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Choral Potpourri: Choral Ethics; Bein’ Highfalutin

September 29, 2016 -

“It is impossible, in our condition of Society, not to be sometimes a Snob.” William Makepeace Thackeray Recently, I’ve become aware I am being referred to as Highfalutin, an Elitist, and a Snob. All those things are, apparently, bad things. In my own work, I suppose I am a bit

Hi fellow directors. I just got in from choir rehearsal and I need to vent and ask for some guidance. Next year I will have been in church music for 30 years, so I think I am pretty experienced. I am at a smaller Methodist church, so the choir is not big. I have choir members skipping rehearsals, saying "I have to work Sunday, so I will not be at rehearsal", I have family plans, etc....you get the point. We have started working on our Christmas music which will be done on Dec. 4th. Can someone gives me advice or direction on how to nicely but firmly tell the choir members that they need to be here. It is like they do not realize that we work on music for a month out. Some churches I have served, I had an attendance policy, but do not think it will work in this situation because I do not have that many voices. I have thought about sending out a letter letting them know what is expected as a choir member without turning anyone off or piss anyone off. Thanks for listening to my frustration and me ranting. Any advice would be so accepted. David Dillard ... See MoreSee Less

11 hours ago

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Caitlín Ní CheallaighAfter every rehearsal go out for pie, coffee, & David/choir time. Everyone will look forward to that... 😉

10 hours ago   ·  3
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Renée Wilson-WickerThere are many ways to go after this. I think aiming toward the pastoral side of how the music ministers to congregation, how we as singers owe our best efforts to God and each other, etc. and that can only happen when we commit our talents and time in rehearsal. Our rehearsals give us the opportunity to glorify God. These are off the cuff thoughts, but it may help provide a direction or inspire an even better idea.

10 hours ago   ·  2
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Tom KlonglerNothing wrong with good 'ol Christian guilt :) Jesus WANTS YOU to come to rehearsal and sing his praise :-D

9 hours ago   ·  2
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Austen WilsonIf they have to work or have a family emergency, there's not much to do. Work on getting communication from them ahead of time. I've had bell choir rehearsals where I've found out that day that a number of ringers couldn't make it. Would I prefer more consistent attendance? Yes! Am I even more thankful they're participating? You better believe it!

9 hours ago
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Vanessa Davis NormanIt is frustrating and, unfortunately, how people live their lives now. I am missing several people on a regular basis. I was hired July 1 at a good-sized church. People are not committed like they were years ago. I have no clue how to curb excuses.

8 hours ago
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Marcia HempelI would try to be patient. Maybe schedule some extra rehearsals or make a practice CD for the person who can't come very much. Even do easier music if you have to. But you need to be able to express how you feel too. But whoever you have, you want to keep.

8 hours ago
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Maestra DeMúsica DivnickHave a heart to heart with them! Most of your members are there because they have a desire to be there (unlike some of the kids in school who are assigned to choir), so you can say to them "listen, I picked this music based on who I have in the choir, but if the choir's membership is different every weekend, then the music won't work." You can ask them to prayerfully consider their commitment to the group, reminding them (of course), that every voice is important and you hope that they all truly can commit, and that the ministry of choir is vital, because w/o music, the church service is quite bland and boring (or however you want to sell it). Or, you can go the positive praise / community building route and each week, say "Oh Nancy, I'm so glad you're here again! We really depend on you in choir. ...Hey, has anyone heard from Bill?" It depends on your personality, of course, as to which one will come off the most sincere and authentic. Good luck - it's definitely a frustrating situation to put so much effort into a group and get a tepid response.

8 hours ago   ·  1
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Kenneth PotterHire professional section leaders. They can carry it off if no one else is there. If your church is the slightest bit uppity mobile they will be late, absent, off on a caribbean cruise, leave you in the lurch. A quartet of dependables will always save your bacon.

8 hours ago   ·  1
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Betsy Baeskens GiriI am not in the church music world, but am curious if interested singers, before joining, are given a written list of norms and/or expectations, and an agreement to sign? Maybe that sort of thing isn't done in church choirs, but I, for one, always do better when I know exactly what is expected of me. To my mind, it is just common courtesy, respect, and decency to honor commitments....maybe they really don't know how much it matters that everyone is there at the same time. Sorry for your frustration.

7 hours ago
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Jed LevineMeet with the whole group to establish a covenant that all can/will agree to. Emphasize that their responsibility is not only to you but to each other and to the congregation they serve.

7 hours ago
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Howell Riano Punay

7 hours ago
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Richard HugginsMake a DVD. Start w a close up of you (and accomp) rehearsing something. As the cam pulls back we see that no one is there! Cross fade to you at your desk laughingly saying something "ok , that was kinda extreme, but...." and then go on to talk about the imp of strong reh attendance, working on several services each week, etc Also strengthen the fellowship aspect with occasional choir parties, carve out some after-rehearsal fellowship ("Cakes My Momma Taught Me") etc. so that they just wouldn't want to miss. A card to absentees (NOT emails) is work but delivers the message that they were noted and missed and has a personal touch.

6 hours ago
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Amber Day SumnerDavid, I also direct a small choir in a small Methodist church and I feel your pain! My rehearsal attendance ranges from 6-14 depending on who's sick, out of town, working late, etc. To a certain extent it's unavoidable when you're dealing with a volunteer group, as you know. I start each season with a printed list of my goals and expectations, on bright neon paper that they keep in their folders, and I periodically spend some time talking about our important role in worship and how difficult it is to grow as an ensemble without consistent attendance. I also make constant reminders about letting me know about planned absences so I can choose appropriate music. One thing I've had to break myself of is repeating too much of what was covered at a previous rehearsal for those who missed it. I make study tracks available online, so if you weren't here when we worked out the notes on the second verse it's your job to catch up outside of rehearsal. A consistent routine of working on many pieces beyond the next anthem, fun warm-ups, and time for fellowship also helps to encourage regular attendance. Two years ago I tried to do Rutter's "What Sweeter Music," and last year it was Lauridsen's "O Magnum Mysterium." Both were certainly within our capability... if I had perfect attendance from everyone for eight or ten weeks leading up to Christmas. I learned, after scrapping my grand plans for something less ambitious, that it's far better to do a simpler piece well than to stress myself out and get frustrated because I want more out of my singers than they're willing to give. Instead I try now to stick to pieces they can learn in 3-4 rehearsals for the most part. Appeal to their role as worship leaders and their desire to sound better, and remind them of the importance of each of their individual contributions, but don't rely on perfect attendance that you know you won't get. It's a very tough balancing act and my prayers are with you!

4 hours ago
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Graham LackRehearse in people's homes on a round robin basis?

3 hours ago
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S Timothy GlasscockWe have a quartet of section leaders, (not that THEY don't sometimes have to miss😳) but it does help getting things together.

39 minutes ago
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