Last Choir Standing

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The Great Choir Debate

So what is it that makes some choirs better than others? What should they wear? And is it healthy for choirs to compete against each other?

We asked some of the foremost singers, music stars, celebrity choir fans and experts what they think about singing in a choir, what their 'pet hates' are, and the 'do's and don'ts' of performing as a group.

Is there a difference in opinion between those who sing professionally, and those who sing purely for pleasure? We spoke to X Factor / G4 star Jonathan Ansell, Stephen and Dominic from Blake, New Zealand singer Hayley Westenra, acclaimed choral director Mike Brewer, Blue Peter presenter and choir singer Zoe Salmon, EastEnders star and ex-singer John Partridge and Last Choir Standing's very own Sharon D. Clarke. Click 'more answers' after each question to find out what they all had to say.

And we want you to join in the debate. You can post your thoughts using the comments form on each answer page and we'll publish the best ones.

Question 1 - What's the one thing an untrained person can look for in a choir that indicates how good they are?
Sharon D. Clarke

Sharon D. Clarke: "Firstly how do they sound? Are they together, do they blend? Are they listening to each other? Tuning - do they make my ears hurt? Am I wincing and going "ouch"? That's not a good sign!"

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Question 2 - Are there any surprising benefits from singing in a choir?
Mike Brewer

Mike Brewer: "It's well-being, self confidence and flowering as a person in every sense."

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Question 3 - What should a choir wear, and should points be deducted if they look terrible?!
Jonathan Ansell

Jonathan Ansell: "Yes! There should be some kind of marked deduction for bad clothes or costume."

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Question 4 - Is there anything a choir shouldn't sing?
Dominic Tighe

Dominic Tighe: "No, not really... perhaps something by the Prodigy isn't really appropriate for a choir?! We'd do a great cover of a Prodigy song though!"

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Question 5 - Should singing be compulsory in schools?
Hayley Westenra

Hayley Westenra: "Definitely, yeah! I think music's a great thing to have, it's a very natural thing to sing and it should be encouraged."

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Question 6 - Can anybody sing in a choir?
John Partridge

John Partridge: "The great thing about a choir is that they are great at building confidence. The fact that you're all singing together, it doesn't really matter if you're not the best singer in the world, as a great choir is about blend."

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Question 7 - Should choirs include 'choreography' in their performance?
Sharon D. Clarke

Sharon D. Clarke: "I love it when they move! Music is supposed to come from within your body; it's supposed to make you move. So anyone who sings standing still, for me, is not working. I want to see something."

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Question 8 - Is the world of choral singing competitive?
Stephen Bowman

Stephen Bowman: "Yes absolutely. Choir competitions aren't anything new; this programme just makes them a little more glamorous! It's a great way to push people."

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Question 9 - Is there anything conductors do that sets the alarm bells ringing?
Zoe Salmon

Zoe Salmon: "They're all so entertaining, they really are. They're so charismatic and they're just a little choir unto themselves really!"

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Question 10 - How many people does it take to make a choir?
Jonathan Ansell

Jonathan Ansell: "Hmm - that's a difficult question! I think a choir needs to be, in my eyes, at least 10. Otherwise it's a vocal ensemble I guess. From 10 upwards the sky's the limit really!"

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Well done to Only Men Aloud! I would have been happy with any of the three finalists winning!

Music Lover, Northern Ireland

Hopefully now youngsters will see it as hip to be part of a choir.

Mike Evans, Swansea

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