Sunday, September 25, 2011

Too many cooks – benign dictators rule!

Question This post is part of a series of occasional Questions and Answers. Just use the contact form if you want to submit a question.

A budding choir director writes:

“I had prepared and arranged four songs, but the other person who leads the choir kept on asking the choir what they would like to do and of course they come up with ‘pop songs’.
“Would you ask a choir what they would like to do? The work I do with the choir is voluntary so I don’t really want to spend hours of time arranging if then we are only going to do pop songs - although I’m happy to do the odd one.”

In my opinion you should never ask a choir what they want. You will get as many answers as there are choir members (see Trying to please all the people all the time).

And they always say pop songs because that's what they already know. But pop songs are some of the hardest songs to learn properly (see Why choirs shouldn’t sing pop songs).

Stick to your own tastes and the choir will follow you (or leave). People come to a choir and sign up to the vision of the musical director (Whose choir is it any way?). If you keep changing what that is, they won't know where they are!

It's made more complicated because there are two people who lead your choir. You need to discuss between you, and maybe have a different 'flavour' each, e.g. you teach world music and the other person teaches pop.

“I understand that ‘world music’ - although a loose term- implies music from other countries that has its roots in the traditional music of that country.”

Exactly so. And they are usually much quicker and easier to learn so you can have a song up on its feet really fast. People object to the foreign words though, but “tough”, I say. They have just as much problem learning English words. Check out Finding songs for your choir for some suggestions of where to find world music repertoire.

Keep up the good work, and don't get put off!

You might like to check out some other blog posts of mine:

What the job of choir leader involves 

I’m a control freak and that's exactly how I like it!  (about not working with other leaders)


Chris Rowbury's website:

Chris Rowbury


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