2017 Chattanooga Community Christmas Chorus
The Choo Choo Chorus invites non-members to sing with us each year for the Christmas season as part of the Chattanooga Community Christmas Chorus, now in its 15th year. We will have 11 rehearsals from 7-9pm every Monday night beginning the first Monday of October (the 2nd, this year). On Saturday, December 16th, we will produce a big benefit concert for the community and we will give a large sum of money to a charity of our choosing. Since 2007, that charity has been the Walter Boehm Birth Defects Center and our total contribution to them has been over $40,000 dollars. There is no cost to the singer and the Choo Choo Chorus picks up the bill for everything you need, including sheet music and a CD with learning tracks for each song. The rest of this page provides far more detail for those with questions, but everything you need to know will be explained during the first rehearsal. Just come to the All Saints Academy building, 310 E. 8th St. in Chattanooga (map) by 7pm on October 2, 2017. You can park in the lot just past the building on the right and come in the main entrance from 8th Street. If you know you are coming and you are pretty sure we don’t know about it, please contact Steve Wixson (click here) so we can prepare your binder and CD in advance.
Below, you can find a couple of lists that address common questions and concerns a new member might have. Returning members already know how easy it is and how much fun you will have, so you really don’t need to read the rest.
What You Can Expect of Us
The members of the Choo Choo Chorus do our best to make joining the CCCC as simple and painless as possible. We want every man to celebrate the joys of Christmas with us through close-harmony acapella singing. With those goals in mind, here is a list of things we strive to achieve every year and we expect our CCCC members to hold us to them.
- We won’t ask you for any money.
- We will loan you a binder of full of sheet music and a CD with learning tracks for all of the music. Barbershop learning tracks have your part sung in one ear and the other three parts in the other ear. It’s the easiest way to learn music we have found so far.
- We will provide good vocal instruction. Our directors are highly-trained musicians who understand how to sing with quality and how to teach you to do the same.
- We will provide free parking immediately next to our building.
- We will do our best to find you a ride to rehearsals if that is a problem. Some folks can’t drive at night (or at all) and we understand that.
- We won’t ask you to do anything that you aren’t physically comfortable doing. If you need to sit half or all of the time, that’s fine with everyone and we insist that you do so. If you need a chair or stool on stage, we will provide one. Note that you need to be able to go up and down stairs because we don’t have an elevator.
- We will offer you the chance to sing in several performances. The Choo Choo Chorus typically performs six or more public and private concerts around the community in December and our Community Chorus members are almost always invited to sing with us. These performances are not mandatory, but they are a ton of fun and a great chance to get the stage butterflies out of your system before singing for hundreds on the big show in mid-December.
- We won’t sing the exact same song list every year. We try to keep 60-70% of the repertoire the same year-to-year and rotate in new songs so the repeat members don’t get bored and we can progress in our singing abilities.
- We won’t publicly shame you for mistakes. Wrong notes or lyrics, when they must happen, should be made loudly so that the director or section leader might discover it before we perform it publicly. They are likely to say something like “Someone in the baritone section is singing the first note in measure 37 a half-step too low. Please fix it. Let’s hear just the baritones sing that a couple of times.”
What We Expect of You
Just as you expect certain things out of the organization running such a large endeavor, we ask that you keep this list in mind so we are all on the same page and can provide the best performance for our audiences and the most benefit to our charity.
- We ask that you attend a majority of the rehearsals and that your first rehearsal is no later than the first Monday in November. Life happens, especially around the holidays, and we totally understand that. You’ll know by the last rehearsal if you have missed too much to be ready to sing on the show. If you can’t, we are still happy you got involved and we hope you’ll join us again, either in next year’s Community Chorus or at a regular Choo Choo Chorus rehearsal.
- We ask that you sing with the chorus in the big show in mid-December. That show is the biggest event on our holiday calendar, the one we have worked so hard to make great for the community, and each singer contributes a voice to our overall sound. Don’t let your hard work and talent go to waste!
- We ask that you sell tickets to the show to your friends and family. Those tickets are where we make the money to give to our charity. It’s a lot of fun to get together and sing the songs of the season, both sacred and secular, but providing kids with life-saving surgeries they can’t afford is more than fun — it’s fulfilling. It’s a way to convert your musical talents into money that Chattanooga-area families won’t soon forget.
- We ask that you invite your male friends and family to sing with us. Everything gets better as the chorus gets bigger — the sound, the fellowship, the audience, and the charitable contribution. Almost everyone can think of someone who might have fun singing with us. We just ask that you invite them.
- We ask that you spend a little time each week listening to your learning CD. Most of our guys play it while they drive and find that it’s far easier to learn the music than they anticipated. We want to spend our rehearsal time fixing issues of interpretation, vocal unity, and tuning instead of words and notes. This is not a huge time commitment, but a few minutes each day will really pay dividends.
Example song list: What We Sang in 2014
- Jingle Bells – familiar to most of you and fun to sing
- We Need A Little Christmas – the Broadway song (polka tempo) that says it all
- A Cradle In Bethlehem – made famous by Nat King Cole, will reach deep into your heart
- Betelehemu – a real crowd pleaser that will stretch your skills
- Ding Dong Merrily On High – an uptempo, happy celebration
- I Saw Three Ships – the exciting, many-parts-moving-at once version of this carol
- It Came Upon A Midnight Clear – gentle, peaceful, and moving
- Mary Had A Baby – an old spiritual with a cappella fervor
- O Come, O Come, Emmanuel – a Latin (dead language, not S. American) verse in Gregorian plainsong and a great finish – what more could you ask for?
- Silent Night – traditional crowd-pleaser and closer that draws us all together