July 7, 2013 at 4:50 pm #420632
Clay OglesbyParticipantI serve at a small-er-ish Methodist Church (we average about 90) that has long placed a lot of importance on the ministry of music. The church has always had a very good choir, being blessed with a larger number of naturally talented and well educated singers than normal for a church it’s size and has gotten used to a high level of quality from the choir. In recent years, due to shrinking of the congregation (six years ago we were averaging 110-115) for various reasons (marriage, death, moving closer to children/grandchildren or aging parents, new jobs) the choir has lost a considerable amount of size in the soprano and tenor sections, to the point where when I lose one of my sopranos at the end of the month (she’s moving to be closer to her grandchildren) I’m going to be faced with some serious problems. We’re also currently plagued with so many members working on Sundays, caring for parents and children, and being busy with school work that there’s much less consistancy during years past. The church recently inherited a fairly large sum of money from the estate of a former member, and I’m thinking about seeing about having part of that put in a fund to be used to pay in some ringers/interns/section leaders for the choir. Does anyone have experience with this sort of thing? I’m in need of advice and would love to go in to the board meeting prepared to answer all questions.Thanks so much,ClayJuly 7, 2013 at 11:58 pm #420653
Good luck, Clay,
I am leading 2 vocal bodies in Prague,, Czech republic, with the repertoire of spirituals, Hebrew songs and songs from Taizé. We are not bound to any church even though we sing only spirituasl music, our aim is to do it in very good quality. My experience is that obeing church rules presses the approach of members (reponsibility too sing), down. Threfore I prefer to ber independent. But that means I have no any background, any fund behind. Consider if my effort (see below addresses) in our secular country (the Czech Republic) is effective :-). I wish you find your singers.
I play with the idea to become employed by some congregation (as the existence of each group have anyway very similar development: singers move, get married, go for a job, get ill, even die :-(and you are all the time facing the task to keep the quality (or even improve – that I prefer), which is really great challenge, requiring above standard personality 🙂
I publlished songbooks:
– American Spirituals Acaspella (17 spirituals SATB)
– 3 song for happening REMEMBER! (Hatikva, Shema Yisrael, Czech National Anthem Acappella SATB)
– Czech and Slovak National Songs Acappella (40 national songs SATB)
– 50 Spiritual of Hope (guitar and singer, with my Czech lyrics) – published to 50th Anniversary of ML.King´s Speach “I HAVE A DREAM”
I am organizor of the national hapening REMEMBR! (the victims of the biggest mass murder in the history of our country). Over 10.000 people murdered during 3 nights in Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in 1944.
I am organizer of the campaign “LET FREEDOM RING” inspiring choirs to celebrate the 50th anniversary of M.L.King´ speach I HAVE A DREAM by concerts of spirituals.
I wish you solve the situation of your choir succesfully (I would prefer the word “well”:-)July 8, 2013 at 12:15 pm #420693
Jay LaneParticipantAt my church (in the Boston suburbs) we pay $100 per week for a section leader who comes to Thursday night rehearsal and Sunday morning; rates may be different where you are. In some places, you can get a student from a local conservatory to do this. Some churches audition high school students for a “choral scholar” position, where they are paid a small amount to be a section leader–the assumption is that it is also helpful for their development as a musician.Good luck!Jay LaneJuly 9, 2013 at 8:33 am #420777
Ronald Richard DuquetteParticipantClay – A couple of thoughts:1. At Fort Belvoir, where I direct the “traditional” (only insofar as we’re not limited to doing just contemporary music) choir, we have four paid section leaders (we JUST got an alto section leader signed up in June, for a contract starting in October). The reason I wanted to do that, after I became the director 8 years ago, is that you have at least the four voice parts pretty much guaranteed for each service that they’re paid to sing. In addition, they are the “magnet” to which the “filings” of volunteer singers can come and coalesce with, thereby increasing not only the quality of their music-making, but the number of the choir as a whole. Though I cannot show a direct correlation to that last point in terms of the numbers, we can manage some 20 or so if we need to and, with the addition of an a cappella group I formed with other folks a dozen years ago, we actually have taken ourselves to other places to sing in the local area and thus, be useful to other organizations and churches who, wanting a choir but not having one, now has a richer worship experience.2. A practical matter: make sure you have control of the money from this estate if this is the way it’s going to be used – and that it stays out of the hands of the church’s administrators. If you don’t assure that, the same thing as what has happened to the funding for the Social Security Administration by various administrations along the way will occur – they’ll dip into it to meet “current expenses” with a promissory note to repay that never is.RonJuly 9, 2013 at 12:41 pm #420807
Maggie FurtakParticipantHi Clay,I am a paid section leader/soloist for a church in the Boston area, so if you have any questions that I could answer from the other side of the experience, please ask.For our church, having four paid section leaders means being able to perform some more difficult music than we could otherwise tackle, and reliably having all four voice parts represented when choir members are all going out of town for school vacation week, etc. And of course, because we are paid, the director can give us homework, (like working up a solo for the next time lots of choristers will be away), which you can’t neccessarily do for the rest of the choir. And being able to up the ante on your music selection does seem to help attract new choir members, particularly younger members, since grad students are often the people applying for soloist positions.Go for it!-Maggie FurtakJuly 9, 2013 at 11:35 pm #420857
Dale McCurdyParticipantAt my church I call the paid singers “scholarship singers.” Many people find it difficult to vote against a scholarship.When asked what they do I say “we provide a small stipend to allow the singers to continue their studies and gain experience. In reurn they help the choir members provide music for the service.”
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