Frequently Asked Questions
We are a group of music lovers who get together on Sunday evenings to sing Jewish music which is usually in an SATB format. We are 20- somethings through octogenarians who come from several towns in Central Massachusetts, Jewish and non-Jewish, affiliated and non-affiliated and have a wide variety of musical experiences. We love opportunities to sing together, socialize, and perform in various venues.
Do I need to be Jewish to participate?
No, SJCM is open to people of all faiths and backgrounds who are interested in learning a rich repertoire of Jewish music from around the world.
When and where do we rehearse?
Weekly rehearsals are held at Congregation B'nai Shalom, 117 East Main Street (Route 30), Westborough on Sunday evenings from 7-9:15 p.m. We start our season in the fall, usually late September / mid October, through the second week of June.
How do I join?
Simply contact us via email (ShirJoyMA@gmail.com)! We will guide you through the rest.
Are there any costs for joining?
Yes, there are annual dues, currently set at $85. These dues only cover a fraction of the expenses of the organization. We also rely on grants, concert ticket sales, and other income, to pay the salary of our director and accompanist, and the cost of all music purchased.
Do I have to audition to be a member?
No, however, you do need to have a short meeting with the Director in order for the Director to ascertain which section of the choir is most appropriate based on vocal range and sound. The Director may change your placement in the chorus as needed.
Do I need to read music?
No, it is not necessary, although helpful.
How can I practice if I don’t read music and/or play piano?
Recordings are available through links in the Member only section of our website. At the beginning of the year, new members are invited to join this site. You are then able to listen to your part on any MP3 player, computer, smartphone or other hand-held device that has access to the internet. As you listen to your part, you should then practice singing with the recording.
Will I be bored if I read music well and am more advanced than other chorus members?
A Chamber Group is available for those who would like more of a challenge and are willing to commit to extra rehearsals. The Chamber Group meets approximately every other week prior to the regular rehearsal on Sundays, starting at 6:15 PM. All Chamber Group members must also participate in the larger un-auditioned chorus.
Chamber Group members are expected to be able to do most or all of the following:
Sing on pitch
Pick up music quickly with only a few rehearsals
Go “off book” (memorize)
Attend rehearsals prior to regular rehearsals
Practice at home
If you are interested in joining the Chamber Group, please see the Director.
Additionally, members with stronger musicianship skills are asked to mentor less-experienced choristers and/or be Section Leaders.
Do I need to be affiliated with a synagogue to join?
No affiliation with any religious organization is required. Shir Joy is an independent organization.
Do I need to be able to read Hebrew?
No. While the chorus sings in a variety of languages including Hebrew, Yiddish, and Ladino, all music with text using the Hebrew alphabet has been transliterated using the Roman alphabet and thus easily read by English-speaking chorus members. The chorus has several fluent Hebrew speakers who help members learn accurate pronunciation.
What kinds of music does the chorus sing?
A rich variety of musical styles are studied, from very old music from the 16th century to contemporary music. We sing rounds, part songs (SATB), some a cappella (unaccompanied), some with piano or other instruments, using a variety of languages such as English, Hebrew, Yiddish, and Ladino, in many different tonalities and scale systems. We do classical-type pieces, folk-song settings, Klezmer-sounding pieces, and contemporary and popular pieces. Both secular and sacred music is sung. There are opportunities for people to sing solos, sing in small ensembles, play an instrument and even perform an Israeli folk dance or two!
What are the attendance expectations?
Regular attendance at rehearsals is important for all members to grow in our musical skills and as a community. Although it is ideal for all members to attend all rehearsals, we recognize that other responsibilities may, at times, prevent us from being at some rehearsals. We recognize the value of being in a chorus and, if life circumstances do not permit regular attendance, members may still participate in rehearsals when they are able. However, the member and the Director must discuss performance readiness and come to a mutually agreed upon decision as to whether the member can perform in a particular concert.
Music is much more than a combination of notes and words. We focus on breathing, dynamics, and how our voices blend together to create harmony and balance. We learn how to interpret phrases and how to best express their meaning. In addition to improving our voices, we build community and joy in singing. We depend on everyone’s presence to grow together and mutually support each other. If you are unable to attend a rehearsal, please notify your Section Leader in advance to explain the reason you will be absent. We worry about each other! Members who feel they are too ill to sing but able to get out and around should plan to attend rehearsals as active observers. Members who miss a rehearsal are responsible for the material covered. Prior to the next rehearsal, it is expected that you will be in contact with your Section Leader by email or phone to find out what was learned in rehearsal.
How do members communicate with the music director and board members?
At the beginning of each year, we provide contact information of all staff, board, and members. The general email account for the chorus is ShirJoyMA@gmail.com and it is checked frequently. We also post to our Shir Joy website and Facebook page.
What is the organizational structure of SJCM?
SJCM is an independent 501(c)3 non-profit organization. We are governed by a Board of Trustees that meets monthly. The Board is a volunteer (unpaid) group of primarily Shir Joy chorus members, and includes the Music Director. Any interested chorus member is welcome to attend a board meeting, volunteer to help, or consider joining the board.
Last updated 8/27/17.