By W. C. Rice
THE CHOIR DIRECTOR IS THE PERSON USUALLY CONSIDERED TO BE DIRECTLY responsible for the music of the church. While his authority does not supersede that of the minister, he does have the opportunity to develop a program that will extend throughout the entire church and reach all of its people, whether young or old. How much he can accomplish will depend upon his training and ability, the amount of time he can give to the church, his personal interest in and dedication to the Kingdom, and the environment in which he must work. There is a common tendency to differentiate between the part-time director whose work in the church is primarily avocational and the full-time musician; further distinctions are often made between the well-trained musician and the amateur with very little training. We feel, however, that differences which exist are principally of degree and not of kind. Because of the unusual demands of his position, the choir director who serves any church effectively must be more than an ordinary person. His qualifications cover a wide range of abilities and interests; at certain places they duplicate those of the pastoral minister with whom he must work so closely. Waldo Selden Pratt, in Musical Ministries in the Church, said, �The musical leader is an assistant pastor.�
He has an unusual opportunity to lead the congregation in worship; he can go beyond the organist and, under certain circumstances, even the minister, because of the singular characteristics of his medium of communication�choral music. The director must not forget that the congregation needs and expects his unique kind of leadership. Since the choir is his principal medium of expression, he must help his singers to be a dedicated, priestly group whose greatest concern is worship. In conduct, attitude, standards, and musicianship, the choir will never rise above their director. He must be more than an accomplished conductor; he must be an inspiring leader.
The qualifications of the effective director include characteristics that might at first glance seem to be unrelated to the management of a successful church music program. For example, his personal life may appear to have no bearing upon the conduct and performance of his choirs. However, we feel a church musician must be completely dedicated to his work, whether it be on a full- or part-time basis. It follows, then that J� must be a sincere Christian. Unless his whole life is a demonstration of applied Christianity, he is cheating his church, his singers, and himself. There is a very practical reason beyond the moral implications for the director�s having a strong Christian personality�his musicians will be more attentive, responsive, and responsible because they respect him as a person. Problems of discipline, attendance, diligence, and reliability will be solved with relative ease by the director who has the respect of the people with whom he works.
The mental, emotional, and physical demands made upon the choir director are far beyond what one might assume. Since physical health depends heavily upon mental health, it is reasonable to expect that he be strong yet gentle person. Gentleness does not imply weakness; on the contrary a Christian life is built on firm foundations. It does not mean opinionated or stubborn or imply the possession of a closed mind. The truly strong person is sure of himself without being cocksure; he is firm but not unyielding when good judgment tells him to yield; he has his own opinions but his mind is always open to the opinions of others; he is confident of his knowledge but is ever searching for more light and truth. Confidence in himself and in others brings with it security, emotional maturity, and a reasonably calm, even temperament. He cannot carry his feelings on his sleeve nor bring his personal problems to the rehearsal room and the sanctuary, for the church is not well served by the overly sensitive person who �gets his feelings hurt.� It is important that he be able to evaluate others on the basis of their true worth rather than upon his emotional reaction to them. His qualities of stability and maturity will create similar responses in those with whom he works.
A calm, even temperament does not, however, call for the cultivation of a cowlike placidity; there must be spark and sparkle. Few things can be more depressing or enervating than working under someone who is dull and stolid. A choir cannot help reflecting the personality of the director, and unless he is vibrant with energy, radiating a feeling of expectancy, the singing of his group is likely to be lifeless and ineffective.
It is important that the director be poised. It has been said that poise is a state of mind, and certainly it does reflect one�s thoughts, emotions, confidence, and belief in others. There is a great difference between genuine poise and the kind that is a front to cover feelings of insecurity and uncertainty. Artificiality and insincerity cannot be hidden for long; the intimate atmosphere of a choir rehearsal will inevitably uncover the true personality of the director.
An important ingredient in the development of poise is a sense of humor. The ability to laugh at himself or at circumstances can carry the director over many a rough spot. Again, one must separate the genuine from the artificial. The real humorist is kind, considerate, and gentle in his dealings with others. Sarcasm, jibes, and �practical� jokes at the expense of others are devices that the effective director never uses.
The poised person is well on his way toward being physically attractive. Physical beauty is perhaps the least important element in determining the attractiveness of a man or woman. Cleanliness of body and spirit; a vibrant face, especially the eyes; a radiant, straightforward approach to everyone; a cheerful kind of self-confidence that stems from an over-all belief in the greatness of God and the goodness of man�these are the important characteristics of beauty.
