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What does a Choral Director do?

By Cassie L. Damewood
Updated May 17, 2024
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A choral director leads and conducts vocal musical groups such as choirs or choruses. She customarily chooses the music to be performed with the help of a music librarian or works with composers to write original scores. A person with this job is normally employed by a high school, college or religious group that regularly incorporates vocal music into rituals or ceremonies.

In addition to leading and directing the vocal performers in singing, a person with this job typically provides input and suggestions to enhance the group’s performance. She frequently incorporates gestures to add dramatic or comedic flair to a musical piece. If the tempo, pitch or tone of a piece requires adjustment, the choral director generally initiates the change.

If an instrumental music department is active at her place of employment, a choral director frequently works in conjunction with that director to create musical productions. The two groups usually make individual contributions to the event as well as collaborate on a number of songs. The talents and contributions of members of both musical groups often overlap.

Organizing regularly scheduled concerts and musical theater productions is customarily the main job of a choral director. If the music is written by a local composer, she typically meets with the artist to discuss interpretations of their work and how they would work best for her vocalists. She may also research previously produced musicals to get ideas for ways to alter their interpretation to make her production unique.

Certain choral groups may include touring in their performance schedules. The choral director is usually the person who arranges the dates, lodging and transportation for these excursions. She is also commonly the one who inspects the venue for aesthetic and technical compliance prior to the performance of the choral group.

Besides leading her group in musical projects, a choral director is commonly in charge of the fiscal activities of the choir or chorus. She normally develops the annual budget, negotiates contracts for events and performances and submits grant applications to obtain funding from third party resources. The production of flyers and programs for performances is typically the responsibility of a director in this position as well.

For non-profit organizations, the choral director is generally expected to develop and implement fundraising events to support the activities of the choir. These events normally range from neighborhood bake sales to planning musical productions for large civic affairs. She is frequently the liaison between her organization’s vocal musical department and local community leaders.

To be a choral director frequently requires the job applicant to have a master’s degree in music or music composition. Some employers may consider a bachelor’s degree in music adequate education for the position if it is combined with extensive experience in the profession. The ability to inspire and lead vocalists is generally considered an asset for choral directing positions.

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