Members’ Handbook

South Chiltern Choral Society

Members’ Handbook

September 2016

Joining the Choir

Your first three rehearsals are free of charge. After your simple audition, or voice placement review, with our Musical Director Paul Burke, he will allocate you to the appropriate section. This may not be the same as the section you have been sitting in for the first three weeks.

Then we need your membership details form. We will keep it carefully. We also need your photo for our website  We reserve the right to use photos of you on our website and in our publicity and marketing material. Once you have completed and returned the form we understand that to mean you agree with our membership conditions (broadly the contents of this Handbook) and you will comply with the various agreements we have about the way the choir is run.


Our Musical Director generally selects our repertoire. We usually provide music on loan to choir members, at no extra charge, though very occasionally we will ask you to contribute to the costs. Please take care of the music, and just like a public library, be sure to return it promptly when asked to do so to avoid overdue fines or charges for mislaid music.

To help you, we ask you to bring a soft pencil to mark the music. We encourage you to practice reading and singing the music at home in between rehearsals. We publish links to rehearsal aids on our website.


There are usually at least 30 each year, during term time, at Chiltern Edge School, Sonning Common. In these rehearsals we prepare for 3 or 4 concerts each year. We encourage everyone to sing at every concert and also to sell as many tickets for these concerts as possible. You must attend at least 75% of rehearsals in the term before a concert, in addition to the final afternoon rehearsal, in order to sing. There is some flexibility for this condition to be relaxed subject to the agreement of your Section Leader, the Choir Chair and the Musical Director together. Please let your Section Leader know if you are going to miss a rehearsal, if you can. If you are absent for more than half a term, without good reason, you may have to reapply for membership should you wish to return to the choir.

Rehearsals are from 7.30pm – 9.40pm, and are busy and focused. We ask all choir members to concentrate and sing their best! There is a break from about 8.30pm for catching-up and chatting. Your Section Leader may tell you where to sit during rehearsals and for concerts.

Your Section Leader is your link with the choir and the choir committee. If you have any questions, please speak to your section leader; they are there to help you.


We use several different venues for our concerts, each one presenting different advantages and challenges. There are usually two Christmas concerts (a Saturday evening and a Sunday afternoon), one Spring and one Summer concert. Stage Managers are appointed for each and they look for help from choir members in making sure the venue is ready for our performance. This can include assembling staging before a concert and taking it down afterwards, lining up seating, and moving equipment.

Choir members provide significant help in running the choir for example, providing artwork, updating the website, H&S, providing flower arrangements and many other ways! If you want to be part of the running of the choir, don’t be bashful! There are plenty of opportunities to get involved.

Concert dress is usually all black for ladies; tops with shoulders covered, long skirts or trousers, and shoes (no naked toes – pop socks are fine!), and for men; dinner jackets or black jackets and trousers, with a white shirt and black bow tie. Often, the choir will provide the ladies with coloured scarves. We tell you well in advance what the Committee has chosen and we look to you to observe the dress code so the choir looks appropriate for the event, and professional.

We love having a full audience so please use the publicity materials that are distributed – posters, flyers, email attachments, etc – to do your share of achieving that full audience.

Our Charitable status

As a registered charity, our aims are agreed with the Charity Commission and are about more than having a good time – though we do that too. We aim to provide public benefit. We do this by putting on at least three concerts each year, exploring a very wide range of music. We give discounted, or free, tickets to our concerts to young people, and we welcome young people to sing with us in the choir, again at no cost. We sing for charitable causes for no charge. Recent examples include singing at Reading Station for Launchpad and at Sue Ryder, Nettlebed, for residents. We have made grants to local groups with special needs to encourage singing.

Our own finances are robust but we need to produce enough income each year to enable us to do everything we want to do. So we often engage in additional fundraising activities for that reason. Although we welcome everyone’s involvement in that, there is no obligation to do so.

The Small Print

Our non-refundable fees are currently £100 per annum, due in September; there is a discount for over 65s who may choose to pay £80 per annum. We encourage you to make your payments online, if you can. Use your name, section e.g. A1, and purpose, as reference. Our bank details are:

Account Name: SCCS

Sort Code: 20-71-03

Account Number: 63984907

If you are not able to make online payments, then please make your cheque payable to South Chiltern Choral Society, write your name, section (e.g. Sop2), and the reason for the cheque (e.g. subs) on the back, and give it to your section leader. If you join SCCS after the Christmas concert, then your initial pro-rata fees are £70, and £35 if you join after the Spring concert.

We encourage tax-paying members to complete a Gift Aid declaration, which will help us to maximize our income. There is a fund available to assist anyone in financial difficulties – please ask the Treasurer for details.

We need you to keep our information about you up to date, so if you move, change your landline or mobile number, or your email address, please tell us as soon as possible. We will email you regularly and we need to know the email has arrived safely. Our regular emails, our website, and the notices given during rehearsals should ensure you know what is going on.

We distribute our Membership List to choir members on a regular basis, as we have found it helpful to be able to contact each other easily. Information from your Membership Details form will be added to the list.

Our formal Constitution is based on the model recommended by Making Music in conjunction with the Charity Commission. It sets out the arrangements for the election of the Trustees of the Choir. We currently have eight Trustees in Office; Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, Membership Secretary, Librarian, Publicity Officer, Social Secretary and Concert Manager. An Officer is limited to a maximum number of four fixed terms of three years. These Officers make up the committee, who meet once a term or more. We have a separate Social Committee headed by the Social Secretary.

We also have an Advisory Council, appointed by the Committee, consisting of three former choir Chairs. Their role is ensure the long-term interests of the choir are considered, and to provide advice for the present Chair, or any Officers of the committee, in challenging situations. For example, this group designed and led the recent appointment of our new Musical Director.

Please take care of your belongings. The choir takes no responsibility whatsoever for any loss, theft or damage to any choir members’ belongings or that of their friends, family or guests, in any buildings or car parking areas used by the choir for rehearsals, concerts or formal meetings.

This Handbook forms the rules of the choir, alongside the Constitution and any formal policies adopted by the committee. Subjects of such policies will include Safeguarding and Health and Safety. The committee may make changes to this Handbook. You will receive notification of any changes and the latest version of the Handbook will always be available on our website.

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