Vivacity, stability, and poise contribute to the development of a socially mature person who mixes well with all kinds of people. While he welcomes opportunities for solitude and introspection, his tendency is toward gregariousness. The flexible director who understands and loves people is able to adjust to most situations that confront him be cause his concern is not primarily with himself but with others. He is not an extrovert in the accepted meaning of the word; neither is he an introvert. He is a well-balanced person, able to hold his own with farmers, doctors, housewives, and young people, as well as with musicians.
The director�s position demands that he be co-operative, for many kinds of people and many facets of church and community life are affected by his work. He cannot expect everything to move toward him on a one-way street. He will need to reserve time and energy for activities and events that bear no obvious relation to his program. Aside from the practical aspect of close co-operation with the whole church and community, there will be personal and spiritual benefits to all concerned. Lives are enriched by contact with other lives. Because musicians tend to live inside themselves too much, they have great need for these out side contacts.
Too much emphasis cannot be placed upon the value of a reputation for dependability under all circumstances. The director expects his singers to be dependable; he cannot expect more of them than he him self demonstrates. A relationship between pastor and musician, and among all the people concerned with the church, that is built upon complete trust provides a strong and satisfying experience.
It is important that he have some training in matters pertaining to church administration, church history, theology, worship, and Christian education so that he will be comfortable in his association with the pastor and more effective in his relation to all areas of the church�s life. He may be given positions of official leadership not directly related to music, but that will ultimately tie his program more effectively into the life of the church. He must be conversant with policies, methods, procedures and trends in Christian education in order to assist in the promotion of an effective plan for the use of music in Christian education. Workshops and conferences sponsored by various agencies of the church can give much help in these areas, since the present emphasis in such schools is upon the development of a music program for the whole church. In other words, the church musician is no longer an isolated individual; he is very much in the center of the church life.
Thus far the discussion has been limited to characteristics other than musical. It is the sincere opinion of some leaders in church music that training and skill in music provide the starting point for the successful church musician, and may be considered more important than aspects of the director�s personality. On the other hand, increasingly large numbers of leaders in this vital area of Christian life feel quite strongly that the characteristics discussed in the first part of this chapter should be considered on a par with and complementary to the musical characteristics. We are inclined to the latter view.
The director is, to a degree, performer, teacher, conductor, composer, arranger, voice coach, and musicologist, and therefore must develop himself beyond the attainment of great technical proficiency.
It is surely better to seek musical leaders who are broadly intelligent about their art than those who are merely clever in doing things with their fingers or their vocal cords. Church music needs competent knowledge far more than flashy brilliance of execution or even what is called a pronounced musical �temperament.�
Certain facets of the director�s musical qualifications can be classified as innate ability. While he need not be a genius, he must have talents well above the level of average musicians. Such items as pitch discrimination, the ability to hear various colors (timbre), an excellent sense of rhythm, and an over-all sensitivity to the beautiful in music must be present in a marked degree. Hard work and constant study will increase the value and use of those abilities, but there is little to be done if they are lacking or exist at a low level.
The director who has the necessary innate abilities must constantly strive to develop them and add to his knowledge, especially in areas of vocal techniques. His medium of communication is the human voice; therefore he should be able to work intelligently with singers of all ages and stages of development. He need not be a soloist, but he should be able to demonstrate the basic principles of correct singing. He must be a good diagnostician, with an understanding of the cause of poor intonation, poor tone quality, poor diction, and other vocal problems. His knowledge of the limitations as well as the possibilities inherent in each voice will affect the progress made by his choirs. Since he will probably work with children as well as adults, it is exceedingly important that he understand the varying characteristics of the child, the adolescent, and the mature voice. His understanding should enable him to make singing a joyful experience, which in turn will permit him to strive for increasingly high levels of achievement. In order to reach these levels he must understand and apply certain important principles of good choral singing:
1. The production of appropriate sounds is necessary for the best development of the meaning intended to be conveyed by a particular combination of words. It follows, then, that considerable attention must be given to the kinds of sounds being produced. Beautiful tone quality is the basis of all good singing, but some music demands sounds that do not depend upon pure beauty for their effectiveness. Bach, in his �Passion According to Saint Matthew,� expects the choir to portray at one time a sorrowing people and at another a raving mob; certainly the sounds will be different. A delightful, gay little carol about the Baby Jesus should have color quite unlike that of the meditative chorale �O sacred Head, now wounded.�
2. Tone colors are obtained by balancing and blending the diverse sounds produced by individual members of the choir. It is at this point that many directors fail. Untrained and trained singers alike are often unable to fit their voices into the tonal structure without proper� frequently courageous�guidance. Heavy voices, light voices, weak voices, and wavering voices must all be brought into proper perspective.
