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Financial: How much are Community choir directors paid?

Original post: I am curious what volunteer community chorus directors get paid. I have
been asked to consider conducting a 50 voice adult volunteer chorus. There
would be 2 concerts a year, one rehearsal a week, I would choose repertoire,
orchestral works welcomed, many logistical duties expected (that might be
delegated.) They offer $100.00 per rehearsal/concert... so about 1,200 a
concert. Is this in the normal range?

I have edited the responses. Virtually everyone commented on all of the non musical aspects that must be done in this job and the need to nurture and delegate! I decided not to take the position. Thanks to all.
Michael S. Wade
Elkhart, In

1. I suspect you will find a broad range of responses, and these will depend on
many factors - standard of living in a particular region, size of group,
amount of fundraising structure is in place, etc.

I'm in my 8th year of leading a 70-voice choral society in Chester County,
PA, about one hour west of Philadelphia. Despite great musical strides,
we're slow in development of the board, fund raising, and other
administrative matters.

They've been able to come from $4,000 a year to $7,200 for my salary, and my
accompanist gets about 2/3 of that. We're the only two paid employess (no
bus. mgr. or exec. dir).

2. That would be low for our area (Eastern Connecticut). Amount here for that work load would be more like 2500 to 4000 per concert.

3. I conduct two community groups, non-auditioned, always cutting it close with the money [!!!]. I get $125/rehearsal for one group and a little less for the other -- $118/rehearsal [or performance]. So your group is in the ballpark. By the way, I've been with both groups for 12 years, nearng the completion of 13. That may also be reflected in the compensation.

We have generally given a 4-5% raise every year to both conductor and accompanist for umpteen years, and while we would like to give more we just can't. Over the years we've paid an average of about $18,000/yr in 2007 dollars to the conductor and about $7000 to the accompanist; the group is about 80 members, and we do 2-3 concerts/year, two perfs per concert. Sometimes small orchestra, sometimes brass, sometimes a cappella. This year we are doing collaborative concert and so can hire bigger orchestra but it is still a stretch. New members are auditioned and over the years the bar has risen. It used to be much less demanding, but we are mostly very happy with the raised standards.

What you are getting is the pits. $100 for a rehearsal is about $40/hour. Considering the time you put into preparation that is lousy. You would be doing well if you worked full time at that rate, but not when all you're going to get after a full season is about $2,500.

5.Well, I just took a community chorus over in the community where I teach -not live-gratis. It's my give back.

6.We are a 30 voice community chorus in Richmond Hill NY (Queens) with about 12 rehearsals plus dress and concert. We pay our director $2000 per semester. We also give two concerts annually.

7.Many things come into play with conductor compensation, including the size of the community, the financial health of the organization, etc. Having said that, $100 per rehearsal/concert seems like absolute peanuts to me.

8.I am member and treasurer for just such a group in Connecticut. Our Director gets $2,000 per concert. It works out to close to $100 per rehearsal, however, because our rehearsal seasons vary from 16-22 weeks for one and a half hour rehearsals. Closer to concert time they expand to 2 hours. . We have a volunteer board for some of the logisitcal duties, but it seems our director does more than her fair share. I strongly recommend delegating. I'm a church choir director and am paid $75 per hour for rehearsal time.

9.I am completing my 35th (and final year) w/ a group I co-founded. I took nothing for the 1st 12 years, then worked my way up from $100 per 1/2 year to now getting $3,500 per 1/2 year. Our season sounds much like yours--2 concerts, 1 weekly rehearsal. BUT I do nearly everything from preparing all mailings (yearly around 900 letters seeking contributions, 300 letters to potential members), grant requests and reports, all creative decisions, ordering & processing all the music, all promotional activities, etc., etc . I don't suggest anyone taking all that on with a group, but it's the monster that was created.
It took 35 years plus 2 degrees beyond the Bachelor's to move from zero to a $7,500/year stipend.

10. I'm paid $130 per rehearsal/concert (started off at $110 five years
ago). I have 3 concerts a year and rehearse from early September to
mid-June. I was a guest conductor once for a similar community chorus and I was
paid $200 per rehearsal.

