Guidance Notes B – Dress and Etiquette
Concerns are sometimes expressed about choir turnout and behaviour. There have been occasions when our standards have been compared unfavourably with choirs with whom we were providing joint concerts. The committee therefore feels it necessary to guide members, especially new ones, as to the standards required.
The choir uniform will be as decided by the committee and members and will be subject to periodic variation. The Vice Chairman is responsible for issuing and retrieving items of uniform.
Each member will be issued with the following free-on-loan items of uniform:
Attention should be paid to ensuring that the blazer fits and is dry-cleaned when necessary. The top button should be kept fastened while on stage. No additional badges, medals, or other decorations may be worn on the uniform other than by the exceptional decision of the Chairman. These exceptions might be poppies for Remembrance Day concerts or a badge showing the emblem or logo of the charity for which the concert is being provided. These should be worn by all members or by none at all and should be worn on the left lapel.
Shirt and Tie
A short-sleeved white shirt, without logo, which should be worn at all concerts, with choir tie, which, for the sake of uniformity, should be tied in a Windsor knot. Care should be taken that any under-shirts are not visible. Jackets may be removed at any time of the year at the Chairman’s discretion and it is therefore important that only the approved items be worn under them. As an example, some venues are maintained at uncomfortably warm temperatures even when there is snow outside!
Comments are sometimes made about trousers being unpressed and baggy. They should be regularly pressed or taken to the dry-cleaners.
Items of uniform should not be worn other than at concerts or similar choir events.
In the event of shirts, trousers or ties needing to be replaced it will be at the member’s own expense. The Vice Chairman, who holds a stock of ties, will advise on this and on the purchase of spares.
Black, unpatterned shoes and socks must be worn. Shoes must be of a sober design and kept clean. These items must be provided by members themselves.
New members will be advised as to how to acquire their uniform once the induction procedure has been completed to the satisfaction of the Chairman and MD.
a. Getting on and off stage (GOGOS)
The position of members within the choir during concerts will be decided by the Musical Director (MD) using the attendance list provided by the Chairman and the magnetic board designed and constructed by B Norris.
The procedure for GOGOS will be decided by the Chairman and the Choir Marshal (CM). Thereafter, movement on and off stage is the responsibility of the CM alone.
b. On stage
There should be no talking while on stage, whether between songs or, more importantly, during joint concerts, while the other choir, or guest artiste, is performing.
Exceptionally, during long periods of sitting on stage waiting, for whatever reason, and to avoid looking uncomfortable and ridiculous, quiet exchanges, strictly between immediate neighbours, are acceptable. This does not include turning round to chat to the chap behind and attention must be switched back swiftly to the MD or CM when demanded.
Mouthing the words to a song that you happen to know while the other choir is singing is particularly discourteous. It almost implies, “Look, there’s nothing special in what this lot are doing. Everybody knows this one!” An exception to this occurs, of course, when the other choir invites us to join in.
Applause for the other choir is good. It makes us feel good when we receive appreciation from them as fellow choristers and we should return it. American/pop concert-style whooping should be avoided.
Mobile Phones should always be turned off before a concert. They should not be taken from the pocket and consulted at any time while the Choir, or visiting Choir, is onstage.
Sit however you feel most comfortable, but not “manspread” or with legs either outstretched or crossed. Hands together loosely in the lap is probably best. When photographs are being taken, the CM will advise on posture and position. No bottles of water on stage, please.
Fingers loosely curled by the side is much preferred to the genital-protecting variant. Watch the conductor while you are singing. We should rejoice in now being a choir that sings without copy and we should raise our heads, stick out our chests and enjoy it. Smiling is encouraged other than during solemn or some sacred songs.
Some of our colleagues have mobility problems. Their neighbours should establish what assistance they need and provide it.
Rehearsal commences at 7.15 every Monday and members should try to be there 5 minutes before that to allow it to start on time, including warm-up exercises.
Additionally, the MD/AMD run 15-minute section rehearsals at 7pm each week. Please make sure you are aware when it is your section’s turn. We do rehearse on Bank Holiday Mondays, Christmas/New Year apart. Not to do so would mean missing about 20% of Mondays in the year, which we cannot afford to do if we are to maintain standards.
Generally, members should remain silent when other sections are being rehearsed. It does seem unreasonable however to expect members enjoying their hobby, sitting with their friends whom they only see once a week, not to converse for a whole two hours. Please observe the same guidelines as for talking on stage during concerts. If the MD makes it clear that you are being disruptive, please fall silent immediately, and remain so. Or tone it down.
1.If you notice a prospective new member appearing, please make him welcome and bring his arrival to the attention of the Chairman.
2. If you wish to dispute a decision or statement made by a committee member, it would be courteous to give him, or your section rep, a ring/email to discuss rather than wait until rehearsal or AGM when you have an audience. It will also give him time to investigate your query rather than need to do so on the hoof!
3. Honorary Life Members
Retiring members of the Choir who have completed at least 20 years as a member, to include at least one year as a Committee member, or have provided exceptional service to the Choir in some other capacity, may be appointed Honorary Life Member, to be decided by a simple majority on a Committee vote.
As noted elsewhere, the honour should also be bestowed upon retiring Presidents, Musical Directors and Musical Accompanists.
Honorary Life Members will be awarded a certificate and badge to mark the occasion and will not be required to pay entrance fees at Choir concerts unless they wish do do so.