I belong to a choir and every member of the choir is really dedicated to not only the choir as a whole, but to supporting each other in the same way as a family would. If anyone needs anything they only have to ask and someone will jump in and offer help.
Members have given away tickets to gigs, furniture, baby equipment and loaned wheelchairs, kitchen appliances and offered lifts, time and love in the three and a bit years since the choir was formed.
There are more than 80 people in our choir and we’re just one of 16 choirs run by our choir leader, Andy, who is also owner of the choir brand. Why is our community so strong, especially when we hear from members who have migrated to us from other choirs that this is not the norm? It’s down to the choir values.
When Andy set up the first four choirs in January 2020, his aim was to raise £1 million for charity. Not just one charity, but to help many charities. As COVID hit in March 2020, he was in the unenviable position of having a new business, a wife, two little boys and another on the way – and his income had just been put on a knife edge.
As a professional musician, other gigs were no longer available. Instead of crumbling he immediately moved over to delivering our weekly 90 minute choir sessions virtually. Obviously, there were limitations as he couldn’t hear us and we couldn’t hear each other, but he continued to teach us and, instead of stopping for Easter he kept the weekly sessions going for months. In fact, even when his third son made an appearance in May 2020 he only paused for two weeks – and even arranged for a temporary choir leader to take over.
Andy knew that many of us were isolated and struggling with lockdown and felt that the weekly choir practice, held using Facebook live stream, was a lifeline. It was an opportunity for the community to continue and we used the chat to communicate with each other during choir practice.
How effective was teaching people who couldn’t hear each other – Andy was innovative and asked us to sing our parts into our mobile phones for one of the songs we learned and upload them to him via WhatsApp. Judge for yourself how good a teacher he is. This was our first virtual gig and raised over £30,000 for the NHS Appeal.
It went viral – and international – appearing on BBC1, local radio and also on Spanish and US broadcast media.
Since then we’ve done virtual gigs for the Poppy Appeal, Comic Relief (three years in a row), and live gigs supporting The Samaritans, Alzheimers, Brain Tumour charity and many other local charities. Currently the total raised for charity has just tipped over that first £100,000.
We’ve sung in fields, our local cathedral and the high street in local towns where each choir is based. We’ve made a single and most recently 600 of us gathered in a theatre and learned a song in an evening to raise funds for the Brain Tumour Charity.
What has this to do with business?
It’s all about values. Andy had a vision and his values of helping others runs through everything his business does, whether it’s supporting charities, supporting members or supporting local communities. Those values permeate the choir – and the other choir leaders who have joined, with currently 16 choirs running weekly.
Does Andy earn a living from it? Yes, of course, what kind of businessman would he be if he didn’t. However, the enormous success of the choir is due to what he delivers and the values that underpin it. His customers (the choir members) get massive value from being a part of it and its reputation is 5 star.
It’s inspiring – and gives every member a huge dose of dopamine (the happy hormone) at every choir practice. What could your business take from this?