How Can We Build a Church Choir?
In an earlier era, congregations found it possible to have Sunday morning and
Sunday evening services, Wednesday prayer services, Tuesday home visiting … and
choir practice for some members at still another time of the week. But adults
and children now find themselves engaged in numerous activities. Not being able
to make time for participation in a church choir is just one casualty of our
Still, there are some basic principles that will increase the chances that
you CAN build a choir.
What does it take to “get a choir going?”
- A director – find a musician within the congregation (possibly a
school music teacher?) who can relate to people with both good-humor and
motivation. There are lots of resources that a new church choir director can tap
to build musical skills, but personality is also a characteristic that will help
a choir become a family.
- A rehearsal time – it might be wise to identify a critical mass
(preferably including at least one music-reader per part) with an agreed-upon
time rehearsal time. Even forming a quartet as a start can be a “marketing
strategy,” From the starter group, use social events, each-one-bring-one, etc.
as ways to grow the choir.
- Music – By knowing the range of musical tastes of the congregation
(and the choir members) it will be possible to select music that will be
enjoyable to sing. Other critical factors for music selection include
appropriate difficulty level and theological integrity (simplify with definition
or other choice of word). Always purchase enough copies of the
music – it is illegal to photocopy music EVEN for use in a church!
- An accompanist – Choirs can sing with a variety of instruments
(piano, guitar, organ, electronic keyboard, or even pre-recorded accompaniment)
but using some keyboard instrument for rehearsals can be a great help for
teaching & learning individual parts. My personal preference is for “live”
accompaniment so that the musicians can respond to the Spirit together and not
be bound by the pre-recorded dynamics, timings, etc. of CD’s or tapes.
- A sense of mission – Choir members can benefit tremendously as they
learn the music, the theology, and the message of the text. Including prayer to
begin each rehearsal is also an important tool to keep the focus on unity,
ministry, and Christian fellowship.
- A sense of accomplishment – Choirs need to appreciate that they are
a meaningful part of worship. They need to be commended as they study, learn,
and grow in musicality and unity. The affective rewards of participating in a
choir can be tremendously motivating, so design a plan to ensure there will be
successes… and then make sure to celebrate and praise the efforts!
- Have fun! A business-like approach to learning music is a good
thing, but choir members will also appreciate an atmosphere of fun and
fellowship. A sense of humor during the rehearsal AND social activity connected
to rehearsals and/or in special events (e.g. a choir picnic) are tools for
The list of strategies that will help build the choir is extensive (e.g.
having an “organizer” who is willing to call & invite participants, follow up if
someone misses a rehearsal, uses an email list). Below are a few web sites that
may also help. Contact other congregations of the Community of Christ with
similar characteristics that already have choirs to find out what strategies
have worked for them and what kind of music they have enjoyed learning and
The experience of building a choir will be enriching both to the worship
experience of the congregation and to the personal and spiritual lives of the
Start a Choir – the E-Magazine:
How to Build and Motivate Your Choir:
How to Start a Children’s Choir:
So You Want to Start a Children’s Choir?
- How to Form a Choir in Ten Not-So-Easy Steps
If you have suggestions or ideas for future columns, please contact:
Principal Organist and Director of Music
Community of Christ Headquarters
Independence, MO, USA
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