Well here you go..."the list". Or at least the first part of it.
If you missed the first post...Here is the introduction that explains "the list"
Introduction to Proper Care and Feeding of a Choir.
I struggled with how to do this since some items on the list require pretty detailed explanations...
I decided to go point by point with explanation as I go.
It will probably make for a rather unwieldy list, but that format seems to work the best for me.
Point 1: Decide that you want a choir rather than song leaders.
In case you aren't sure what the difference is...I would say...standards and preparation.
For some reason churches have developed the attitude that everyone is welcome to join the choir. That way no one gets their feelings hurt.
That's song leaders, not a choir.
Great music does NOT just happen.
It requires a certain degree of musical ability on the part of the singers, good direction, and adequate rehearsal.
Not everyone can sing well. It's not mean or uncharitable to say so, that is a demonstrable fact.
Now that doesn't mean that you have to be a professional vocal musician to join the choir.
In fact, I enthusiastically encourage people with no previous experience to join the church choir.
If God gave you the ability to sing I can think of no better place to develop that talent than in service to Him.
It's been my experience that a church choir is a very supportive environment in which to develop vocal skill.
What it does mean however, is that the person wanting to join needs to be able to match pitch.
Matching pitch is the ability to sing a note played on the piano or sung by someone else.
It is absolutely essential in a choir situation, since one person singing off pitch will throw off the entire chord.
When there is a wrong note, it's heard and that discourages the rest of the choir, not to mention the assault on the ears of those listening.
How do you find out if someone can match pitch?
Point 2: Hold Auditions.
If everyone can match pitch, then everyone gets in.
If someone auditions and can't match pitch, offer to work with them privately for a few weeks.
For most, that will be all the additional work required. Very few people are truly tone deaf.
If a person can't match pitch after you've worked with them, then and only then, charitably suggest that they should seek another way to serve the church.
This is not being mean. It's being fair to everyone, including the person that can't sing well.
It's a lot more cruel to lie to someone and discourage the rest of the choir than it is to be up front.
Holding auditions also lets people know that you take music seriously and therefore...so should they. It will set the right tone for all your future efforts to build a good choral program.
Point 3: Show that you value the time of your choir members.
People are extremely busy.
So if you want people to join and stay in your choir program, it is most essential that you consistently demonstrate that you appreciate the value of their time.
How can you do that?
A. Have a plan.
Sit down with your pastor and any other members of the sacred music team (all at the same time and in the same room preferably), and write down a plan.
With any journey, if you have a map, you are much less likely to get lost.
Discuss, decide on and write down, your goals for this week, this month, the next six months, the next year and the next five years. (I'll throw out some suggestions for a plan after I'm done with the list.)
Understand that this plan may change a bit as you go, and further refine your goals or perhaps reach them earlier than anticipated. But it is absolutely essential that you have a basic written framework.
For one thing, it will help you discern which professional opportunities are helpful in reaching your goals and which are not. That will help you with time and money management.
Additionally, if you have a plan to share with your choir, you foster a team-spirit that is going to do nothing but aid you in building and maintaining a quality choral program.
Human nature being what it is, people are usually willing to work towards a goal they can see and understand.
Very few are willing to put effort into anything that they can't see the purpose of.
Even fewer people are going to put effort into something that begins again at the beginning every September.
B. Be completely prepared BEFORE you walk into a rehearsal.
need to use sheet music in addition to the hymnal, print it out the day
before, and have it in the folders or binders that your choir members
use. Make sure the choir loft and or rehearsal space is in order and ready to go. Have all music for accompaniment laid out in order and ready to go.
If you are a composer, make sure your composition is complete before rehearsal. If it isn't, then put it aside for another time.
As a choir member, there is nothing more irritating to me than making the effort to be on time to a rehearsal, only to watch the person in charge scurry around getting ready for the first fifteen minutes.
It says to me that they feel as though their time is more important than mine. Which is rather rude if you think about it.
C. Be early to rehearsal.
As a choir director, be in the rehearsal space at least 15 minutes before anyone else is expected. This allows you time to ensure that everything is in order for the rehearsal, it also gives you time to collect yourself and prepare mentally.
Taking that little bit of time will enable you to greet your choir members as they come in and perhaps engage in a bit of socializing before the rehearsal starts. It will also make you available to any member that has a question, without intruding on rehearsal time.
While you are socializing make sure you keep an eye on the clock.
At beginning time, call the choir to order and begin. Which leads to the next point.
D. Begin on time, every time.
This practice serves several purposes.
It shows respect for the people who arrived on time.
It reminds those who are tardy that being punctual is important, both for themselves so they don't miss something, and out of respect for the other members of the choir and you.
It also gives you the ability to address a situation of consistent tardiness without being hypocritical.
It makes the most of the rehearsal time, which helps the choir to be adequately prepared for the Mass.
Last but not least, it's orderly. God is a God of order and humans always do better when we attempt to follow His example in all things.
I think I'll stop here, that's a lot to think about...I'll continue in the next post.
Thanks for reading.