Toolkit: Start a Chorus


Public performances by the chorus (for Giving Voice, it’s after each 14-week or 8-week summer session) are important to the choral experience. First, they provide a goal and purpose for the chorus members. Second, they vividly demonstrate to family members, friends, and other audience members that many people with Alzheimer’s can experience a sense of joy, community, and accomplishment that they never thought possible.


Preparing for any performance requires planning and attention to detail. Don’t forget these important steps:

  • Determine if tickets are required for the performance
  • Market the concert
  • Draw the stage set-up for singers, accompanist, music director, and additional musicians
  • Distribute a map of the performance site with easy-to-follow driving instructions
  • Arrange for any additional musicians who will be needed
  • Arrange for risers and/or acoustic shell, if needed
  • Arrange for green room refreshments
  • Ensure singers have access to restrooms
  • Plan for facility cleanup
  • Line up volunteers to assist singers and with the set-up of the performance
  • Set up an informational table

Performance Day

On the day of the performance, the singers typically gather for a rehearsal one hour before the performance to get ready for the performance. Allow 30 minutes after the rehearsal to rest and regroup. At Giving Voice, morning or afternoon concert times generally work best because the singers are often fatigued by evening.Concerts are typically less than 75 minutes long, with no intermission. Schedules should be clearly communicated in writing to all singers and any ancillary musicians.


Ideally, the public performance is held at the rehearsal facility. Performing in a different venue requires that the singers become acquainted with the new place, both acoustically and logistically, and disrupts the transportation routine established for rehearsals over the preceding months.

Reserve the space well in advance and inform singers of the performance date at the first rehearsal including information about directions, parking, performance attire, and refreshments.

See Facilities for more details regarding the performance space.


At Giving Voice Chorus, our performances are seriously prepared, yet are in an informal, family-friendly format. A different pair of singers typically introduces each song and tells a bit about the roles of music and Alzheimer’s in their lives. These introductions give voice to stories that underscore the humanity of the singers and make the performance unlike any other choral concert.


We recommend that singers follow a “dress code” for performances. Our chorus members wear black bottoms, white tops, and purple scarves around their necks.

Printed Programs

Printed programs for audience members are not only a helpful guide to the musical performance, but also provide a place to identify the chorus members, accompanist, and any other participating musicians; recognize volunteers, donors, and sponsors; invite contributions to support the chorus program; and inform potential new members about how to learn more about the chorus.


The Giving Voice performance experience includes an opportunity for singers to socialize with their families and friends at the concert venue immediately after the performance. The exchanges reinforce the value of the work each chorus member is doing and help change the stigma associated with dementia. Volunteers are responsible for providing or obtaining donations of non-alcoholic drinks, cookies or other snacks, cups, plates, and napkins, and also take care of set-up and cleanup. Each audience member leaves as a potential advocate for celebrating the potential of music to change the lives of those on the journey of Alzheimer’s or other dementias.


Why does GVI host a performance of the chorus at the conclusion of each session?

The performance gives the participants a venue to demonstrate their achievement and joy to family members and the community at large.

Does GVI use outside musicians in the performance?

GVI has enhanced the performance experience by hiring outside musicians to accompany the chorus. The outside musicians are optional and have included violin, guitar, drums, and mandolin.