3. Good intonation is not something that happens of its own accord. The singers as well as the director must be willing to put forth the mental and physical effort needed to produce accurate singing. A good tape recorder will work near miracles in solving intonation problems, as well as problems of balance, blend, diction, attack, and the like. Proper posture, correct support, careful listening, and careful thinking will usually eliminate off-pitch singing if the minds of the singers are kept alert. Continued poor intonation may be due to certain physical causes, such as poor ventilation, bad acoustics, or the mental, physical, or emotional condition of the singers. The director must determine the cause of poor intonation and see that it is eliminated even if it means raising or lowering the pitch of the anthem.
4. Good diction has many excellent by-products. With careful attention to the words, the director can lead his choir to absorb and recreate the meaning of the music more effectively. Attack and release benefit from crisp consonants and pure vowels, as do balance, blend, and intonation. Aside from the need for the congregation to understand the words, careful diction is important because of its effect upon the whole singing process.
5. Knowledge of theory and musicology will increase the effectiveness of any singer and add to his enjoyment of music. While few directors find it advisable to give their choirs formal lessons in these areas, the efficient director who carefully plans every rehearsal will teach his singers a great deal of theory and general musicianship without their being conscious of his teaching. Brief comments and explanations can be given as needs arise, but long dissertations on keys, modes, or music history will serve no useful purpose and may antagonize the choir. Most singers want to learn and will be very receptive to information that is not forced upon them.
Too often the director does not understand or consider the problems of the accompanist. In order to work more comfortably with his accompanist, he should have considerable knowledge of the keyboard; he need not, however, be a performing artist. Certainly he must be familiar with the opportunities and limitations faced by the accompanist so that he will not expect the impossible. He is responsible for eliminating material that is not playable and for obtaining the proper balance between ac accompaniment and choir. It should not be necessary to emphasize that his attitude toward, and consideration for his co-worker will have a marked effect upon the final musical presentation. Unfortunately, many directors make problems for themselves by their treatment of accompanists.
Strangely enough, one of the most important areas of the director�s training and experience is often neglected�that of conducting. He must be a good conductor. To some minds graceful hands and beautiful posture are an indication of good conducting. Others look for tousled hair, wildly gesticulating arms and body, and streams of perspiration. None of these obvious elements provides a dependable basis for evaluation. The conductor�s one task is to communicate with his singers in such a way that they will produce the sounds which are called for by a particular piece of music at a particular time and in a particular place. W he does in public will generally reflect what has been done in rehearsal. The more effectively the choir has been trained, the less actual conducting is called for in performance.
The size and shape of the choir area sometimes add to the director�s problems. Finding a place for him to stand while he is conducting is no easy task in many churches. Sometimes it is physically impossible for him to conduct adequately without being in the center of activity. In certain churches he is able to stand at one side of the chancel and, with or without mirrors, do an effective job. In others a screen may be constructed to hide him from the congregation. Unfortunately, the screen may be more obnoxious than his gesticulations. Whatever the physical situation, the director should remember that he is not the center of attention. Neither his gestures, his robe, nor his posture should be such that the congregation is conscious of him as an individual.
Conducting is more individualized than any other phase of public performance except acting. One director will obtain the same effect with a raised eyebrow that another works obviously�and perhaps in vain�to produce. It is almost impossible to establish rules for the conductor beyond the movements followed in beating the basic time patterns. However, a few items should be kept in mind by the director who wishes to make a real contribution to worship.
1. Gestures should be minimal. The very least activity that will pro duce the desired results is the best activity.
2. Theatrical effects must be avoided at all costs. The church choir director who stands in full view of the congregation has a serious problem as he tries to be inconspicuous while providing the proper guidance for his singers.
