Conference Morsel: Strategies for Smaller Church Choirs
Date: May 23, 2014
(An excerpt from the interest session “Where 10 or 12 Are Gathered: Strategies for Smaller Church Choirs,” presented by Matt Caine during the 2014 ACDA Southern Division Conference)
. . . In any of these situations you may have to help the choir develop a new vision, but in the case of the has-been church, in order to be successful, one of the primary goals will be helping the choir to create a new vision of choir. With all their being, they want to be the 40 to 80 voice choir they once were; they want to perform Brahms’ Requiem and works of that level of difficulty two or more times per year; they want to sing warhorse anthems like Parry’s I Was Glad every Sunday; and anything short of these experiences constitutes failure. Thus, they are living in a constant state of failure. One must help them create a new definition of choir and a new vision so that they can then experience the success they are capable of and actually be able to recognize and celebrate it as success.
While creating the new vision, it is good to remind the choir and one’s own self of the church choir’s primary responsibility: to lead congregational singing, with its secondary responsibility being to sing music to help others worship through listening. Most conductors spend so much time rehearsing anthems that they fail to adequately prepare the choir for its number one responsibility: leading congregational singing. Rather than being the leftover portion of choral preparation, this should be a starting point. Since hymns are where many, if not all, of your singers have developed their vocal technique, many sing hymns poorly . . .