youth choir

20 Tips for Working with High School Youth Choirs

20 Tips for Working with High School Youth Choirs

As a youth choir director, you know what it’s like to balance the responsibilities of being a teacher and a friend, a spiritual leader and confidant.

You know the challenges and rewards of building community and creating a safe, supportive environment where all can be seen and heard and valued.

But how do you approach musical growth and development at this age? How do you handle the unpredictability of changing voices? In the age of smartphones and short attention spans, how do you keep them focused and engaged during rehearsals?

Here are a few helpful tips for working with 9th-12th grade singers:

2018 Reading Session Picks: Youth Choir

2018 Reading Session Picks: Youth Choir

A few weeks ago, I shared my reading session picks for adult choirs - 12 new (or new-ish) anthems with good texts, singable lines, and interesting accompaniments, where applicable. Read it here, in case you missed it.

Next in this series is anthems you can use with your youth choir.

Now, youth choir can be tricky, depending on the size of your group and the ages you're working with (middle-school-age singers vs. senior high singers). As such, I tried to include a mix of things on this list: some SATB, some SAB, and even a 2-part anthem for those of you with smaller or younger groups.

Top 25 Favorite Anthems for Intergenerational Choirs

Top 25 Favorite Anthems for Intergenerational Choirs

There’s something special about an intergenerational choir: the coming together of people of all ages and walks of life to share music and lift their voices in song. It sends a message of unity and inclusivity and I think it gives us a little glimpse of what heaven might be like, singing in the angel choir.

Intergenerational choirs are a great way to celebrate something special in the life of the church - an anniversary or special service. The easiest way to create this experience is to combine groups you already have. There are a number of ways to do this.

Surprise Me! Planning a Mystery Destination Youth Choir Tour

Surprise Me! Planning a Mystery Destination Youth Choir Tour

Hi friends!

Today, I'm featuring a dear friend and church musician extraordinaire, Janis Maxwell. Janis is Director of Youth Music Ministry and Organist at Athens First United Methodist in Athens, GA (Go Dawgs!). When it comes to youth choir and youth ministry, she is a wealth of knowledge and creative ideas and I know you'll love what she has to share.

Have a topic you'd like her to write about in the future? Leave a comment at the end of this post! - Ashley

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We are pretty traditional in my current church setting, and we “do” youth choir pretty much the same way churches have “done” youth choir for the past thirty years. We rehearse on Sundays, sing in worship, sing in the community, and take a summer choir tour. Just typing this out makes me feel in need of a makeover!

This year we shook things up a bit with a Mystery Destination Choir Tour. I don’t know who came up with this idea, but I have several friends who have tried it and loved it, so this year it was my turn. The kids were not thrilled. Actually, they were really good sports about it, but I have discovered that they are not used to the idea of Surprise.

2017 Reading Session Picks: Ensemble

2017 Reading Session Picks: Ensemble

When I have the opportunity to sit in on reading sessions, I’m keeping an eye out for any good anthem - whatever the voicing might be. If it has good text, is well-crafted musically and artistically, and is versatile enough to be used more than one Sunday out of the year, I make a note of it.

Everyone has their own rating system for this - some use a check-plus, check, check-minus system, others use smiley faces (with teeth, without teeth, indifferent, sad). To each their own, right?

Anyway, once I get back home with the anthems I saved, I divide them up into piles for easy list-making and cataloging later: Adult Choir, Youth, Children’s Choir, and Ensemble.

I’ve already shared my lists for adult choir and children’s choir; today, I’m sharing a few pieces I think would work well for an adult or youth ensemble. Enjoy!

75 Hymns that Teach Musical Concepts

75 Hymns that Teach Musical Concepts

"When we sing a hymn, we are singing history." - Paul Lusher (source) 

Hymn-singing is a tradition that spans the centuries, uniting us with believers in the past, present, and future. But I believe hymns are more than historical relics. Here are three primary things I think we can learn from hymns still today:

Church Heritage

There's so much history and tradition embedded in hymns. We carry on a piece of that legacy when we come together for worship and sing the same hymns that others have sung for hundreds of years. And at the same time, we're preserving important parts of music history: "Much of the musical heritage of the church is encountered in hymnology: such forms as plainsong, chorale, psalm tune, and gospel hymn." - Hanna Katja Elina Powell (source)

Tips for Working with Changing Voices in Youth Choir

Tips for Working with Changing Voices in Youth Choir

Voice change.

It's one of the unique aspects of working with a middle school or high school youth choir and it's a process - one that takes understanding, patience, and flexibility.

Voice change occurs during adolescence when the larynx and vocal cords lengthen and thicken (source). For boys, the change is dramatic; for girls, more subtle. However, it is important to recognize the changes that occur in all voices and ways to encourage and support singers throughout the process (and keep them singing!).

Encouragement is vital to the process. Do what you can to make singers feel comfortable experimenting and trying things, help them learn how to be flexible and support one another throughout the process.

Flash Mobs and Other Creative Ways to Come Together in Worship

Flash Mobs and Other Creative Ways to Come Together in Worship

It's been a tough few weeks in the world. Mass shootings. Acts of terror. Racial injustice. Social injustice. Discrimination. Fear. Hatred.

Again and again we find ourselves here - a hurting, broken people - fighting to break the silence, tear down the walls that divide us, preach the Gospel of love over and over.

This is part of our ministry in church music, I believe. We are the messengers, the ambassadors, the peace-makers and the hope-bringers. We are God's instruments of peace. What a privilege - what a responsibility.

Now, more than ever, we need to come together. We need to unite - our hearts and hands and voices - in proclaiming God's message of love and light and doing His work in the world.

"For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" - Esther 4:14

2016 Reading Session Picks: Youth Choir

2016 Reading Session Picks: Youth Choir

Last week at Music and Worship Arts Week, I joined numerous others (choir directors, singers, organists, etc.) at a series of choral reading sessions.

When I look for youth choir anthems, I look for relevant, meaningful text and beautiful, well-crafted music (here's an inside look at my process). I look for anthems that will inspire and encourage adolescent singers and connect with their faith.

Several publishers (Hope, Alfred, Beckenhorst, GIA, Hinshaw, Lorenz, etc.) were on-site to present the newest offerings from their catalogs and the choral clinicians for the week presented their own reading sessions of their favorite works.

As such, today's post includes a mix of old and new, classic and modern, traditional and more contemporary anthems. (See my reading session picks for adult choir here.) There's also a mix of voicings - everything from unison/2-part up to SATB, depending on the number of voices you have and the level of your group.

I hope you find something meaningful to and accessible for your choir

How to Choose Music for Your Choir: An Inside Look at My Process

How to Choose Music for Your Choir: An Inside Look at My Process

It's that time of the year again - the time when choir directors everywhere begin choosing music for next year!

From conferences to reading sessions to the seasonal reading packets in your mailbox, the stack of anthems, catalogs, and listening CDs on your desk at any given time can get overwhelming.

Where to begin? Is there a method to this madness?

As a quintessential Type A individual, I believe there is a method for every madness, anthem selection included! Today, I'm sharing an inside look at my process - my selection criteria, the things I take into consideration, and questions I ask myself along the way.

Whether you're choosing music for an adult choir, youth choir, or children's choir, I hope you find this insight useful and beneficial to your ministry.

Let's get started