3. A poorly prepared selection that demands excessive directing should never be used in public.
The training of every musician includes the study of a great deal of theory, sometimes of an impractical nature. The director must develop practical competence in this area, including a working knowledge of counterpoint, composition, and arranging�the tools of his profession. He must interpret the composer�s wishes, and he cannot do so unless he understands the materials with which the composer works. Such a mundane matter as the correcting of misprints and errors demands considerable knowledge of theory. If he is to be an effective director he will find it necessary to do some composing and arranging. The matter of creating a hymn-anthem calls for an understanding of chord structure, voice leading, and other elements of basic harmony. Redistributing the parts of an SATB arrangement so that it can be sung by other combinations of voices, including TTBB, is not particularly difficult for one who understands such matters as the use of inversions, correct doubling of parts, and again, good voice leading. Any choir will respond well to music that has been written, arranged, or rearranged in terms of its strengths and weaknesses. The director must understand the theoretical implications of the music he uses in order to do justice to it, to his choir, and to himself.
Another simple but important task is arranging music to be used by children�s choirs with other choirs, for the quantity of good multiple-choir music is rather limited. More important, perhaps, than the shortage of usable arrangements is the fact that no one understands the potentialities of a particular choir or combination of choirs as well as their director.
It may seem farfetched to expect the director to be able to play orchestra instruments, but it will be to his advantage if he has this ability. If he cannot play he should at the very least have an understanding of the various instruments and be able to write intelligently for them. He will be a more competent director when he uses instruments with his choir if he understands the possibilities and limitations of the instruments he is conducting.
We have heard of directors who did not like or understand good poetry and prose. It is doubtful that they were very effective in their chosen field because the interdependence of words and music in good choral literature is so complete that the two should be considered together, as director and choir attempt to recreate the ideas of composer and author.
If the foregoing list of qualifications of the choir director seems idealistic and impossible of attainment, one has only to compare the present situation with that in existence two generations ago. In 1901, Waldo Selden Pratt made the following general statement: �Forty years ago our churches were far less careful than now about the character of those to whom they entrusted their musical work, employing freely not only non-Christians, but persons of notoriously evil lives.�
Other writers of the time gave considerable attention to the problem of obtaining dedicated Christians to lead their music programs. While Pratt seemed to feel that conditions in 1901 were better than in previous years, he implied that there was still much room for improvement.
In many places are found leading music teachers who have skillfully manipulated the local choirs and their policy for their own professional aggrandizement, apparently regarding the churches . . . as fair game for the cleverest hunter. In other cases we find that good musicians have grown weary of trying to preserve self-respect as choir managers, and hence have withdrawn from all active connection with church music!
The years between 1900 and 1920 were not productive of much change in attitudes despite the efforts of a few outstanding leaders. However, their work showed results in the period between 1920 and 1935 as is implied by the following quotation, which is almost wistful in its expression of hope and determination.
As days go by and the new profession [ ministry of music] develops there will be courses in the colleges and departments in the seminaries and schools of religious education where suitable training can be secured. . . If leaders in the church despair of finding directors thus fully equipped, conscious of a great Christian mission . . . technically competent to develop the musical gifts and endowments of the people, to train the voices of the children . . and . . . to lead the people into communion and fellowship with their heavenly Father, then let them turn their attention to preparing such leadership for the future.
Opportunities for obtaining the necessary training are much more readily available today than they were thirty-five or even ten years ago, and churches in increasing numbers are making funds available for the employment of full- or part-time church musicians who have properly prepared themselves for this great profession.
The duties of the choir director are as many and varied as there are churches. They fall quite naturally into two categories, however�musical and administrative. While there is little to choose in terms of importance between the two, it might be agreed that a fine musician could succeed despite his poor administrative ability, but the converse is quite un likely, and for that reason the musical duties are discussed first.
Obviously, he is responsible for directing the choirs of the church. Although in certain situations he may have paid or volunteer help, the principal reason for his existence is the choir program. He must supervise the promotion, organization, and use of the various choirs. Even more important, he must make careful preparation for every rehearsal so that he will know exactly what results he hopes to attain and the means he will use to attain them. It is not too much to say that the success of his whole program depends upon the way he plans and conducts his rehearsals. Let us hope that he is never one of the � who leave everything to the eleventh hour and then scramble.� His rehearsal might follow a plan similar to this:
TIME OF REHEARSAL: 7:00�8:45 P.M.
