Name tags, folders, music. checklists, room set-up, welcoming words. Problem-solving, communications, reassurance. And above all, a friendly face every week.
It can’t be easy to be a choir manager for the My Pop Choir groups, but Bettina Goodwin, Judie Thompson and Charlene Sam do it all with skill and enthusiasm.
“I love what I do, helping to give My Pop Choir members the best choir experience possible,” says Bettina, manager of the Burlington and Oakville choirs, whose enthusiasm is shared by her fellow managers, Judie (Lawrence Park) and Charlene (Etobicoke and Richmond Hill/Thornhill).
Managing a group of up to 30-60 choir members is not an easy task, but the necessary commitment and attention to detail that all three put into action every week come from the same motivation.
“It’s such a joyous thing to do,” says Judie. “Choir brings so much joy to people.”
Charlene agrees: “After a session, you can tell when they have that buzz and they’re excited. It makes me happy that I helped make that happen.”
Of course, the choir manager job has its challenges as well.
“The first night is really crazy,” says Charlene. Checking off names, handing out name tags and folders, being sure to speak to the newcomers, as well as any pop-ins, are just some of the tasks to be dealt with, as the excitement of a new term takes off.
Bettina sums up the multi-faceted choir manager job: “I’m a mother hen. I’m a fact keeper, and I am a bit of a techie.”
“And there are always questions and the need to reassure some of the newbies,” adds Charlene.
Before each term begins, the managers download all the member information and set up tracking and check-in lists. They send personal e-mails to all the new members, welcoming them to the choir. They let them know that their choir manager is the go-to person to contact if they have any questions or concerns.
“I often hear back that they are nervous because they’ve never done anything like this before,” says Bettina, “So I write back and ease their mind. Tell them there’s always someone new and that it’s a great group of people and you’re going to love it.”
After the first few weeks, when the lists and check-in routines are established and a lot of the questions have been answered, things get back down to a comfortable level, according to Judie. “Then I can focus on looking after people, which is the fun part.”
All the choir managers send out weekly e-mails to keep in touch and advise members of any news. They also keep tabs on any who are away a lot and check in to see if everything is OK, in case there might be concerns they can help with.
All three copy each other with their weekly e-mails and they usually get together on Zoom before each term begins to discuss what they’re doing and anything they might be trying out that they think might help the other choir managers.
“We’re all very collegial,” says Judie.
And they know they have terrific support from choir owner Alex Fiddes, as well as their individual choir directors.
“Alex is a terrific boss,” Judie points out. “He is so well organized and thinks of everything. He loves what he does and it shows. He’s always looking to make My Pop Choir better and greater and more fun for people.”
While 90% of managing a choir occurs behind the scenes, it seems that members are aware of the work involved and are very appreciative.
“At the end of the term people write and say thank you very much and they’re looking forward to next time,” Judie comments.
Charlene agrees: “People will say they appreciate my work – and even my sense of humour!”
Her hard work and enthusiasm bring thanks for Bettina too, and, just like her fellow choir managers, what keeps her going is one thing: “I really love it.”