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Choir Member Dilemmas


Guest delvin146
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Guest delvin146

Not strictly an organ topic, so forgive me. However, I do believe it is related.

 

I have always been very reluctant to turn keen members away from choirs. We all know how valuable new recriuts are and I admire and respect those wanting to be part of it.

 

The problem is that requests for joining the choir often seem to come from people who either can't pitch a note literally, or those with voices which could shatter glass at 200 yards. They've recently been given brand new robes in an effort to encourage them, and now some who kind of infiltrated themselves want them as well.

 

When something is trying to develop out of nothing, I'm more inclined to think that we should encourage them. The choir I have at the moment is quite small, top line only about five people. (Ladies) :blink: However, they have made quite a significant improvement recently, through lots of hard work plus quite a lot of moaning that breathing in the correct place and pronouncing words correctly is too much like hard work. In fact, anything they didn't previously know is rather too much like hard work and that was mainly a diet of MP. My new male recruit simply makes vague non-musical mumbling noises under the top line. There's no other male there to support him or help him pitch even in unison.

 

The major part of me really wants to train them, but of course this takes time and just as the original members are improving, if I let these new ones in a lot of the good work could be undone and the congregation will just say don't they sound terrible, and I'd agree. Coupled to that, there are a significant other number in that church that would love to see the choir fall flat on its face anyway. Although not the vicar I hasten to add. I believe if a choir sounds terrible, then nobody with any real potential will want to join it. They can do very basic music for trebles, with an occasional two part texture, but it's pushing it a bit at the moment. Music reading skills are at best extremely minimal, although they can now see if the blobs go up or down or stay the same! They only wail away in seconds about two times out of ten without realising anything is wrong. Only after some considerable effort on my part could I convince them that, really it was much better when they all started on the same note.

 

Any suggestions gratefully received. Thanks

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You have my sympathy! Perhaps the question to ask is whether admitting the newcomers will lead to the choir being permanently compromised, or whether you can achieve some gradual, painstaking improvement by forever taking three steps forward and two back. Probably difficult to say. If it were me and I could face it, I'd probably let them in. After all, even cathedral choirs can have their ups and downs, as for example when experienced boys leave.

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Guest delvin146
You have my sympathy! Perhaps the question to ask is whether admitting the newcomers will lead to the choir being permanently compromised, or whether you can achieve some gradual, painstaking improvement by forever taking three steps forward and two back. Probably difficult to say. If it were me and I could face it, I'd probably let them in. After all, even cathedral choirs can have their ups and downs, as for example when experienced boys leave.

 

Thanks for that word of encouragement Vox. Perhaps I should make a CD and sell it for proceeds to send them on some RSCM training courses :blink: . I know the CD would sell like hot cakes, but i'd be to embarrased to send them at the moment.

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk

I'm sure that a lot of readers will sympathise with you; after all, it is clear that you are going out of your way to encourage others and build things up.

 

A few little suggestions - though they will propably already have occurred to you:

 

1. Start learning your choir-only items well in advance - four weeks beforehand*, for preference. Even more-or-less non-singers tend to find their way onto the right notes with this many repetitions! It's a sort of osmosis. I still do this* because it means that I can realistically expect my singers to get their heads out of their copies when the great day actually arrives.

 

2. Pick pretty basic items - not too high pitched, not too exposed. Don't start - for example - with 'O taste and See, or anything like it!! The simpler the music, the more likely they are to succeed. There is no shame in singing something basic as long as you do it well. Many hymns (even 'modern' ones) make good little choir-only items.

 

3. If voices stick out, or your folks seem unable to 'hear themseves' and therefore learn as they go, a radical solution would be to tape-record them (with their knowledge) in a practice and then get them to sit still and appreciate the results for themselves by hearing it back. They are bound (then) to spot voices sticking out, or entries where there appears to be a 'choice of notes' rather than the expected unison!

 

4. Folks who need drawing into line (pitch and tone-wise) sometimes rise to the challenge of singing a small solo and will put in extra time (being coached individually by you) to see that this goes well. A couple of lines of a hymn would be enough. One hurdle to overcome is the (shocking but prevalent) notion that they must 'kick out a lot of noise' in order to qualify as a choir. I recently heard a county youth choir (not around here, I hasten to add) where the aim (clearly understood by all) seemed to be maximum output at all costs. I reckon that the converse is true: the softer they sing (early on), the more attractive the actual sound is likely to be.

