Youth Choir

Go-To Warm-Up Resources for Busy Choir Directors

Go-To Warm-Up Resources for Busy Choir Directors

Warm-ups for choirs are like stretches for athletes: they help prepare the muscles and engage the mind for focused, active work.

But more than simply warming up the voice and preparing to sing, choral warm-ups are a practical way to prepare and introduce new musical skills and concepts before singing them in the context of a piece of music. This not only saves you time in rehearsal, but it also creates a more cohesive learning experience for your choir members.

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.

A Fun and Rewarding Experience for Your Youth Choir This Season

A Fun and Rewarding Experience for Your Youth Choir This Season

Whew! Take a breath.

It’s that time of year again. We are rushing to get music learned, behavior modified, costumes made, lines learned, food prepared, and everything cleaned. Rushing to the manger, with a little chaos, a lot of excitement, and, hopefully, the right spirit.

This is the time of year that we do a lot of outreach (especially in the “assisted living” department), so I want to share with you an idea that we found to be fun and surprisingly rewarding.

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.

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.

Breathing Exercises for Choirs of All Ages

Breathing Exercises for Choirs of All Ages

Breathing is a vital component of singing.

But the way we breathe when singing is different than the way we breathe in everyday life, requiring us to use our respiratory muscles in new and different ways.

The goal when singing is to have breath control and good breath support.

Breath control means being able to inhale quickly and exhale slowly throughout the phrase while maintaining good posture. (source)

Breath support means using other muscles (e.g. abdomen, back) to support the work of the lungs and foster better tone production and the ability to sing longer phrases. (source)

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