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Types of Choir to Join for Budding Choral Singers

by Martin Lewis
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Are you new to the choir scene and wondering what types of choir are out there for you to join? Or, maybe you’re already in a choir but are thinking about making the move to a different choir type? 

It’s likely that you’ll be most familiar with your church choir or school choir from back in the day. But, choir groups come in many different shapes, sizes and singing styles. So, whatever you’re into, you’re sure to find the right type of choir to suit your skills and interests. 

Choral group singing has been around in some form for centuries in a variety of cultures and the types of choir we’re used to were particularly prevalent in traditional societies. The art form can be traced all the way back to the Ancient Greeks, although there is strong evidence to suggest that the form of singing was present in even more ancient civilisations.

With such a rich tradition across the world, it’s easy to see why so many types of choir and variations of the traditional choir now exist for us to enjoy and participate in.

Read on for our breakdown of the variety of choir types that can be found, and what they’re all about. 

1. Church Choir

Most of us will be familiar with the traditional church choir. An institution in many different religious traditions, a passionate church choir can be the vibrant, beating heart of the congregation.

Church choirs themselves can come in several different forms. More commonly now, church choirs consist of a mix of both male and female voices, utilising different voice types and vocal ranges to achieve the ethereal sound that we most commonly associate with choral music.

However, more traditional Christian services will feature all-male groups with young male vocalists singing the alto and soprano sections.

Most local church groups will have a choir and are very welcoming of new members, however, if you have aspirations of joining a big cathedral choir, you should prepare yourself to audition as competition can be fierce.

Some of the best church choirs throughout the UK have an extremely high standard for entry with many only accepting professional singer.

2. Gospel Choir

Another type of choir that may interest you is the gospel choir. Gospel choirs are a little different from pretty much any classical choir you will have encountered before. Although not always the case, most gospel choirs are church choirs made up of members of the congregation, it largely depends on the congregation and the tone of the church.

Technically, a gospel choir is defined by the type of music that is sung rather than the style of singing. Over the years, gospel music has proved so popular that it has permeated the commercial marketplace, with singers such as James Brown and Whitney Houston popularising the music style.

This type of choir is most commonly associated with African-American and Black British congregations, the energy and passion expressed through gospel music has spread across the world and is especially popular in Christian African nations.

Generally featuring powerful lead vocals and strong use of harmonies, traditionally congregations would sing acapella and use clapping and foot stamping to create rhythm.

Far less reserved than your traditional choir and with some pretty snappy modern tunes, if you’re looking to inject some energy into your worship the gospel choir is where you need to be. 

3. Show Choir

Show choirs combine choral singing with carefully choreographed dances, often based on a story or particular theme.

As popularised by the American television show Glee, these types of choirs are most prevalent in high schools and middle schools, particularly in the American midwest.

The music tends to be more modern than a traditional choir, with popular hits and show tunes being the main focus. The choral arrangements are wide and varied and usually contain a mix of male and female members.

If your soul wants to sing but you’re not enamoured by classical music or hymns, then maybe a show choir is the right place to let your talent shine. 

4. Barbershop Choir

Barbershop singing is a unique form of choral arrangement characterised by the type of music sung and distinct performance style.

Also sometimes known as a Harmony group, these singers perform acapella and rely on a small number of strong voices performing complex harmonies and part singing.

For a good barbershop group you need at least one singer for each part, so they’ll usually consist of soprano, alto tenor and bass singers.

Most commonly known as a Barbershop quartet, this kind of choral singing has evolved over time and now all sorts of mixed and female barbershop groups can be found worldwide.

This type of choir singing requires a strong voice and a good appreciation of harmonies but if you have the right passion, energy and talent it can be very rewarding to achieve such a unique sound in a smaller group. 

5. Chamber choir

A chamber choir is usually a smaller group of up to around 20 experienced singers. Combining the deeper range of the strong male voices and higher female voices singing alto and soprano, Chamber choirs can sing with real power and sound larger than they really are.

The smaller nature of these types of choir actually makes them feel more intimate and the diversity in range and sound means performances are always kept interesting.

The singers tend to be more experienced and perform more complex music than most other types of choirs.

These groups are usually fairly friendly and close-knit, so remembering all the names in the group shouldn’t be too hard, but they can be competitive to get in to, so make sure you’ve prepared a good audition. 

Singing in a choir is a wonderful way to express yourself and be part of a close community. Whether it’s with your local church or forming an acapella group with friends, there are a huge variety of choir groups and choral arrangements to suit anyone, many more than we’ve managed to mention here.

We proudly provide choir robes for all types of choir all over the globe and celebrate their love for music and their individual expressions.

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