unsure about whether to stay or not to come along to at least 3 rehearsals to give yourself a chance.
What is an 'Open Rehearsal'?
This is your chance to 'have a go' and it's the time most new people join the choir. They happen in Autumn, Spring and Summer. While we hope most people will come back, there's no pressure to do so. If you decide to leave the choir at any time, please return all borrowed music straight away.
Can I join the choir if I haven't been to the Open Rehearsal?
Yes. The Open Rehearsals are usually the second rehearsal of each term (we tend to follow school term dates). If you know a little about music, but can't make it to the Open Rehearsal you can join at a rehearsal soon after that one.
Will it cost anything to sing with the choir?
The rate we’ve settled on for 2021/22 is £125 for the year, or £50 for the first two terms of attendance, and £40 for the third (in other words, if you’re with us all year, £50, £50 and £40; otherwise £50 per term). As a matter of interest, the full subscription works out at about £3.50 per rehearsal – a bargain, one might say!
We ask you to pay the relevant fee to our Treasurer (cheques payable to 'Royston Choral Society' please) by the fourth rehearsal.
As a registered charity, we also invite tax-paying singers to make the payment under the Gift Aid Scheme. This increases the income for the choir at no extra cost to you!
What does the membership fee pay for?
Our rehearsal venues all charge a hiring fee and we pay Andrew O'Brien, our Musical Director and Michael Smith, our accompanist and Deputy Musical Director. Add to that the cost of putting on a concert - hiring the church and staging, producing publicity materials etc and you'll see how the costs mount up. When we sing with an orchestra that is also a massive additional expense. By combining members' subscriptions, with ticket sales, small grants and a couple of fundraising activities, we just about manage to 'balance the books' each year.
What about the cost of music?
We hire copies of the music for each concert and this cost is covered by members' subscriptions. However, we do ask all choir members to provide a deposit cheque equal to the purchase price of the music we use that particular term. We have to pay for replacement copies of any music not returned on time, so your cheque is only cashed if music you borrow is not returned immediately after the concert. If you prefer to purchase copies of some of the music, Caroline Franks will make a bulk order. However, you are not obliged to buy any music if you don't want to.
When and where are rehearsals held?
Most rehearsals are currently held in Bassingbourn Village College. Rehearsals are 7.45 - 9.30pm every Tuesday during term time. We largely follow school terms, and this includes breaks from rehearsals at half term and in school holidays. We very much look forward to returning to rehearse in Royston Parish Church in Melbourn Street, Royston (next to Priory Gardens) when the church reopens after the restoration work.
What is the register?
Our part-reps bring a register to rehearsals each week and we ask each singer to mark their attendance in it. The register also gives precise dates for the rehearsals during that term. If you know in advance that you will be missing a particular rehearsal, we ask you to put 'A' (for absent) in the relevant column. There is also a column for you to show if you are planning to sing in the concert itself.
What if I have to miss one or two rehearsals?
We all know that practice is key to improvement and we ask that our singers commit to attending rehearsals whenever they can. We understand that some of our members work away sometimes, and some have other commitments that make attendance difficult from time to time. However, wherever possible, we ask you to give rehearsals priority as you plan your week.
We ask everyone to make every effort to attend rehearsals as the success of our concert performances depends on a team effort. Everyone should attend a minimum of six rehearsals. If you know you are going to be absent for a few weeks, please let your Part Representative (see 'who's who') know you haven't gone for good!
How often are they?
We usually perform 4 concerts a year. Musically speaking, the summer concert is lighter than those in Autumn and Spring. There are also invitations to sing in other choirs from time to time, for example at Christmas time, and at the occasional wedding.
There is sometimes an extra rehearsal on the evening before a concert.
How are they publicised?
We aim to get coverage in the local press and in community magazines in Royston and surrounding villages. We also put up posters around town - in shops, the library etc - and distribute publicity through other local organisations. We have a website www.roystonchoralsoc.org.uk and we do a bit of paid advertising.
Our publicity budget is limited so we ask choir members to help. This might include hand delivering publicity leaflets to friends, family and neighbours, leafleting houses in your street or handing out leaflets in the High Street the week before a concert. At each concert, a large number of those attending say they have heard about it through choir members, so we know the personal contact works!
What happens on the day of the concert?
Some choir members volunteer to help get the staging up in the church around mid-day. We usually have a final rehearsal on the afternoon of the concert. The final rehearsal is vital because it is the first time we sing with the orchestra (when we perform with one). We meet back at the church at 7.10pm, with the concert starting at 7.30pm.
We very much welcome volunteer help (friends and family?) on the night at the concerts. Jobs include taking tickets, handing out programmes, selling wine before the start and in the interval. Help with taking down the staging at the end is also appreciated.
What do we wear?
Dress code tends to be dinner jackets for the men and all black, long sleeved tops and long length either trousers or skirts for the ladies. Sometimes that is varied for our lighter concerts. Charity shops in Cambridge are good for the men with jacket and trousers for less than £20!