Church Music

The Dos and Don'ts of Directing a Church Choir

The Dos and Don'ts of Directing a Church Choir

It’s true with anything in life: There are some things you should do and some things you probably shouldn’t do.

It’s like the Goofus and Gallant comic strip that appeared in my monthly Highlights magazine growing up (classic Enneagram no. 1 here—I’ve always had a strong sense of right vs. wrong).

In the comic, two panels compare and contrast the actions of two brothers: Gallant's actions were kind and morally good while Goofus’s actions were thoughtless and disrespectful. It’s a classic example of right vs. wrong, good vs. bad, dos and don’ts.

We can relate, can’t we?

5 Creative Ways to Spruce Up Your Hymn-Playing

5 Creative Ways to Spruce Up Your Hymn-Playing

As a church musician, you know the struggle:

You have numerous opportunities to use hymn arrangements and creative hymn-playing techniques in worship (like, multiple times in every service!), but access to hymn harmonizations and published resources is limited, and in some cases, they aren’t available at all.

The good news is, you don’t need to rely solely on published resources to add creative hymn arrangements and harmonizations into your service-playing.

You can learn to do some of this yourself!

With a few easy-to-use strategies and a quick refresher on those 8 a.m. college theory classes, you’ll be creating your own artful hymn arrangements in no time.

Ready to get started? Mix up your approach to hymn-playing this month with these 5 creative strategies:

How to Use Choral Service Music in Worship: A Few FAQs

How to Use Choral Service Music in Worship: A Few FAQs

There’s something to be said about the power of music in worship: the ability to imbue an experience with meaning, inspire the hearts and minds of those listening, create space for personal reflection, and offer an opportunity for transcendence.

Yes, it’s functional and it provides a nice contrast to the spoken word, but music has an inherent ability to create meaningful, shared experiences, as well.

This is why service music is such a powerful tool in worship planning.

Today, I’m delving into a few FAQs about choral service music, specifically: what it is, why it’s important, how to use it, and where to find it.

A Mighty Fortress & Other Favorites: New Anthems for Fall

A Mighty Fortress & Other Favorites: New Anthems for Fall

I love discovering new anthems, don’t you?

I love seeing how composers come up with new ideas or reuse existing material - creating something new from an old hymn tune or setting a hymn text to an original melody.

Over the summer, I shared my “Reading Session Picks” for adult choirs, youth choirs, and children’s choir - new (or new-ish) anthems I encountered in choral reading sessions at Music and Worship Arts Week and liked enough to recommend to you here.

Today, I want to share a few more recommendations, perhaps well-suited for an adult or youth ensemble or an intergenerational group of some kind.

The anthems on this list would be perfect for Fall, either Thanksgiving season or during Advent.

Classic Anthems Every Church Choir Should Sing

Classic Anthems Every Church Choir Should Sing

Some anthems are just classics.

They’re timeless - not bound by a particular era, not tied to a particular movement or trend in choral literature or church history, not limited to a particular style or context. Some anthems are able to transcend those things and fit equally well in a worship service today as they did 30 years ago.

So, I started taking notes.

The anthems on this list are drawn from my own choir experiences in Methodist, Presbyterian, and Congregational churches. These are titles that have shown up in multiple church music libraries through the years - the ones that bring you back to all the times and places you’ve sung it before.

4 Strategies to Help Your Adult Choir Improve Their Sight-Reading Skills

4 Strategies to Help Your Adult Choir Improve Their Sight-Reading Skills

It's one the greatest musical skills you can help your choir develop: singing and reading music for themselves with musical understanding.

Just like learning to read language, music-reading comes after listening and interacting with music aurally and developing a musical vocabulary of tonal and rhythm patterns (these are like words in language).

Think of how you learned to read: You probably spent a lot of time following along in a book as you listened to someone else read to you.

Eventually, you started finishing the sentences and pointing to the words as you went along.

You learned simple words like, go and dog and started being able to identify them in the context of other books.

Learning to read music is no different. We learn to recognize tonal and rhythm patterns like familiar words in books.

10 Icebreakers Your Adult Choir Will Love

10 Icebreakers Your Adult Choir Will Love

Looking for a fun, creative way to start the choir year? Consider hosting a kick-off party or retreat.

This is a time to celebrate the start of a new season, welcome both returning and new members, and get a head start on all the music you have picked out for the months ahead (P.S. Christmas is only 19 weeks away!).

Whether you’re hosting a full-day retreat, a Saturday morning workshop, or extending your first midweek rehearsal (perhaps with dinner beforehand), make sure to plan a few hours of dedicated rehearsal time (including warm-ups!) plus some time for fellowship.

The Back-to-Choir Guide for Church Musicians

The Back-to-Choir Guide for Church Musicians

It’s the most wonderful time of the year - back-to-school season, that is!

Even though I’m not a student anymore, as a teacher, I love the fresh-start feeling that comes with a new academic year (including new school supplies!).

And the same is true in church settings when choir and ensembles start back up.

But getting back into that weekly rehearsal routine after a long summer hiatus can be challenging, and making sure you’re prepared and ready for that first week back can be a daunting task, particularly if you procrastinated on some of those things on your summer to-do list:

2019 Reading Session Picks: Adult Choir

2019 Reading Session Picks: Adult Choir

This is one of my favorite posts to write each summer.

For the past several weeks, I’ve been reviewing literally hundreds of new choral releases and distilling them down to the 18 you’ll find on this list (+ a few other lists that I’ll be sharing over the next few weeks).

You should have seen how much music was in my suitcase coming back from Music and Worship Arts Week!

Today’s post is for adult church choirs.

I compiled my favorite new (or new-ish) anthems from 8+ reading sessions into a simple, readable guide that makes choosing new music for your choir a much easier (and less daunting) task.

What to Sing with Your Summer Choir

What to Sing with Your Summer Choir

So, you’ve decided to have a summer choir. 😊

You’ve invited your current choir members and put the word out to others in the congregation who might be interested. Now, it’s time to figure out what you’re going to sing each week.

Depending on how you structure your summer choir, you may have a general sense of how many people you’ll have each week (and how many parts you’ll have covered). But, if you’re leaving it more open and letting people show up without RSVPing ahead of time, choosing music can be a bit more complicated.

Related post: Three Ways to Have a Summer Choir (+ How to Make the Most of Your Time Together)

You need anthems that are:

  • singable and intuitive

  • written in an accessible way

  • easy to learn