How to build an Excellent Choir or Band
What exactly is meant by an Excellent Choir? An excellent choir can simply be defined as a group of people who create music that has a strong positive impact on an audience. From this definition it can be deduced that excellence in music performance has a lot to do with an audience. So, your effectiveness largely depends on the kind of audience you are serving. Your number one goal should be to leave an unforgettable impact in the hearts of your listeners every time you minister. I’m sure at some point you might have listened to musicians who sounded very good and skillful but didn’t leave any strong impression on your mind. Excellence should not be confused with demonstration of creativity and skills alone. Excellence has to do with how long your songs stay on people’s mind long after you’ve left the stage.
Before you can make an impact in music you must be propelled by a strong desire to do so. What are your motives for striving to be best? What inspires you to create music and perform it? Do you feel an irresistible urge to touch lives and make an indelible mark? Are you sure you’re not just motivated to impress people, to show off skills and intimidate others? To be the best, your drive must be a genuine ever-growing desire to touch lives positively, to influence your generation, to continuously give your audience a life-changing experience.
PassionPassion refers to a very strong enthusiasm for a course. As great as talent is, it is not enough to guaranty success or excellence in music performance. Band builders should not just be out there searching for the most talented people to recruit; you should get those who have in addition to talent a burning passion for the job. Those that will form an excellent band will be people whose fulfillment largely revolves around their involvement in music. Those whose lives are incomplete without music! Those that though they have the option of been physically rewarded can still afford to be on the job without a penny. Those who wish every day was Sunday just so they could minister one more time. Those that will keep suggesting to the music director to please augment rehearsal schedule by one more day. That’s what you need to build an excellent group. Talent and skills are like engines that need to always be on motion. You will agree with me that every engine needs a form of lubrication. The lubricant for your talent is the passion with which you activate it. When talent is drained passion rekindles it.
TalentTalent is not enough but is an essential ingredient for a long lasting success in any creative endeavor. People should not be admitted into a music group simply because they are willing to join. A certain level of talent and creativity should be auditioned for before admission. You don’t get employed in a law firm as an attorney simply because you’ll love to work in such a firm. Music is a creative field and only creative people should be allowed in there. You must understand that talents beget more talent. More and more creative and talented people will be naturally attracted to a choir that is fortified with talents. This is one of the key areas a music director needs to be firm on.
I keep wondering why music empowerment for members of a music group is usually the least item on the agenda of its leaders. Is there any profession on earth that does not require training before one embarks on practice in the field. So, why should music be an exception? Talents should never be seen as a substitute for skills acquisition. Knowledge must be sort after by everyone in the group, both individually and on collective grounds. Before any new member becomes fully integrated into your group, there should be a training phase (usually not less than 3 months) they must undergo. And even for the already integrated members there must be periodic training workshops for everyone to experience. Training for a music group should cover voice training, creative and songwriting skills, stagemanship and performance skills, rudiments of music and perhaps training on musical instruments.
Team work & UnityThis is a deterrent for music directors who believe in frequent hiring and firing. Choristers who work together for a reasonable time length often deliver far better than those who have to always adjust to new team members. To achieve excellence, you all must become one family, learn to effectively tolerate and manage every member. Try to kick against factions in the group. Despite the fact that some will definitely be more talented and skilled than others, they must never be treated preferentially or with superiority. All must work towards one purpose, one understanding, one goal. All roles and functions in a band are equally important in their own rights. Instrumentalists must not presume superiority over singers; neither should lead singers demonstrate a feeling of higher relevance towards back-up singers. Those who are hired and paid must not be treated like mere hired workers, or strangers limited to only their business relationship with you, they must be fully integrated into the family. Confusionists will have to adjust or be kicked out to raise an excellent band. Love is the key!
All over the world musicians are well known to have lots of excesses. In fact, they are the major headaches of most church leaders. Coupled with this is the reality that the most engaged of them are also young people, which ripples the effect of their restiveness and indiscipline. A choir that will achieve excellence must constantly develop creative ways of managing its talents. It’s quite an intricate job though. Because being discipline doesn’t necessarily mean toughness and intolerance. A good choir leader must be able to understand each member, their strengths and weaknesses and device ways of managing each person creatively. If creative people are left unchecked and unmanaged they can turn night to day. They can make fruitless all the efforts channeled towards consolidating the group. Corrective measures must be installed to curb excesses without sparing any sacred cows.
Enabling EnvironmentBy this I mean an overall supportive platform. The choir of a church whose priority is not excellence will find it very difficult to excel. Some churches focuses more on building projects, community service, aesthetics, at the expense of quality music. Every time the choir leader tenders a request to replace a speaker or microphone they narrate how it will be impossible based on the other more important projects the church has to expend money on. The pastor and other core leaders have become used to managing the mics with their squeaks and more than half of the P.A equipment not functioning properly. A choir in such an environment will struggle to survive, not to talk of making quality music. To build an excellent music group, it takes the will, passion and sacrifice of all concerned. Attaining an enviable standard in music takes commitment, time and good resources. Quality music must be a priority in the system, and the leadership will just not be able to settle for less.