 

You do have a problem when only one man comes forward - the only solution (other than drafting in a tame friend to sing alongside) is to sing alongside them yourself. Obviously things will go better if this lone singer takes to sitting near to you, too. Mind you - full marks to them for being prepared to go out on a limb, not many folks would be that brave!

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Guest delvin146
I'm sure that a lot of readers will sympathise with you; after all, it is clear that you are going out of your way to encourage others and build things up.

 

A few little suggestions - though they will propably already have occurred to you:

 

1. Start learning your choir-only items well in advance - four weeks beforehand*, for preference.  Even more-or-less non-singers tend to find their way onto the right notes with this many repetitions!  It's a sort of osmosis. I still do this* because it means that I can realistically expect my singers to get their heads out of their copies when the great day actually arrives.

 

2. Pick pretty basic items - not too high pitched, not too exposed. Don't start - for example - with 'O taste and See, or anything like it!! The simpler the music, the more likely they are to succeed. There is no shame in singing something basic as long as you do it well.  Many hymns (even 'modern' ones) make good little choir-only items.

 

3. If voices stick out, or your folks seem unable to 'hear themseves' and therefore learn as they go, a radical solution would be to tape-record them (with their knowledge) in a practice and then get them to sit still and appreciate the results for themselves by hearing it back.  They are bound (then) to spot voices sticking out, or entries where there appears to be a 'choice of notes' rather than the expected unison!

 

4. Folks who need drawing into line (pitch and tone-wise) sometimes rise to the challenge of singing a small solo and will put in extra time (being coached individually by you) to see that this goes well. A couple of lines of a hymn would be enough. One hurdle to overcome is the (shocking but prevalent) notion that they must 'kick out a lot of noise' in order to qualify as a choir.  I recently heard a county youth choir (not around here, I hasten to add) where the aim (clearly understood by all) seemed to be maximum output at all costs.  I reckon that the converse is true: the softer they sing (early on), the more attractive the actual sound is likely to be.

 

You do have a problem when only one man comes forward - the only solution (other than drafting in a tame friend to sing alongside) is to sing alongside them yourself.  Obviously things will go better if this lone singer takes to sitting near to you, too.  Mind you - full marks to them for being prepared to go out on a limb, not many folks would be that brave!

 

Again thanks for that. At least this time I suppose they're very receptive. It's a bit of a turn around from dealing with troublesome but confident choirs, and fine Hunter organs with dodgy pneumatics.

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I fully sympathise with your position.

 

In the last 15 years my own choir has gone from singing a fairly traditional Anglican repertoire to a largely unison based diet. This is directly attributable to death – I kid you not!

 

On the positive side, we have gained a few youngsters who sing very nicely, the problem is with the parents and the almost constant stream of shopping trips et al. We also have the dubious please of an “enthusiastic groaner” in the back row!

 

From time to time I do feel like giving it all up, but I am buoyed up by the favourable comments from visitors to the church – we are now the only church in our circuit that has a choir and a “proper organist”.

 

One book that has proved to be worth its weight in gold is “World Praise”. I freely admit that that the title brings up the nightmarish vision of Songs of Fellowship” and such like, but if you can get beyond that you may find it very valuable. The music is truly international and most of it is easily singable in unison, or with a bit of harmony for the more adventurous.

 

It’s worth a look. If you want more information let me know, I can’t tell you much more about publishers etc, as I don’t have a copy at home

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Guest delvin146
I fully sympathise with your position.

 

In the last 15 years my own choir has gone from singing a fairly traditional Anglican repertoire to a largely unison based diet. This is directly attributable to death – I kid you not!

 

On the positive side, we have gained a few youngsters who sing very nicely, the problem is with the parents and the almost constant stream of shopping trips et al. We also have the dubious please of an “enthusiastic groaner” in the back row!

 

From time to time I do feel like giving it all up, but I am buoyed up by the favourable comments from visitors to the church – we are now the only church in our circuit that has a choir and a “proper organist”.