7:00�7:03 Opening worship
7:03�7:08 Familiar, vocally easy selection (or vocalises)
7:08�7:18 New anthem scheduled to be sung in four or five weeks
7:18�7:25 Hymns for the coming service
7:25�7:45 Anthem, or anthems, for the coming Sunday
7:45�7:55 Business meeting (if needed)
7: 55�8: 10 Anthem to be used in two weeks
8:10�8:20 Anthem to be used in three weeks
8 :20�8:45 Oratorio or other major work, or, if needed, more work on Sunday�s anthem
The director should be careful to include selections that differ as to difficulty, key, style, and purpose in order that a high level of interest will be maintained throughout the rehearsal. He should also vary his own approach according to the demands of each composition.
It is quite unlikely that the director can or should attempt to follow any rehearsal schedule without change. He must make adjustments as needs arise. It is important, however, that he set up and study a plan so that he will be mentally and emotionally prepared to lead his choir effectively. The fact that he is ready and waiting when the first singer appears will have an uplifting effect upon the choir and will tend to make the group more conscious of the correct starting time. It goes without saying that rehearsals begin and end as announced. Over a period of years a choir tradition regarding promptness can be developed to the extent that the late-corner is a rarity, and not tolerated for long.
Affairs involving the director and the accompanist, such as tempo, balance, and interpretation must be settled before the rehearsal. In these and all other matters there should be a firm understanding between these two leaders. In addition to conferring regularly with his accompanist as he plans his rehearsal, the director must study every selection before he presents it to the choir. He should sing or play each part in order to discover problems that may appear. If he cannot play all parts together he should ask his accompanist to help him. �Besides selecting all the music beforehand, the director ought to make himself intimately familiar with it.� Federal L. Whittlesey believes in thorough preparation beyond the mastery of notes. He had this to say:
He must decide on the desired emotional tone and how to obtain it. He must study the anthem for its musical form and style. He should know about the composer and author. He must consider the anthem for its effect in the service. . . . If the director has complete mastery of the number, he can teach it in a relatively short time.
The director should understand that his singers may be slow to accept music that is new and different; in fact, they may even show resentment toward him if he strays far from the conventional and the familiar. De spite their conservative viewpoint, he will find it possible to prepare the way for the friendly reception of almost any kind of good music, provided it is technically within the grasp of the choir. First of all, he must be sure that the choir has confidence in his good judgment. The members must know from past experience that he will not ask them to sing music of which they will be ashamed or which they will not ultimately come to appreciate. Then he must make an effort to relate the new music to something already familiar to them. He may tie text, composer, selected portions, or general effect to past experiences. He should introduce those sections which are easiest and most immediately attainable, or others which are so unusual that they will demand the choir�s attention. In rare instances he may find it helpful to play a good recording of the selection. Whatever devices are used, the director must plan his strategy carefully and be reconciled to slow progress and an occasional failure to obtain complete acceptance.
The physical setup for the rehearsal deserves more than the director�s passing attention. While the choir should rehearse occasionally in the sanctuary in order to have the �feel� of the larger space, it is better to work most of the time in a room that is intended for rehearsal, Regular rehearsals in the sanctuary may cause the musicians to develop a care less attitude toward the worship service. Practicing in a room to which all essentials are easily accessible makes the rehearsal run more smoothly. The intimacy of a smaller room which has good acoustical properties creates a better study atmosphere, and individual members may find it easier to hear themselves in relation to the group than in the sanctuary.
The director should arrange seating in the rehearsal room as it is in the choir loft. Music in preparation should be kept in folders�one for each singer. By making available a storage cabinet that has as many compartments as there are choir members, the director can hold each singer responsible for his own folder and hymnal. A simple system of distribution and recovery will save time and confusion. Adequate provision should be made for the care and protection of coats, hats, bad-weather garments, purses, and other personal possessions. Correct lighting and ventilation are quite important because the quality of a choir�s singing deteriorates rapidly if sufficient light and fresh air are not available. Robe and wrap cabinets should be well vented to prevent the accumulation of odors and possible mildewing of garments.
If at all possible the rehearsal room should be easily accessible to the choir loft. Weaving through rooms full of chairs or perhaps detouring through the furnace room or outside the building in order to approach the sanctuary may create an unfortunate attitude on the part of the choir as they prepare to assist in the creation of a worship atmosphere.
