Though singing in a group is wonderful, choir members are often late for rehearsal. That’s the way it goes. Maybe it’s part of human nature. Somehow people tend to think being early is silly and being late is acceptable.
It’s a shame. Being early has a lot of benefits. You may have a little talk to the people who are dear to you, you can help arrange the chairs, make coffee, order your sheet music. And above all, you will have the time to let go of your daily troubles and get in the mood for singing.
What are the options as a conductor to prevent the singers from being late? You can’t do very much about it, I’m afraid. You shouldn’t nag, because it’s negative. You shouldn’t punish, because that’s negative as well. You shouldn’t beg, because as a conductor you should be above that. You might ask the singers to take their responsibility. That will probably help. Things will indeed get better, though mostly the effect is temporary.
In my view there is just one thing you can truly do as a conductor. And that is: start exactly in time. Eight o’clock? Stand up! Start with the warm-up exercises. Even though there is only a handful of singers present. Make a serious effort to do interesting things. Make sure people are concentrated. The choir members who are coming in late, will know they were not in time for the rehearsal. Let them join quietly. Hopefully they will realize that they missed an essential part of the singing. (That’s why you should always make the warming-up interesting.)
One more thing. End the rehearsal in time. If you want the singers to respect the starting time, as a conductor you should respect the stopping time. Some singers probably need to catch a bus or want to go to bed. And don’t forget the last phase of the evening: team building with a drink!