Have you heard of MasterClass, an online collection of classes featuring an amazing line-up of famous folks? They hooked me when I saw they had a class by Bill Nye (the science guy) and Amanda Gorman. Months later, who knew I needed to know how to become a ninja or learn how to make electronic dance music? But here we are and I’ve really been enjoying the stories told and lessons learned in many of the classes. What’s the point? Currently, I’m in the middle of “The Art of Storytelling,” by Neil Gaiman. He says in the introduction, “Humans are fundamentally storytelling creatures. Whether you’re talking to a friend or penning a novel, you’re using the same tools to form a connection with people, to entertain them, and to make them think differently about the world.” That’s a perfect intro for today’s Advocacy & Collaboration post.
We all know that feeling when you have a story you just can’t wait to tell your best friend and it literally takes an entire brunch to get through all the details. How do we get that excited and connected telling folks the stories behind our incredible choirs? How can we connect, entertain, and ultimately gain supporters for our choral community through value-based messaging (also known as quality, fact-based storytelling)?
In this blog post, based on an interview curated by the Advocacy & Collaboration Committee, you’ll learn how to utilize data to support your impact and further tell your choir’s story – the glamorous and quiet ones – from Liza Beth, Vice-President of Communications and Membership for Chorus America. We dive into the story of what Chorus America has done with their Chorus Impact Study and how it can provide us all with data and tools, and as Liza Beth says, a “to-do list to become a marketing storytelling guru.” Let’s break the content down by using some quotes pulled directly from Liza Beth’s interview:
“Connecting your advocacy to the why behind it.”
“Values-based messaging” means it is tied directly to your why (or mission statement). It’s the backbone of the story. We don’t need a MasterClass course to remember that a good story has characters, setting, plot, problem, and solution. Liza explains that the point is to tell stories that “create a positive and broad impact that connects to the why” of your organization. What does that mean for choral music? Liza broadly breaks those “whys” into two categories:
“Artistic Why: meaning we create beautiful music that moves us, our singers, and our audiences and we have all felt the realness and importance of that in and of itself.”
“The Ripple Effects of Choral Music: also known as the big why of choral music. The ability of choral music to create community and connect people. We want to tap into that because it is a powerful argument for the work we all do in the field.” Liza explains that in this kind of case making, even those who don’t sing in a chorus or have never been to a concert can get behind how a choral organization benefits its members and the community at large – if the story is told clearly.
“Choral singing: it’s a unique participatory art form and a wonderful community of really giving, really collaborative, really generous people.”
To support “the ripple effect,” you need big picture data and evidence, like that found in the Chorus Impact Study. For example, hard facts related to the numbers of how much singers give back to their communities. Choir members are more likely to vote, volunteer, give philanthropically, and have “higher levels of tolerance.” These data points come from the stats in the Chorus Impact study. This is Liza Beth’s favorite stat: “63% of singers credit singing with making them more accepting of people that are different from them.”
But, it is not just the general data. It is important that you share the data intertwined with your chorus and your organization; you have to make the transfer so your story makes sense and connects to the listener. How are you building community and connecting people? Who are you reaching and why? What relationships are you fostering through programming? What cool things are you doing and why? Talk about these things to your supporters. Tell them the stories fully equipped with characters, a setting, plot, problem, and solution, and then sprinkle in additional data if needed. Focus on what you’re doing. These are things you know and should be so proud to talk about! Brunch quality storytelling, folks!
“It’s all incredibly related . . . the work in the schools, colleges, and universities. That is all part of the choral pipeline and that is what is contributing to a healthy, thriving choral ecosystem today.”
Liza wraps up the interview by talking through tools to tell your story on social media and other marketing platforms. She specifically talks about the RediscoverHarmony.com campaign which provides resources to support the idea that “singing together has the power to bring us together.” The campaign and website was created as we all “emerge from isolation, let’s #RediscoverHarmony together. Choruses, choirs, and singing groups bring harmony to our communities in a way that is more important now than ever before. With our interactive tool, you can create your own harmony using the voices of real choral singers.”
Based on what we learned from this interview, here are three quick things that you can do to create a value-based marketing campaign right now:
- Tell a story that connects with your why, such as a quote from a singer, a success story from a program, or picture from rehearsal that demonstrates singers “rediscovering harmony” together.
- Share the harmonizer from rediscover harmony and offer ways for even non-singers to rediscover harmony (https://rediscoverharmony.
- If safe in your area, follow up with an invitation to a formal concert or event, or informal open rehearsal or sharing session so more people (in and out of your choir) can “rediscover harmony” live!
How has your choir “rediscovered harmony?” Where can you add data to that story to create a story a potentially new supporter could get behind? That’s the point of today’s blog. And if you’re looking for more, check out Liza Beth’s entire interview. You can even watch this episode on YouTube (or Episode 105 on the “Music (ed) Matters” Podcast wherever you listen to pods).
Epilogue: The day this blog publishes just happens to also be the first day of the Chorus America annual conference, June 15-17, 2022, in Baltimore, Maryland. A coincidence! We hadn’t honestly planned that, but cool, yes! Interested in being a part of this year’s Chorus American conference – happening right now as you’re reading this – you can support Chorus America through the virtual Gala and Silent and Live Auction (Thursday, June 16, in the evening) (https://paybee.io/hybrid-
Learn more about Liza Beth: https://chorusamerica.org/
Read more from The Chorus Impact Study, Singing for a Lifetime: https://chorusamerica.org/
Dr. Emily Williams Burch chairs ACDA’s Advocacy & Collaboration Committee. Since 2014, Dr. Burch has served in various positions for ACDA at the state, regional, and national level in a variety of roles, including co-programming chair and honor choir coordinator for the Southern Region ACDA conferences. You can subscribe to her podcast for music educators wherever you get your podcasts, or at EmilyBurch.org/podcast.