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Worship Choir Vs. Traditional

Hi All:  Reaching out there to see what others might advise....
 
I have a traditional choral music training (MM degree) and have worked at the high school level and the college level and I currently finding myself working with the choir at the church that I am attending.  The music director is a former Christian rock musician and the church focuses solely on contemporary repetoire.  I am finding myself like a "fish out of water" since I do enjoy that style of music I don't know of many resources to find music, nor have I had the training on that style.  I found some things on Word music's website but all the music needs to be approved by the director and he has very specific ideas of what he wants... I also have a very inexperienced (although enthusiastic!) choir that I am dealing with that only has about 3 readers and is about 30 strong.  So wondering if anyone know of where I can get resources for this kind of situation and especially resources in training mostly middle aged, non pop singers to try and sing that style?  Thanks! 
Replies (11): Threaded | Chronological
on February 11, 2013 4:42pm
I would recommend you check out www.praisecharts.com.  You do have to purchase the music, but it is all available to download and is typically arranged for 3 or 4 parts with band and lead sheets or keyboard charts.   Way easier than transcribing it yourself if you have $10 to spend.
 
As far as working with the style, you could just teach the choir the chorus of the song if you are working with a Worship Leader who sings the verses.  If not, you can split the ensemble into a praise team and basically backup choir to accomplish the same thing.  Put your three readers on the verses and have the full choir sing just the chorus.  You could have them sing a verse unison to kind of mix it up, too.
 
Training middle aged singers to sing the pop is an adventure.  I usually just sing it for them and they copy me.  I may ask them to march while they are getting the syncopated rhythms down as this can be tough.     
 
Hope that helps a bit!
Applauded by an audience of 1
on February 11, 2013 5:44pm
Thanks for the replies!!!
 
Rebecca:  Yes, I can read the lead sheets, we have a full band with acoustic guitar, bass and drums, keys are sometime there.  I agree about the hymns but the worship pastor doesn't really like that "style"... he seems to lean towards the more gospel feel (think Brooklyn Tab or Isreal Houghton style) and that is what he would like to do.  The problem is that I don't feel that this particular group of singers will "get" the feel of that so was looking for resources that would help me to teach that OR finding similar style rep that is less complicated rhythmically.  I will check out the Worshiptogether and the CCLI... thanks!
 
Scott:  I am just starting this particular situation and trying to feel out what the music pastor actually wants from this group.   He keeps using, powerful, fun, and other non-descript terms to say what his vision is.  But I believe that the predominate focus is leading the songs from the front, so in other words, a small subset of what the congregation is doing.  Encouraging the congregation to sing out more and add energy into the songs.  The worship leader will still be singing the melody when the choir will be singing the melody with harmony (trying to do at least 3 parts!) of the same song so it isn't a "performance".  Regarding style you can see what I mentioned about to Rebecca.... The worship pastor just keeps mentioning that he likes things "fresh" whatever that might mean I am not too sure?!?!  I think that is why he didn't like the Word Music examples that I sent him... like you said they tend to be "square".   In all honesty I don't have time to write out music and figure parts with a full time teaching job .... but, it seems that might be one of the best options??
on February 12, 2013 5:44am
Don't you love working with people who don't know how to describe what they want?  Definitely been there, and I know how frustrating it is....
 
Sorry, Kelly, I saw "Christian rock" and assumed that was sort of the style you're going for; the CCLI and Worshiptogether websites feature music that is generally more pop or rock oriented.  If you want an easy gospel piece, I have a few suggestions that I've done (like you, I had an older choir that didn't quite get the feel of gospel, so I didn't do it often):
 
Shine On Me by Rollo Dillworth - you can find this in 2 or 3 part, and it's essentially a partner song, so it's super easy.
 
Praise His Holy Name by Keith Hampton (publisher is earthsongs, I think) - this is another easy-ish one for a choir, in that it's very repetitive; it has a few tricky rhythmic spots but I did it once with a festival choir made up of church singers mostly over the age of 40, and it worked well.
 
Siyahamba - don't know the composer on this one, but it's a fairly well-known African tune.  Very easy part-singing, repetitive.  Search on youtube or ask the music pastor if he already has the sheet music.
 
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms - arr. Geordie Roberts, Cypress Choral Music pub.  This is SAB, and trickier than the others, but it is really fun!
 
Also, if you decide that Christian contemporary is an okay genre, too, then you should check out Keith and Krystin Getty.  They call themselves modern hymnwriters, and they have some AWESOME songs, like In Christ Alone, By Faith, and many others.
on February 12, 2013 5:44am
Don't you love working with people who don't know how to describe what they want?  Definitely been there, and I know how frustrating it is....
 
Sorry, Kelly, I saw "Christian rock" and assumed that was sort of the style you're going for; the CCLI and Worshiptogether websites feature music that is generally more pop or rock oriented.  If you want an easy gospel piece, I have a few suggestions that I've done (like you, I had an older choir that didn't quite get the feel of gospel, so I didn't do it often):
 
Shine On Me by Rollo Dillworth - you can find this in 2 or 3 part, and it's essentially a partner song, so it's super easy.
 
Praise His Holy Name by Keith Hampton (publisher is earthsongs, I think) - this is another easy-ish one for a choir, in that it's very repetitive; it has a few tricky rhythmic spots but I did it once with a festival choir made up of church singers mostly over the age of 40, and it worked well.
 
Siyahamba - don't know the composer on this one, but it's a fairly well-known African tune.  Very easy part-singing, repetitive.  Search on youtube or ask the music pastor if he already has the sheet music.
 
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms - arr. Geordie Roberts, Cypress Choral Music pub.  This is SAB, and trickier than the others, but it is really fun!
 
Also, if you decide that Christian contemporary is an okay genre, too, then you should check out Keith and Krystin Getty.  They call themselves modern hymnwriters, and they have some AWESOME songs, like In Christ Alone, By Faith, and many others.
on February 12, 2013 6:23am
Doreen Rao did my favorite arrangement of Siyahamba.  Hal Hopson also has one, I believe, among others.
 
Alex Mejias has some wonderful stuff on High Street Hymns.  Latest CD is titled Love Lives Again.  You can find it on YouTube, Itunes, or the HSH web site.  Charts are available for some pieces.  May not be what you are looking for but it is very fresh and crosses styles often using great texts re-set.  My new favorite 'contemporary' piece is his setting of None Other Lamb.
on February 11, 2013 9:17pm
Hi Kelly, 
 
Would you mind telling us the denomination your church?
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