The Sunday morning pre-service rehearsal is almost as important as the weekday rehearsal because it provides a vocal, emotional, and spiritual warm-up for the service to follow. It is sometimes difficult to arrange because of space demands, or because so many singers have church-school obligations. It is important enough, however, to justify the making of sacrifices in other areas in order to have a few minutes for rehearsal and for moving the choir into the proper attitude. There must be, as a bare minimum, a prayer or some brief devotional period conducted by the minister, the director, or a member of the choir. The choir should under stand and accept the responsibility for helping to lead the congregation from attitudes created by the strains and stresses of everyday life into an attitude of devotion and prayer; the singers must, themselves, make this transition before they leave the rehearsal area if they are to lead others. Ideally, there will also be time to examine the entire service, prepare for any changes or unusual situations, go through a stanza of each hymn, and review the anthem. Members who have regular commitments that will cause them to be late should be permitted to enter the choir room without criticism or comment.
Another major task that regularly confronts the director is the selection of materials appropriate for the musical needs of the church. The most obvious need is for anthems to be sung by the various choirs. It is at this point that directors may fail because of the time and effort needed to do the job effectively. With thousands of selections being published each year the director is constantly faced with the need to study, evaluate, and discard perhaps 98 percent of the material that comes to his attention. The remaining 2, or at the most 5, percent may be usable under certain circumstances.
While consideration should be given in selecting music to the limitations of the choir, this fact must be kept constantly in mind: good music need not be difficult and difficult music is not always good music. Constant and unremitting attention to the problem of choosing good music will make the task easier and more satisfying. The director will become familiar with the styles of composers and writers; he will discover that some publishers are quite reliable while others are less reliable; the appearance of certain names as arrangers, composers, authors, and publishers will come to have significant meaning.
A relatively old concept of the director�s responsibilities is finally gaining acceptance�he should consider himself to be the musical leader of the entire church. �The people should learn to depend on their musical chief as the central source of authority and inspiration.� The increasing emphasis being place upon the total program of music creates opportunities for service never dreamed of a few years ago. The church school has long been a musical stepchild in many Protestant churches. Church leaders have finally awakened to the need for coordinating Christian education and music. A carefully planned program that starts in the nursery and extends throughout the whole life of the church can, within a very few years, produce congregations that will respond to church music more effectively than ever before. (See Chap. XI, �Music in Christian Education.�)
The director should let it be known that he welcomes every opportunity to help in the church school and the men�s, women�s, and youth organizations, and other facets of church life. He can assist in the selection of music and musicians for special and regular events; he can prevent the purchase of doubtful song collections; he can make recommendations regarding the purchase of pianos, phonographs, and other musical equipment.
The choir director may be asked to speak at luncheons, study sessions, or worship services. He may teach short-term classes in hymnody and related subjects with which he is familiar. He may counsel with interested parties regarding music for weddings and funerals. His influence can easily become a strong force in the growth of the church.
Because the choir director is responsible for much that goes on before, during, and after the worship service and because many last-minute problems are apt to arise, he should have everything possible planned in advance; his energies and attention are thus reserved for unforeseen contingencies. He may wish to have a final conference with the minister, the organist, and others who are directly concerned with the service. During the service, he must be reconciled to the need for his remaining slightly aloof and somewhat apart. He cannot lose himself in worship to the extent that he is unable to attend to the mechanical factors that are his responsibility.
In co-operation with the minister and the music committee, the director should make every effort to develop leaders in various musical activities. He can encourage young people to study piano and organ; older youth who wish to do so should be given opportunities to study voice; the director may himself give private or class voice lessons; if he is capable of doing so, he may also give keyboard instruction to worthy persons. At all times he must be searching for talent that might other wise lie undiscovered and unused.
Wherever there are adequate private teachers in the community, the director must be careful lest he be accused of taking students away from them. He should avoid the appearance of seeming to contradict their teaching, even though he is unable to accept it at face value. It is important that he maintain friendly ethical relations with all who are, or claim to be, his professional peers.
Last, but far from least, the director should give careful attention to his relations with local schools. A great deal can be gained by all concerned if a good working understanding is established with the musicians of the community. Conflicts involving rehearsal schedules, performance dates, and personnel can become quite serious unless some agreement is reached by everyone concerned. The avoiding of difficulties is important, but more important are the benefits obtained by a community-wide plan of co-operation. In those occasional communities where schools and churches work closely together, the music program has been strengthened and the whole community life broadened.
