Arranging Committee Tips

Rick Russell



Review the Arranging Committee tips from Linton Ballinger and Miss Grace Notes. This list of tips should be considered a supplement to their wise counsel.


My System: I write singers names on a worksheet, and work while sitting near other Arranging Committee members among the singers. I use codes to indicate each singer’s status.


Personnel Needs: Arranging cannot easily be done by a single person, especially at larger singings. Ideally, two people (with good handwriting) will transfer singers’ names from the registration cards to the worksheets. A “runner” will bring registration cards to these members, and will cull out the cards of singers who do not wish to lead. Committee members will take turns calling singers in different sessions.


Relations with the Chairman: The Chairman and the Arranging Committee (AC) collaborate to organize the singing. The Chairman will turn the class over to the AC at the beginning of each singing session, and the AC will turn the class over to the Chairman at the ending of each session, or at appropriate times (e.g. Memorial Lesson or passing the hat). Both the Chairman and the AC should have a copy of the singing timeline. As the Chairman may become distracted by his/her multifarious duties, the AC should always be ready with timely prompts at key points during the day.


AC responsibilities:

      The AC controls the pace of the singing. Immediately after the conclusion of each lesson, call the name and the city of the next leader and the name of the leader to follow.

      Don’t allow a lot of chatter to develop among the class members.

      Be loud and clear when calling leaders’ names.

      Be aware of the time, and keep the singing on schedule.


Registration Cards: Unless the AC is very familiar with most of the leaders, registration cards simplify the registration process.

      At a minimum, cards should include singer’s name, city, and whether they wish to lead (Yes, No, Maybe).

      Using different color cards for each singing day avoids possible confusion.

      Request that the Chairman announce that singers must fill out a card each day.

      It is wise for the AC to bring a supply of blank 4 x 6 index cards as back-up.


Planning: Thoughtful planning is essential to orchestrating a good singing. Early on, try to develop a plan for the day’s singing, based upon the number of singers, their home towns and, if known, their leading styles. Here are some suggestions:

      There will typically be four sessions of singing, each of about one hour duration.

      The decisions you make early in the day will constrain your options later on. Think ahead!

      Remember that numerous singers will not be present at the start of the singing, but will show up later on. Some singers may not appear until after lunch.

      If there are fewer than 20 leaders signed up at the beginning of the day, consider asking each leader to call two lessons. Re-evaluate after all leaders have lead once.

      The typical lesson will require about 3+ minutes. In 4 hours of singing, you’ll be able to sing about 75 lessons.

      Call on the Class Officers (Chairman, Vice-Chairman and Secretary) to lead first on Saturday. However, these are “extra” lessons: Officers should be called upon to lead during the day, just as other singers are.

      Warm the class up with local singers early in Session 1.

      Incline toward leading out-of-town, out-of-state, or stronger leaders at more desirable times (in the middle of the day). Incline toward leading local or weaker leaders at less desirable times (near the beginning or end of the singing day).

      Lead “high value” leaders (singers from out-of-state, honored guests, very energetic leaders) in Session 3 (1st preference), Session 2 (2nd preference), and Session 4.

      If you have had to lead a high value leader at a less desirable time on Saturday, make sure you call that leader in Session 3 on Sunday.

      If you are running short of time, do not call any of the singers who checked Maybe on their registration cards.

      Be flexible and keep “Plan B” in mind. Someone is going to call Claremont, notes and words, just when you are coming up to a break. Adapt.

      Lead everyone once before leading anyone twice. (Exception: The Class Officers who led in Session 1).



      At the conclusion of each session of singing, call the name the first leader of the next session before turning the class over to the Chairman. (The Vice-Chairman is usually responsible for choosing the leaders of the call-back lessons.)

      If the break is running long, check with the Chairman (they tend to get distracted).

      At the beginning or conclusion of a session early in the day, request that any singer needing to leave the singing early inform the AC of that fact. Schedule them accordingly.

      After the AC believes that all leaders have led a lesson, request that anyone who desires to lead but has not yet done so make this fact known.

      If the Chairman of the Finance Committee or his/her designee leads a lesson while passing the hat, this does not count as a regular turn leading.

      Do your work in pencil, as you may be erasing a lot.

      You can determine the order of leaders during each session ahead of time, or arrange “on-the-fly.”


The Memorial Lesson:

      The Memorial Lesson typically lasts about 10 – 15 minutes.

      Ideally, the Memorial Lesson will end at the time to start preparations for dinner. However, the AC should name a leader to lead after the Memorial Lesson, just in case the Memorial Lesson is shorter than expected. This leader should realize that their lesson may not be needed. Also, this leader should be a singer who is experienced enough to call an appropriate lesson (e.g. calling Exit or Greenwich right after the Memorial Lesson might be considered tacky).