Some tips for choir directors

I have been in many ward choirs.  These are some pointers I have that I believe can apply to every choir director.  I appreciate all choir directors, and I am glad they take their time to serve us.  I certainly do not have the skill to do what they do, and I appreciate their selfless service.  Nevertheless, I believe some improvements could be easily made.  But if you are a choir director please do not take anything personally or as an attack — especially if you are one of my own current or past choir directors!  In other words, these are written more for humor than anything else.  If you do not find it funny, stop reading.

  1. End choir practice at the scheduled time, and not a minute later.  Consider ending early if you are at a convenient stopping place.
  2. One or two people do not constitute a majority.  When you ask “Shall we sing it one more time?” and only one or two people respond affirmatively, that means that everyone else is silently responding “no”.  Ditto for “Do you want to stand?”
  3. Leaning over a first row choir member to conduct directly to the third row makes people nervous.
  4. Don’t specifically invite “all members, including those who can’t sing” to choir.  Those who can sing become less enthused about attending themselves.  Choirs should sound pleasant.
  5. Consider singing the music as it is written.  It is perfectly acceptable to sing a hymn out of the book without stuffing as much variety as possible (or more so!) into the verses with unison/parts/harmony or new verses. 
  6. If you have limited practice time before the performance, consider simplifying the selection before you call an extra weeknight rehearsal.
  7. Never, never say “Let’s sing it just once more(, I promise).”  I have never met a choir director who lived up to that promise even once, so do not even pretend you will live up to it.  You tease us with the concept of getting home to eat, then we practice the piece three more times.
  8. Give the choir time to talk to each other.  Singing can be an inspiring experience, and singing with people you know and love greatly enhances that.  Just two or three minutes per rehearsal of “talk with your neighbor” time can go a long way to putting smiles on the choir’s faces both for rehearsals and for performances.  We will probably pay more attention when you are talking as well.
  9. When working with a small section of the choir, invite the others to sit down.
  10. Do not ask us whether we want to sit with the congregation or in the choir loft for the rest of the meeting.  We will be divided anyway, just tell us what to do.  We will do what you say.

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