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Christmas Choristers


Peter Clark
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A fairly common problem, I think, is the sudden wish of people to join the church choir for the Christmas season (when all the fun music is sung) and then disappear after Epiphany. This happened to me many years ago in a church far removed from my present post (in distance as well as churchmanship!) . Anyway, I still get the odd enquiry and so I have put my foot down and have said that if you want to be in the choir then you've got to be in it all year round. I think this is only fair on the loyal members who come in foul and fine weather and don't moan (much) if the music is a bit bland or a bit modern or a bit difficult that week....

 

Has anybody else had this problem to deal with? If so what did you do?

 

Peter

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A fairly common problem, I think, is the sudden wish of people to join the church choir for the Christmas season (when all the fun music is sung) and then disappear after Epiphany. This happened to me many years ago in a church far removed from my present post (in distance as well as churchmanship!) . Anyway, I still get the odd enquiry and so I have put my foot down and have said that if you want to be in the choir then you've got to be in it all year round. I think this is only fair on the loyal members who come in foul and fine weather and don't moan (much) if the music is a bit bland or a bit modern or a bit difficult that week....

 

Has anybody else had this problem to deal with? If so what did you do?

 

Peter

 

One might say a choir is for life, not just for Xmas.

 

Always reasonable, in context, to ask about commitment to the choir in general.

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I've never had this, but I think my reply would be along the lines that the Advent/Christmas season, with its heavy workload of "once-a-year" music is not the time for newcomers to be developing their essential choral skills - these are much better acquired during quieter seasons, so please, please do come and see me in the new year. Or something like that.

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I think a lot depends on whether you are a beggar, or whether you can afford to be a chooser in terms of the resources open to you.

 

At my old church, I eventually agreed that we had the choir that performed week by week, and there were a few extras who were welcomed as 'friends' to add a bit of help for big services at Christmas and Easter.

 

Mind you, that was because there were a couple of people in the congregation who were very good singers, but who, for good and understandable reasons, did not want or could not make the regular weekly committment.

 

I was happy to have them on their own terms for the big occasion, but careful handling was necessary to make sure that the regulars did not feel put out.

 

I did not handle this well at first and some resentment was justifiably expressed by the regulars, but, as I say, with thought and diplomacy on my part, I made it work after the first year.

 

As an example of the sort of thing, even if the extra was a superb soloist (and one was), I would not give them the big solos ; I would allocate solos to the regulars, or to a semi - chorus of regulars if they needed the moral support of one another. I made sure that the extras were seated discreetly at the side and at the back so that the regulars were in the limelight.

 

I also made sure that the extra who was so invited was the sort of person who would be sensitive to how their involvement would be handled, and would fit in with scheme of things.

 

[slightly off topic - I had one regular singer who was, frankly, dreadful. However, I included her in the choir as part of my pastoral mission. She came to all the rehearsals for the carol service, only to tell me on the day that she could not do the service itself. I went ballistic.

 

The next year, she kept reassuring me from July onwards that she would be at the service. She repeated this message every Sunday. She did not, though, come to any of the rehearsals. I did not have the heart to turn her away when she turned up, beaming with enthusiasm, at the carol service itself, even though she proceeded to foghorn her way through every piece of music getting it all spectacularly, and very obviously, wrong. That was beyond even my powers of charm].

 

Hope that helps !

 

Mark.

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Guest Lee Blick
I think, is the sudden wish of people to join the church choir for the Christmas season (when all the fun music is sung) and then disappear after Epiphany

 

Sometimes the opposite is the case, choirmembers b*ggering off to visit relatives/Spain/Australia and that can be annoying too.

 

The increased workload and rehearsl time required over the Christmas period could be a natural deterrent for many.

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Inversely, I became involved in church music (and subsequently in studying the organ) as a result of "signing up" to our church choir with the intention of singing just for the Christmas period and its related rehearsals. But I got the bug and forgot to leave!

 

Perhaps there's a trick to be learned in how to maintain momentum and interest once the Christmas period is over, such that any new members feel the urge to stay on.

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Depends on circumstances.

 

If people can come 'all year round' then maybe they should be reminded of this

 

If however, it is like one of my friends in my choir who is at uni, and comes back at christmas,easter and occasionally throughout the year, then i feel that is acceptable

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Depends on circumstances.

 

If people can come 'all year round' then maybe they should be reminded of this

 

If however, it is like one of my friends in my choir who is at uni, and comes back at christmas,easter and occasionally throughout the year, then i feel that is acceptable

 

 

I agree absolutely, David; I too have had choir members at university, or who need to work away for periods of time, otyen long-standing loyal members, and they are always welcome in the choir when at home; conversely, I have had many students at the local colleges who because of vacations can't be here at the "big" occassions (Christmas and Easter) but they are always welcome during term time. I have used Vox's response and guess what? They don't turn up after the Chroistmas season is over!

 

Peter

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