The director�s administrative duties may take almost as much time as his musical duties. Just as the pastoral minister finds much of his time devoted to organization and administration, so the choir director must plan rehearsals, order music, keep records, work out promotional plans, integrate his program with that of the whole church, and supervise the one hundred and one tasks that go with the musical ministry. It is obvious that he must make good use of his time. Because his work is so general, covering such a wide variety of obligations and opportunities, the efficient director will accept the fact that he cannot do everything. It follows that he should delegate as much responsibility as possible to others. By doing so he will enrich the lives of persons who might not otherwise become involved in the activities of the church; he will train leaders and at the same time make the music program more effective. The choir member who accepts the responsibility of being librarian, secretary, or robe mistress immediately places the choir high on the list of important things in her life.
The director should be effective in public relations. If proper financial support is to be forthcoming, the church and community must be kept informed about the music program�its contributions, its needs, and the opportunities it offers. Good public relations aid in bringing in the new talent that is needed for replacements and for growth. The director must work closely with the ministers and other members of the church staff. No one is so futile as the director who tries to function apart from every one else. He will strengthen his program and that of the whole church if his planning is broadened to include the others. Certainly there must be close liaison with the Director of Christian Education, because music is part of the educative process. The director should lean heavily upon the music and education committees, and try to avoid leaving any member of the staff in ignorance of his plans.
There is much about the director�s job that is pure routine. Robes need care; music must be mended, cataloged, distributed, and collected; pianos and organs must be kept tuned and repaired; hymnals need attention; letters should be written; bills must be paid; meetings must be attended. The list is endless, and these routine tasks sometimes interfere with the completion of a successful program of music.
The church musician is no different from any other professional person in his need for continuing growth. �Every director who enters into his work with a spirit of devotion and service to his church will strive to continue his personal and professional development in order to make that service more effective.� �
There are many kinds of opportunities available for study. Church music conferences and workshops are becoming increasingly common and effective. Colleges, universities, and seminaries are adding church music courses and degrees. There are numerous publications, both books and periodicals, which are devoted partially or entirely to church music and related areas. At least one denomination is sponsoring an organization of church musicians�The National Fellowship of Methodist Musicians. Every church musician should belong to the Hymn Society of America. Such organizations as the National Association of Teachers of Singing, the American Choral Foundation, the Music Teachers National Association, the Music Educators National Conference, and the American Guild of Organists have much to offer. The American Musicological Society and the Music Library Association will be of value in specialized areas.
Why are certain directors less successful than others? Some are doomed because they lack the necessary musical abilities or because their training is inadequate. However, many excellent musicians are unable to make more than a small contribution to the church. Some are liabilities.
Why? The answer may be found in the kind of life most serious music students are forced to lead. The attainment of musical skills is not conducive. to the development of a well-rounded personality. The successful church musician is that fairly rare individual who has somehow maintained good contact with people and with God while promoting his musical growth. He has temperament without being temperamental. In brief, he is a sincere Christian, completely dedicated to his work, for which he is qualified by reason of his native talent and training. He is an excellent musician, but, even more important, he is a person of character who recognizes that his own personal development will affect the expansion of his church and its music program. He has accepted in all humility a great and challenging opportunity to serve God and man.
Recommended Professional Organizations
American Choral Foundation, Inc.
101 West 31st Street, New York 1, New York
American Guild of Organists (AGO)
630 Fifth Avenue, New York 20, New York
American Musicological Society (AMS)
Library of Congress, Washington 25, D. C.
The Choristers Guild
47 El Arco Drive, Santa Barbara, California
The Hymn Society of America (HSA)
475 Riverside Drive, New York 27, New York
Music Educators National Conference (MENC)
1201 16th Street, N. W., Washington 6, D. C.
Music Library Association (MLA)
Copyright Cataloging Division, Library of Congress, Washington 25, D. C.
Music Teachers National Association (MTNA)
S. Turner Jones, Executive Secretary
32 Browning Street, Baldwin, New York
National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS)
Registrar, 33 Newberry Street, Boston, Mass.
National Fellowship of Methodist Musicians (NaFOMM)
Box 871, Nashville 2, Tennessee
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, �Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.