How to Organize a Church Choir 5 - Giving Quality Music Each Time .
What is good quality music at church?
Good quality music is instrumental or vocal music that would be considered of a satisfactory standard anywhere in the world even if the style of the piece is not a listener’s favourite.
Make beautiful music -together
What should I do to ensure that we produce good quality music all the time at church?
1. The team must have faith in themselves and commit to quality.
If your choir team can agree that their songs should be of a high standard when presented then you can move ahead and make progress.
If you have members who feel that the choir is a place for embracing all of God’s children and so you should not demand improvements in their singing or playing skills, then tear your garments now and weep, for this type of thinking is more interested in satisfying their hobby of music than in actually serving quality music to the listeners. Try praying them over to the ushers team. Okay, I'm kidding, but seriously you have your work cut out for you.
2. Ask the team for Team Spirit.
Ask your choir to support the team by being willing to accept correction when it is given.
3. If the vocals do not sound ‘together’
•Someone too loud? Record the section. Play the evidence. Then ask them to tone their volume down a lot. Record it and play back to show the change. Be encouraging. Both of you persevere.
•Someone suddenly off key? Check if they are in the right vocal part for that song. If they sing the song okay on a key of their choice then they might need to switch parts up or down for that particular song or sit that song out.
• Someone always off key? Ask them to mime sing and listen to others around them. This means making no audible sound. As they do this over some months they will develop their ability to sing along with the team. If you have up to seven people or more in your choir, no one in the pews needs to know that one of the singers is not actually making a sound.
4. When instruments sound ‘off’
•If the instrumentalists are not very skilled, then give them a LOT of advance notice about songs you want them to accompany. Do your instrumentalists play by ear? No problem. A simple three-chord accompaniment is fine when well rehearsed.
•Keep the songs to a manageable number for them to perfect whether they use sheet music or play by ear.
•Rehearse and present other songs Acapella (without instruments).
5. All the musicians, vocalists and instrumentalists, need to practice a lot. Till each piece is perfect.
So do not choose a song that is too challenging for the team. You might like playing that song in your car but if your entire choir can’t produce it like that for now, choose something you can do, and that you all sound great at.
6. The value of recording and playing back.
•Recording and playing back is one of the most useful tools for improving team sound.
•At rehearsals, the songs could be recorded on phones or recorders and played back. It is amazing how helpful the feedback from a raw recording can be.
•Vocalists can hear what needs fixing. Ask your vocalists to record short bits of songs at home, then they should listen to their clips and note down what they observe.
•Some altos and tenors naturally find themselves harmonising. If their musical colouring works, keep it. If it does not sound right, change it or leave it out. If the harmoniser feels out of harmony with your decision, record it, play it back for the team and ask if it’s great or just okay. If you agree it’s not great, leave it out.
Present your songs when they are finished and ready. Ready because they are of a good quality.
Photo Credits and what's next.
Thanks to Gavin Llewellyn for the photo Defining Targets Differently.
Next hub in this series:
How to Organize a Church Choir 6 - dealing with difficult personalities .