Six Degree Singers – Growing Their Choir!

Through referrals and social media blitzes, this choir is making waves!

A favorite inspirational quote

“Who Do YOU Know?” This is reference to our choir name, Six Degree Singers – in reference to the theory of Six Degrees of Separation. When the choir began, it was a group where everyone seemed to know at least one other member or had at least heard of several of the others. Because of this, the group was named “Six Degree Singers.”


Choir Name: Six Degree Singers
Location: Silver Spring, MD
Style: Contemporary, Renaissance, World, Folk, Jazz .
Number of singers: 40
Find out more on our website, Facebook, & Twitter!

Other than referrals, what are some other methods you use to help grow the choir?

We do auditions twice a year, and before the auditions, we typically do a social-media blitz advertising our auditions. We were able to use Facebook advertising to help boost our outreach, especially to find those elusive bass 2s and tenor 1s!

A favorite piece of repertoire & why:

Our choir loves to choose diverse pieces from many different cultures and musical styles. One of our favorites to perform is Jai Ho from Slumdog Millionaire. This song is so upbeat and fun to sing, and we were even able to partner with The SAPAN Institute to include dancers in our performance in 2017! Catch the video on Facebook!

How does your choir bond as a group?

 We have a choir retreat 2-3 times a year where we have a day to practice music but also to get to know each other better and have fun bonding activities.

What is one activity that is popular with your choir?

One activity we’ve done is the past is to break into sections and work through a list of questions meant to really get to know a person on a deeper level. The list starts out with more surface level preferences (e.g. favorite color) but then progresses to increasingly probing questions as you go down (e.g. what makes you happiest? What are you afraid of?). It’s a pretty interesting way for us to really talk to each other and get to know everyone in a way we wouldn’t otherwise. 

Any traditions with your choir?

We do monthly social events, like board game night, hiking or going to the renaissance festival. Our choir also has a long tradition of hanging out a local bar, Quarry House, after rehearsals. At least one choir member met his spouse at this very bar!

A juicy fact about a composer/arranger you love to tell your choir members:

We were pretty excited when one composer, Sydney Guillaume, retweeted the video of our performance of one of his pieces, Twa Tanbou!

A turning point in the life of your choir?

 Our choir has experienced many turning points over the years, as we’ve progressed from a group of friends rehearsing in the director’s parents’ basement to a growing community choir.

Here are a few examples showing how the choir has developed: obtaining our own rehearsal space, securing grants, incorporating production elements into our concerts, receiving outside performance requests (e.g. Strathmore MLK concert, performing national anthem at baseball games), and reaching 300 audience members in a concert series.

How do you go about securing grants for your group?

Our choir has various executive committees, made up of volunteer choir members, that help to keep the choir running. The fundraising committee works hard to help the choir secure grants each year to support our expenses. They research local grants that we might be eligible for at the county and state level and work on completing those applications. 

A very special performance and what made it special?

Last year, for our 10-year anniversary, we did a “Choral Inspirations” concert where choir members submitted pieces that truly inspired them as musicians and encouraged them to continue to be involved in music. We had this wonderful video compilation of choir interviews with singers talking about why each piece was important to them and the impact on their life.

How was that video shared with the audience?

We typically have a PowerPoint show running alongside our concerts that contains the song titles, composer names, and translations of any foreign-language lyrics (either projected on the venue’s existing AV system or using a projector and portable screen as well as portable amp/speaker owned by one of our members).

For the Choral Inspirations concert, the videos were integrated into this PowerPoint to play as a brief introduction before each piece. Making and editing the videos was relatively straightforward since these days, both Windows and MacOS come with on-board video editing software that is more than adequate, and we didn’t bother with subtitles or captions so it really was just talking heads for the most part, embedded in a PowerPoint slide that contained the talking head’s name. 

An emotional moment you had in a performance? 

We were singing a piece called “The New Moon” during an epic thunderstorm and the lyrics fit perfectly (“As rain beats down the bright, proud sea”). Right at the end, as were holding the final chord, there was this chilling clash of thunder – very goose-bump worthy moment!

Additionally, last year we were also invited to sing Moses Hogan’s “There Is a Balm In Gilead” for Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the Strathmore which was a very powerful experience.

A challenging performance and how you faced it:

We’ve had our fair share of challenges, but the show must go on! During one performance there was a rock band playing outside on the street in front of our venue, competing with our music. Another year at our concert in June, the AC broke down before the performance, prompting scrambling for bottled water and fans. We also had a performance with torrential thunderstorms and rain. It was so bad that choir members on their way to the call time were reporting flash flooding on the beltway! Fortunately, everyone made it safely and just in time to perform.

What is your audition process?

For auditions, potential members sing for a panel including our artistic director and section leaders. There are four components to the audition:
● Sing a prepared solo without accompaniment
● Prepare their part in a prepared piece of music to sing with a quartet
● Pitch memory exercises
● Sight-reading

Choir Madness: something you do with your choir that surprises new singers!

Our choir has a strong emphasis on sight-reading. We start most rehearsals by singing a short piece using solfege from our sight-reading packets. This can come as a shock to some new choir members who may not be familiar with solfege!

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