Community Choirs in Australia: Choir Leaders

Approximately 95% of respondents said that their choir’s director or conductor has some form of musical training, with only a small proportion having no musical training (5%). Almost two thirds have a degree related to music (62%) and most of those have a degree in music education (58%). Almost half have a degree in music other than education such as performance (45%) and 7% have a music therapy degree.[i] Of those with no formal qualification, nine out of ten have a ‘non-degree education in music’.

In total, 59% of choir leaders are paid while the remainder take on the role voluntarily. There are a large number in both categories and a wide range of fees for those that are paid, ranging from a modest stipend through to ‘per rehearsal’ fees and even salaries. Choir leaders with a music degree are twice as likely to be paid for their role as they are to lead a choir voluntarily (67% vs 33%). Choir leaders with no music degree are just as likely to be paid as to take on the role voluntarily (49% vs 51%).

Figure 9 shows that a quarter of paid choir directors/conductors receive less than $2500 per year and approximately 16% of directors receive more than $10,000 per year. The largest bracket is between $2500 and $5000.[ii] It is important to remember that this figure only represents respondents who stated the annual or weekly payment of the director/conductor, and that these figures are for individual choirs. We know that some people run a number of choirs and are paid by each separately, therefore these people will have higher earnings from choral conducting/directing.

[i] Some people have more than one degree, this total does not equal 100%

[ii] Salary brackets are chosen for the purpose of demonstration; four ranges of $2500 for up to $10000, then two ranges of $5000, then ‘over $20000”