How to Become a Choral Director

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Choirs and choruses are essential types of musical performances that enable a variety of performers to display their singing abilities. Choral directors are trained professionals that lead a variety of choirs, glee clubs, and other singing ensembles.


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What does a choral director do?

Choral directors often direct and lead vocal ensembles in schools, churches, and other performance groups. They are responsible for holding auditions to choose singers and make sure they attend rehearsals. They provide direction to achieve the desired rhythm, harmony, shading, tempo, and other musical effects. Choral directors carefully select the musical pieces and ensure everything is in order such as the formation on stage. They provide firm and positive feedback to performers and engage singers in warm-ups during rehearsals and before performances. Choral directors sometimes work with orchestra conductors and bands.

What kind of training does a choral director need?

Choral directors typically need at least a high school diploma and related experience. Some choral directors have a bachelor degree in music, music education, or other related field. Many colleges and universities offer a variety of programs in music related fields. Prospective choral directors typically complete courses in music theory, composition, voice performance, and musical direction. Many choral directors gain practical experience by participating in a chorus or other musical ensemble. They often start their careers as assistants and move up to director positions as they complete advanced training and gain extensive experience. Choral directors must complete additional training and continuing education throughout their careers to keep their skills up to date and stay abreast with advancements in the field.

What are the prospects for a career as a choral director?

Employment of choral directors is expected to grow as fast as average for all professions, increasing 10% from 2008 to 2018 (1).

Job prospects are expected to be good with strong competition. Choral directors with advanced training and extensive experience will have the best job opportunities. Numerous job openings will arise from the need to replace choral directors that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do choral directors make?

As of January 2010, the average annual salary for choral directors is $47,000; average annual choral director salaries vary greatly on location, industry, employer, education, experience, and benefits (2).

A career as a choral director is an excellent choice for individuals with a strong passion for music and directing a variety of voice ensembles. Choral directors must have a solid understanding of vocal elements and have the ability to lead a wide range of vocal performers. They must also be familiar with a variety of musical styles. Patience, determination, creativity, assertiveness, good listening, and good leadership skills are essential. Choral directors must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills to be able to direct and motivate many different performers. They must have an appreciation for differences and be able to create original sound using the characteristics of their groups.

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