For leaders of a singing group, choosing choir names can be a difficult and daunting task, whether that group is new or established.
Your name is often the first taste people get of your choir’s purpose and personality. It is a statement of who you are as a singing group and an indication of what people can expect from your performances. No wonder then, that people’s nerves often set in when they start overthinking about choir names.
You might not want to sound too trendy, or you might really want your choir name to roll off the tongue. It might be that you want the choir name to be memorable, but not too crazy; just unique enough to stand out.
If all these considerations have got you overwhelmed, just take a moment and, as you would prepare to sing a note fortissimo, breathe!
While there’s a lot to think about, we recommend trying not to go for the overused, generic option of heading straight for the first automatic vocal name generator you find on Google.
Using a name generator can be good for inspiration, but those names can often lack personality and take the fun and passion out of the entire process of choosing choir names.
Remember, your choir’s name must embody your choir’s spirit. So if it’s appropriate, get the members of your choir involved!
Read on for our guide to how to choose choir names for your vocal group and some tips and tricks for picking choir names.
Back to Choir Name Basics
When you first choose a name for your choir, you’ll need to decide whether you want to make it descriptive or non-descriptive. Making this choice early on works to focus your naming efforts and help steer the process of deciding on choir names.
Descriptive Choir Names
Descriptive choir names are those that are accurate and clearly describe what your choir does or where it is based. They can be seen as quite functional and simple.
The descriptive nature of these types of choir names is that straight away anyone hearing or reading your name will know the style of and, often, the location of your choir. This leaves little room for confusion or doubt and means that audiences know what they’re in store for when they watch your choir perform.
Advantages of these sorts of choir names include showing a sense of pride of place, especially if you are from a well-known city like Cambridge. Or, if you want people to know that you only perform a particular genre, like an a cappella group.
Some Examples of descriptive choir names are:
- Cambridge University Symphony Chorus
- Bristol A Cappella
- Jazz Choir Scotland
- Camden Voices
As simple as descriptive names might be for your choir, there are a variety of different ways you can express your choir’s message. From having the location at the start, leading with your singing style or including other descriptive factors for example if you are a signing choir or the Military Wives Choir.
Have a go at phrasing your choir in as many ways as possible and circle the ones you like. And, if you’re struggling to make the decision yourself, why not create a shortlist of options and ask the members of your choir to vote for their favourite option for your new choir name.
Non-Descriptive Choir Names
Another route for naming your choir can come from choosing non-descriptive choir names.
These names are not so obvious and straightforward, however, they do make up the majority of choir names chosen. This is likely due to the creative freedom and wanting a memorable or catchy name that will stick in the minds of your audience.
When choosing choir names such as these, it’s important to make sure ‘outsiders’ will understand that your name is actually a choir. In other words, make sure people who aren’t connected to your choir, such as audience members, can understand the context of your name and what it is your singing group does.
If this is the route you want to use for your choir, an idea would be to brainstorm around each of the following three categories.
Suggestive Choir Names
These types of choir names are those which evoke or suggest a characteristic of your choir. You can draw on the power of metaphor and analogy to create positive associations about your choir in the minds of your audience.
These names are a little tougher to create but if you make sure your listeners understand the context surrounding your choir’s name, you are onto a winner.
A great example was put together by Nadine Cooper, who heads up the Tuneless Choir. Nadine put together the choir after years of being told she could not sing, and the result is a musical experience quite unlike any other.
When people hear the name Tuneless Choir, they instantly know what they’re in for, it’s a memorable and unusual name but still indicative of the type of choir you are.
Arbitrary Choir Names
These names are ‘real’ words found in the dictionary used out of context. Similarly to suggestive choir names, they may require more storytelling to make sense to ‘outsiders’.
There are pros and cons of choosing arbitrary choir names, some examples of these types of choir names look odd and could be a name for anything out of context meaning people may not realise what your choir is about. However, a positive of these kinds of names is that they are often memorable and unique.
When a story is added to these types of choir names, they make sense. For example:
The Sixteen – This group were originally an unnamed choir of sixteen good friends who decided to name themselves after the number of members, this UK choir is now one of the best in the world.
Polyphony – this literally means ‘the style of simultaneously combining a number of parts, each forming an individual melody and harmonizing with each other’. Once you know the meaning of the word, this name makes perfect sense for a choir!
Les Arts Florissants – French for ‘The Arts Flourishing’, this is an acclaimed and worldwide early music group.
Fanciful Choir Names
This method is a favourite among barbershop quartets and a capella groups, fanciful choir names are made of invented words or phrases put together that could have no inherent meaning other than the one assigned to them by the choir.
While it can seem challenging to completely make up a new word, there are simple ways to form a fanciful choir name for your singing group.
Combining two existing words is a popular way to create fanciful choir names, you can see some examples of this clever wordplay below:
There are a few options you can take with the non-descriptive route however, it’s not unusual to combine the two methods.
If you’re struggling to think up a name, why not have a brainstorming session with a few members of your choir and see what you come up with?
Give your Choir Names a Test
Once you have a list of your top three or so it’s time to test it on the public. It’s important to see how both singers and non-singers alike react.
It’s also important that you check to see if your chosen choir name is already taken. Depending on the scale of your choir and your performance ambitions this will be of varying degrees of importance.
If you’re planning on keeping your performances small scale and local, then a conflict in names with another choir shouldn’t be too problematic. However, if you are planning on releasing music and entering the professional arena, then you need to be sure you’re not infringing on anyone’s copyrighted name.
Do people get your chosen choir name?
It’s crucial not to assume everyone will know the story or connotations of your choir’s name straight off the bat. Run your main choices by a range of different people and see what they think.
How does the name resonate with them and does it reflect your original thoughts?
Is the name available?
After this stage, there are other practical considerations before you go ahead before the final decision.
For example, is there already a choir with the same name? There are lots of Global Harmonies out there for instance. And, does that matter? They might be at the other end of the country.
Have you checked if a suitable website domain name is available?
As mentioned before, these decisions are based on your choir and vocal groups own goals and objectives. If you are looking to be a professional choir, then this final stage needs a lot of attention.
On the other hand, if your name is for a temporary summer school children’s choir, the importance of this final stage reduces.
How to Finally Choose A Name for your Choir
Avoid using a generator! Discuss what type of name you think most suits your choir brand.
Top Tip: Use your singers to help you with this by running a competition for your singers, whoever wins gets a prize of your choice.
- Get everyone to suggest a name each, use this article to help with brainstorming
- Have them all write them down (or email you) and post into an ideas box/kitty.
- Email or pin-up all the names for everyone to see
- Give everyone three votes and get them to vote for their favourite 3
- The top three with the most votes get voted on again
- The majority wins!
- The choir member whose name it was, gets the prize.
This can be a fun and inclusive way to involve the entire choir in choosing choir names.
It will allow for full, open conversations and discussions among the members about why people like or dislike certain types of names.
It can be a somewhat tedious process, but everybody gets really invested and it helps build group cohesion with every member feeling represented and respected.
Hopefully, these guidelines provide a more genuine and creative way for choir leaders and vocal group leaders to think up unique and personality-filled choir names without using a generic quick name generator.
If you are also on the lookout for a set of choir robes, check out our colourful range. We also offer a bespoke service to personalise your robes with a name to remember.