11. I did a breif, unscientific survey on this topic, and about accompanists'
salaries, in NY State last fall. The result was that there IS no standard,
that it varied greatly from chorus to chorus and city to city, and even
within cities. The two main factors seemed to be the weatlh of the cities in
a general way, and then the budget of the chorus.

12.I direct a comm chor in NH, We do two seasons per year, usually two concerts per season. I choose repertoire and they have a good group of board members who take care of much of the logistical work. They're paying me $7,000 per year. If you think you're worth more, let them know!

13.In my experience, these positions tend to pay between $8,000-$10,000
per season for two concerts, weekly rehearsals, and other related duties. There are those
groups that also pay less. As a professional conductor, $100 an hour, rather
than per rehearsal, is more in the ballpark. After all, it's hard work every
minute -- there's no down time for the conductor during rehearsal: you're on
every minute.

14. I get $5000 per year, we do three sets of concerts per year with duplicate
performances of each programs.

15.A very comparable sounding situation to the choir for which I am the President of the board. We pay our director $6,000 per year. Which I think is high. I inherited this rate of pay. My philosophy is that the conductor should be paid roughly the median membership income or a little less if it is not considered a full time "job". That then creates an "hourly" rate of pay type of scenario.

16.It's my guess that $100 per rehearsal is a bit low, but I'll be curious to
know what you hear. As Artistic Director of .... Choir, a
10-year old volunteer chorus, I am paid $300 a month, year round...quite a
bit lower than you're being offered. We do 3 concert series a year. I came
on board when the choir was a foundling organization and there was little
money at all. The growth of this choir has meant the world to me, and
several times I've said no to potential raises in order to boost another
part of our budget or to hire a part-time staff person.

17.So, based on my thirty-plus years of working
in community chorus leadership positions,
I would urge you to weigh the issues of
1) gaining experience and 2) being fairly
compensated very closely--then ask your
board contact about the issues I have
listed, plus any others that come to your
mind, and see how much more than the basic
rehearsal/performance commitment they expect
from you. When you have done that, I would
guess you will decide that the job is worth
more than $1200 per program.

If you have a bachelor's and no experience
in community chorus leadership, I would say
that the job is worth at very least around
$4000 per season. If you have a master's
degree in choral music it is worth at least

18.That's exactly my situation - exactly my pay.

You can look to Chorus America, I believe, for guidelines in this regard. May even want to call them.

I think it depends on if this is an established group or not and what the position entails. In the case of our choir, now in its 12th highly successful year, we have been blessed with the same founding Artistic Director. She puts in about 30 hours a week, largely uncompensated, especially in the beginning. We have made it a priority from the beginning (the Board; no other paid staff than the AD) to more appropriately compensate her for her extraordinary abilities and educational background. We are continuing to look at this.

I think you find that this compensation varies widely and perhaps even by geographic area. We are now in the $22K range for all activities - some classes and extras are paid as we go as add-ons (included in that figure, though). We continue to review and look at compensating her adequately for all that she does.

In the very beginnings of the group, we had to set a per rehearsal/ concert rate, but have moved away from that over the years.


on May 16, 2007 10:00pm
I am the founding music director (18 years) of a highly-auditiond chamber chorus of around 35. We do three presentations a year (some repeated), do one or two paid "gigs," expand to 85 or so for one winter concert with full orchestra, professional soloists, etc., plus we have two youth choruses (treble and high school). I get a base salary of $20,000 plus a concert stipend. We have a staff of six, all paid, including a manager and three rehearsal accompanists. We have a development board. If I weren't paid at least this much, I would not be able to do the job because the amount of time it entails is huge. The group is quit successful, thank goodness.

I suspect the directors of the groups from urban areas are probably paid far more than those stipends listed in the other responses I've read so far.I think if you are going for a professional product, which will build a solid audience base, groups have to get very serious about raising money and compensating their directors and other staff adequately.$100 per rehearsal doesn't begin to cut it.