Production Details for Do It Your Self-Choirs
The Complaints Choir Song
The idea is to create a catchy, positive and powerful choir song out of the complaints of the participants. The good
mood of the song will work as contrast for the negative lyrics. The song should be easy for anyone to learn. The
creating of the song happens through a democratic process described below.
People working in the project:
The task of the Organiser is to make the project happen according to the production plan, and be the contact person
for the participants and keep Tellervo&Oliver updated.
The Organiser takes care that the musician, camera crew members and the participants sign a contract where they
agree that the video documentation can be shown in the website and lectures of Tellervo and Oliver.
The Composer / Conducter (later referred as the Musician)
Requirements for the Musician:
* S/he should be local
* Ability to work fast and organic
* Ability to collaborate
* Pedagogical skills
* Friendly and enthusiastic
The Musician will compose the song, teach it to the participants and conduct the choir. (The tasks of composing
the song and conducting the choir should NOT be devided between two different people). S/He is the director
of the choir but the participants are encouraged to influence the song with their ideas and feedback. The process
happens in good collaborative spirit. The composing process starts not before the first rehearsal, where the
participants edit the complaints. In the second rehearsal the preliminary draft of the song should be ready. See the
details under ”Complaints Workshop”.
The choir will consist of amateur singers, some of them have never sang before. The musician should have the
quality to make the choir enthusiastic so that also the most shy participants will sing loud and proud.
The Musician decides if the song needs additional accompanists.
Note: accompanying instruments help amateour singers to stay in tune and rhythm.
A simple meal (for example soup and bread) + tea, coffee & biscuits are served within each rehearsals.
It is a recommendation to have a documentation crew consisting of three professional Camera Men, a Sound
Recorder and a Still Photographer
Search of the Participants
The search for participants starts ca. 6 weeks before the first rehearsal. The deadline for signing in is 3-7 days
before the first rehearsal, but anybody who misses the deadline are welcome to join anyway.
The campaign should be well planned in order to reach different kind of people from different social classes, ages
and backgrounds. Expensive ads are not necessary; flyers, email-lists, blogs or other cheap means are emough.
Articles in local newspapers are good advertisement.
Who can take part:
Anybody can take part. No singing skills required. Limitless amount of people can join the choir.
A blog or website – preferable with an own domain – is recommended to be set up when the search for
A press release should be issued well in time. Reports in any media are good. The more news items are published
before the start of the workshop the better.
Example text for Advertisement
Join the Complaints Choir of XXX.
This hilarous project transforms your complaints into an impressive choir song!
Register for participation:
- Send in your complaints by email or post to an address below until XX.XX. Any topic allowed!
- Join the complaints workshop, first meeting at XX
- Participation is free
- Singing skills not required!
- Meal served at each rehearsal
- No singing skills required
- Each participant receives a dvd of the performance
First meeting XX.XX at XXXXXX (the following 4 rehearsal dates will be announced later). Grand performance
XX.XX in XXXX.
The Complaints Choir of XXX is organised by XXX and supported by XXX. The project was initiated by Artists
Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen. See all the choirs at www.complaintschoir.org
Grouping the Complaints
Some days before the First meeting The Organizer reads through all the complaints and organizes them into
categories, for example complaints about Public Transport, Other People, Me Myself, Friends and Family, World
Issues, Service, Work and Education... Each category should be written to upper edge of a big cardboard sheet.
Complaints Choir Workshop
The First Meeting
Needed material: Set of printed out complaints (organized in categories) big colourful cardboard sheets - one
for each category, glue sticks and scissors - one for each category, pen for all the participant, paper, post its
1. The Organiser introduces the project and the musician
2. Musical warm up: The musician makes a little musical warm up (ca. 15min). The main meaning of this is
to rise the spirit and make also “bad” singers feel that producing sound together is fun and that they are good
enough for this project - so this should not be too complicated and serious.
3. Complaining warm up: People go to circle. They throw a ball to each other, and the one who catches it
must say a complaint. Two people sit in the middle of the circle and writes down the shouted complaints.
(20min). As an alternative to that, people write anonymously more complaints into post its: one complaint
per post it. After the point 4. they distribute the new complaints into right categories (the cardboard sheets).
4. Introducing the categories: The organizer introduces the complaints categories, and reads one example
complaint from each category. Then the cardboards with categories written on them are spread around the
space. The participants have to choose one category, which they feel most strong about, and go the related
cardboard. (Those groups, which have least complaints, get the complaints produced within the ball game as
5. Collective Editing: Now small groups are created around each category. We call these “expert teams”.
Each expert team read through all the complaints of their own category among themselves. Within the group
they must choose the complaints, which they want to the song. They are encouraged to select not only the
complaints they agree on, but also complaints, which they perhaps don’t agree on but which create clear and
strong images in their minds. (Ca. 1 hour is needed for this process)
6. Introducing the selected complaints: Each groups go in front one after another, tell their names, and
present the chosen complaints
7 Eating together: Simple meal, usually soup, bread, coffee and tea, is offered
8. In the end of the rehearsal the organizer ask if some have time to join the next step of the editing process
next day. 2-4 volunteers is an ideal amount.
The time between the First and the Second Rehearsal
The musician, the organiser and representative(s) of the choir meet the day after ther first rehearsal and go
through all the complaints. By respecting the editoral choices of the choir the final selection of complaints
and a preliminary sketch of the lyrics are made. The musician start composing the complaints into a cheerful
The song doesnt need to get fully ready until the first rehearsal: The song is developing organically and can
be modified and processed until the last rehearsal. The ideas of the choir members are taken in consideration.
A collaborative atmosphere is important - the song is a collective effort.
Within ca. 7 days from the first rehearsal. The musician introduces the draft of the song for the participants.
Part of the song (perhaps the chorus) will be rehearsed. Eating together.
Third, Fourth and Fifth Rehearsals
The Musiician leads choir rehearsals.The song will get more and more shape during each rehearsal. In the
end of each rehearsals eating together.
Note: the rehearsals should never take place in a row - otherwise the process gets too exhausting: There
should be always 1-6 days off in between each rehearsals. The last rehearsal should take place one day
before the public performance.
6. Performances and Documentation
The performances are documented. The camera men are needed during all the performances as well
as in the audio recording session. The sound recordist is needed only for the audio recording. One of
the 3 camera men should additionally assume the role of the director or coordinator of the film crew to
ensure optimum footage from each location.
A good quality sound track for the video will be recorded in a separated audio recording
session. The best day for recording is one day after the first performance day: then the choir
has the best confidence in singing the song. Also the audio recording session is filmed on
The ready video is given for the participants as a memory, and contributed to
It is a requirement to mention in all the pr- and advertisement material as well as in web sites and in the
end titles of the video as follows:
The project was initiated by Artists Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen 2005. See all the
complaints choirs of the world at www.complaintschoir.org
Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen
Tel. +358 40 822 3552