Try implementing some or all of these ideas:
· Remove all conflict with sport – arrange practices at times when boys will never have to decide between your choir and a sporting activity.
· Involve older boys who are perceived by younger boys as role models. Get the choir to perform to the younger ones so that they aspire to be involved.
· Being in the choir should confer extra status on the boys – have special ties or button badges for them to wear.
· Don’t just practice for the sake of practice. Rehearse for specific events (which don’t have to be concerts). Get the choir to perform single pieces at school assemblies or out-of-doors events, for example. Think of unusual performance opportunities.
· Don’t spend ages taking the register and making announcements – they are there to sing! However, having a register (swiftly taken) establishes that you mean business and that you are in charge.
· Begin rehearsals with fun warm-ups to get the boys singing as soon as possible, before getting into harder work.
· Work on more than one piece and use varied repertoire. Consider the subject of the lyrics carefully: is it the kind of thing boys are interested in or would like to be seen singing about? Have any of the boys made up songs you could use?
· When you rehearse (and this goes for any instrument too, of course) concentrate on the tricky bits and find ways of making them easy. Slow the music right down, if necessary, and use repetition (boys quite enjoy repeating things over and over again, strangely enough). Substitute silly sounds for the words.
· But you have to strike a balance between hard work and the enjoyment of singing together – leave time to sing through things that you do well.
· Get the boys to learn everything by heart – singing is at its best when performers aren’t buried in their copies, but are looking up and singing to the audience. Youngsters don’t have trouble learning words, tunes and actions.
· Incorporate funny actions and manly dance routines into your performances. That will make it more memorable and fun to watch and to do; it will help in recruitment too.
· Achieve excellence, but don’t be too serious: make lots of jokes and ensure that the whole process is fun!
· Give the boys trophies at the end-of-year award ceremony. Take them on an outing or give them a party now and again.