Barry Peterson

When I walked into the room, I heard singing so beautiful that it was almost beyond description. Although I could not see any of the singers, I was experiencing one of the most profound moments of my life. The singing was otherworldly; I stood overwhelmed by what I was experiencing! This is a true story about a time in my life. An experience that deeply impacted me. But more about my story later.

So what does storytelling have to do with your choir? I believe that it can play a vital role in promoting the success of your choral organization. Stories can help you connect with your choir members, audience, and patrons. There is power in a story. Best-selling author Seth Godin said that “marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but about the stories you tell.” Video will become an increasingly important tool for telling those stories. Forrester Research says that “video will become the new business norm for communication and collaboration over the next five to ten years.”

Well-crafted stories can answer three key questions that your audience may be asking:

  1. Who you are?

  2. What makes you unique?

  3. What impact will your singing have on me?

Let’s take each of these points separately:

First: Who are you?

Caribou Coffee is a great example of a company who tells us about who they are through story. Their story is about the founders hiking through the Alaskan wilderness, journeying to the top of Sable Mountain, and seeing a herd of Caribou thundering through the valley. Upon reaching the summit, they had experienced a truly “aha” moment. They became inspired to start a coffee shop. What a great story! So what is your story? Perhaps your story is not as memorable or inspiring as the Caribou Coffee story, but your story will still help you to connect in a powerful way.

Second: What makes your choir unique?

I am amazed by the diversity of the choral community. There are Mens choirs, Womens, Boys, Girls, A Cappella, and Gospel — and the list goes on! So how is your organization unique, and how can you best tell that story?

The-Power-of-Story-1My company, United Filmworks has worked with the Minnesota Boychoir for almost 15 years. As part of their most recent Spring Concert filming, we created a short online film that told the story about one of their alumni who loved singing in the choir. When he reached the age where he needed to leave the choir, the alumni choir was a great way for him to stay connected and continue to sing, and this made for a great story. See the film here:

Finally, What impact will your singing have on me?

This perhaps is the single most important story that you can share.  Of all the stories that you could share, this one is often the most engaging. Telling your audience a story about how someone has been impacted by your singing can be extremely powerful.

At the beginning of this article, I started to share with you a personal story about hearing the most beautiful singing I have ever heard. As Paul Harvey used to say, “And now for the rest of the story.”

This amazing experience happened at a traditional Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. My wife and I went to Russia to adopt our son Alex. We were staying at the President Hotel in the heart of Moscow.  From our hotel room window we noticed this beautiful old church with its prominent onion domes. We ended up attending a special service where we heard singing that was so moving it nearly brought us both to tears. For me and my wife, it was an experience we will never forget!

In closing, I would like to quote author Christina Baldwin from her book Storycatcher: Making Sense of our Lives through the Power and Practice of Storytelling:

Story is the song line of a person’s life. We need to sing it, and we need someone to hear the singing. Story told; Story heard; Story written; Story read. That creates the web of life in words.