 

One book that has proved to be worth its weight in gold is “World Praise”. I freely admit that that the title brings up the nightmarish vision of Songs of Fellowship” and such like, but if you can get beyond that you may find it very valuable. The music is truly international and most of it is easily singable in unison, or with a bit of harmony for the more adventurous.

 

It’s worth a look. If you want more information let me know, I can’t tell you much more about publishers etc, as I don’t have a copy at home

 

Thank you, yes it would be useful if you could tell me a little more about it. I've recently ordered a copy of "English Praise", to see if there's anything suitable in that, but as yet it's not arrived. The sad thing is there's lots of music in the church, anthems, service settings etc, so there has obviously been a decent choir there at some point. I suppose I'm lucky in that I get opportunities to play for other choirs in other churches in the area, it's just frustrating that getting resources for my own choir seems nearly impossible, especially as the enthusiasm and ability is there to do some half decent repertoire.

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Not strictly an organ topic, so forgive me. However, I do believe it is related.

 

I have always been very reluctant to turn keen members away from choirs. We all know how valuable new recriuts are and I admire and respect those wanting to be part of it.

 

The problem is that requests for joining the choir often seem to come from people who either can't pitch a note literally, or those with voices which could shatter glass at 200 yards. They've recently been given brand new robes in an effort to encourage them, and now some who kind of infiltrated themselves want them as well.

 

When something is trying to develop out of nothing, I'm more inclined to think that we should encourage them. The choir I have at the moment is quite small, top line only about five people. (Ladies)  :angry: However, they have made quite a significant improvement recently, through lots of hard work plus quite a lot of moaning that breathing in the correct place and pronouncing words correctly is too much like hard work. In fact, anything they didn't previously know is rather too much like hard work and that was mainly a diet of MP. My new male recruit simply makes vague non-musical mumbling noises under the top line. There's no other male there to support him or help him pitch even in unison.

 

The major part of me really wants to train them, but of course this takes time and just as the original members are improving, if I let these new ones in a lot of the good work could be undone and the congregation will just say don't they sound terrible, and I'd agree. Coupled to that, there are a significant other number in that church that would love to see the choir fall flat on its face anyway. Although not the vicar I hasten to add. I believe if a choir sounds terrible, then nobody with any real potential will want to join it. They can do very basic music for trebles, with an occasional two part texture, but it's pushing it a bit at the moment. Music reading skills are at best extremely minimal, although they can now see if the blobs go up or down or stay the same! They only wail away in seconds about two times out of ten without realising anything is wrong. Only after some considerable effort on my part could I convince them that, really it was much better when they all started on the same note.

 

Any suggestions gratefully received. Thanks

 

 

===================

 

 

I think diplomacy, tact and gentle resolve are the key-words to success.

 

Whatever you do, don't do what someone I knew did, when he first waved his arms at the choir after being appointed O & C of a large parish church.

 

He stopped the choir, put down his baton and said, very quietly, "Well, not all of you are ready for the glue-factory yet!"

 

The Exodus took three minutes, but it took him a further 5 years to establish a competent new choir!

 

 

MM

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Guest delvin146
World Praise – edited by David Peacock and Geoff Weaver

Published by Harper Collins ISBN 0 551 04001 7

 

Contains 84 items from all over the world

 

Many thanks for that. I'll follow it up. Incidentally, my copy of English Praise arrived. Not quite sure what I make of it. Peter Hurford Litany to the the Holy Spirit is in there, Hail redeemer (which I like and have used before). Christ Triumphant (Guiting Power), which of course is also in other books. There's also some brand new traditional style hymns and tunes which I've never come across before, but not as many as I would like to have seen really. Not had chance to play any of them through yet, but tunes look quite solid, and unlikely ever to have been heard by the congregation before, so they probably won't like them!

 

Advent Antiphons have been printed again, although they are already in NEH! I can't think why they've printed them twice. It looked to be identical, but I only scanned through it. Dom Gregory Murray service setting at the back along with the traditional version.

 

Hmm... might well use some of it with the choir as choir only communion hymns/anthems. Nice to see some decants included and hymns with a seperate organ accompaniment look approachable for novice choirs. Book is not quite as comprehensive as I would have liked and I feel an opportunity might have been missed. Still it has some very good points and there are other books which are far far worse. :P

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