the old choir director keeps on trying to get people to join the choir

musicians 010-2

There’s no getting around it. Church music is on my mind. This morning I read a bit but quickly became distracted by the task I have given myself this morning. In addition to submitting the weekly music for the bulletin, I want to write an announcement to inform and encourage parishioners to join the choirs at Grace.

Recruitment is something I don’t feel very good at. This is complicated by the environment people live in and create for themselves these days. People are busy. Though they have more and more things to do with their time, they are more likely to wander in and out of things they have promised to attend regularly.

This complicates the discipline needed to learn and perform choral music. We have experimented at my church with cutting the weekly choir rehearsals and packing them around the Sunday morning service. I think this has failed. It has certainly not resulted in more members for the Chamber Choir nor has it helped my quest to make this ensemble an excellent one. It seems to have killed the kid’s choir but that remains to be seen. I have agreed to add the Kid’s choir to my duties with a small increase in salary.

So we are planning to return to Wednesday rehearsals this fall for both groups.  I pointed out to planning committees the idea of piggy backing our ministries instead of competing for the same small group of volunteers.

The church (and my boss) seemed to have decided this is an idea worth trying. We start this fall.

Now I have to beat the bushes and see if I can get any response to the new set-up.

This morning I spent my relaxing and reading time writing this possible announcement for Sunday’s bulletin:

Opportunity knocks!

Why sing in a church choir?

We live in a time when the basic act of making excellent music (choral or otherwise) is rare in our daily lives. At the same time, new understandings of how our brains work are demonstrating  that we are hard-wired for music and music making. When you or your child join a choir at Grace you have opportunities:

opportunities to deepen your faith
opportunities to learn about the worship of the Episcopal church
opportunities to learn to learn the arts of singing and music interpretation
opportunities to discover great music first hand
opportunities to experience musical ensemble under skilled leadership
opportunities to serve Grace church with your unique gifts
opportunities to lead Grace in sung prayer

These are gifts for a lifetime. Gifts that you can give and that you can receive. As you plan your fall schedule, please consider committing your time or your child’s time in this way as the Choral music ministry at Grace resumes this fall.

The Kid’s Choir reforming under the direction of our music director Steve Jenkins is going to be meeting on Wednesdays at 6:30 followed by the Chamber Choir at 7:30. Our first rehearsals are on Sept 5 to prepare to sing for Kick-Off Sunday on Sept 9. On the following Wednesday our rehearsals will be part of the multi-track Wednesday evenings (Believing, Being, Becoming) which will add a simultaneous track for learning and growing as a member of Grace.

Now is the time for you to listen carefully to God’s call to be even more connected to our unique, vibrant community.

Poor Eileen. She just got up and I regaled her with this silly announcement. The above reflects some of her criticisms and comments.

Comments welcome here as well.


New New Yorker Martin Amis Talks Terrorism, Pornography, Idyllic Brooklyn and American Decline — Vulture

This interview is poorly edited (typos and one entire paragraph of interviewer comments not bolded out), but I do like Martin Amis.


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2 thoughts on “the old choir director keeps on trying to get people to join the choir

  1. Recruitment, which is something that I have had some experience, is the task. It seems to fall around perception. So… in my humble opinion and really has not basis in fact, it must be fun to the individual and it must be rewarding to the individual. Now what that means and how to achieve that is the question. I have found that competition causes people to want to do more. So…. maybe a smaller group, i.e. quartet etc. could be used to entice those to participate. Anyway, you are the expert in music. I am just a person who reads your stuff. Good luck!

  2. Thanks for the comments, Ray. I have used the technique you suggest. Forty years ago, good church choirs used auditions which contributed to the notion of competition, though the reason was to hand pick singers by ability and sound. Auditions no longer work for most church choirs and have been abandoned by most professionals I have talked to. If you’ve had experience in recruitment for volunteer work, you must realize how the environment has radically changed (for one fascinating discussion of how the notion of community has changed see “Bowling Alone” by Robert Putnam). In addition to these factors, I have some pretty interesting unique circumstances (not terribly appropriate to discuss publically) at my church which complicate things as well.

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