The summer can serve two distinct roles. First, bringing a great year to a close with (perhaps) a great choir tour. Secondly . . .
Secondly, we get a chance to do some advance planning to get ready for the big kick off in the fall.
Before going any further you are likely asking why is there a picture of a silver Labrador Retriever on the front of this posting? Well, that’s “Shadeaux,” he was born in Louisiana, hence the spelling. What does he have to do with this posting? Nothing, except he is sitting here watching me write, giving me ideas, so I felt he deserved a little bit of credit. Thanks for the help, Shadeaux!
Create a culture of great music.
Here is something to ask yourself. Is every song that you sing with your student choir strong and significant?
For a decade I would pick a mixture of songs that were of tremendously high quality with great spiritual depth, but I also had songs in “the rep” that were frankly weak on depth and theology, but were “fun” to sing, right? (I felt that the students would balk at losing those from their list.)
To my surprise, one year I asked a senior “what would have improved your 4 year experience in high school choir?” His suggestion: Make all the music theologically strong and significant. In other words, take the “lightweights” out of the rep.
He pointed out that the favorite songs, year after year, weren’t the weak songs that were “fun,” but the songs that were significant and powerful.
Since that time, I have discovered the joy of hearing students sing songs that shape their lives and that stay with them for a very long time—hopefully, forever!
It’s worth the work!
Select songs that will impact them for the rest of their lives.
What is the NAME of the youth choir at your church?
If it is called “Youth Choir” consider finding a NAME for the choir that can stay with the choir for a long time.
When I arrived at Tallowood in March 1982 the high school choir had a name—Sonlight. It still has that name.
But the junior high choir was called. . . well. . . the “junior high choir.”
The one thing every junior high student anticipated was getting to be in high school, so I decided the junior high choir should have a NAME.
After all, the high school choir had a name.
I wanted the two names to relate to each other somehow. If the names relate, it helps the congregation connect the names to other youth music groups.
I decided either the “Son-“ or the “light” should be in the new name.
Taking a page from the movie “E.T.” that came out that year— “Heartlight” was born and became the name of the junior high choir.
The high school auditioned ensemble is called “Lighthouse” for that same reason.
A good name can give a group a strong identity that can last for generations! It is fun to have parents who were in Heartlight or Sonlight bring their children to the same choir that they sang in—just a few years earlier.
In those weeks when the choirs are OFF from rehearsal, how can you build momentum for the coming year?
(Just a brief “aside.” I believe every organization needs time to breathe. If your choirs don’t have a planned “break,” plan one for them today. Give them at least a month off. At first, I was afraid that they would get out of the habit and drop choir from their weekly schedule. Just the opposite happened, they start to anticipate getting back together in the fall. Every fall we see attendance take a JUMP when we start up again.)
Does your church have Vacation Bible School (of some similar event) request that you talk to the age groups that feed into your choirs?
Kids have a lot of choices today to fill their “extracurricular” schedules. In many families the parents decide which activities get to be added, however, it is becoming more popular to allow their kids to choose.
Go right to the students and tell THEM why they should be in your choir.
If you don’t know what to say, call my office right now and I will help you find your voice on the matter (832-320-8156).
They need to hear your heart! But don’t stop there.
Include the parents in the campaign.
Every summer I write the parents a letter about why they should encourage their student (or students) to be in youth choir. There are so many advantages to having a choral experience in your formative years, I could go on and on.
I usually do that in the letter to the parents.
Some of the best money we spend each year is on producing a slick, full-color, full page advertising mailout to go to every kid—members and guests alike.
Anyone who has ever shown up for something here gets one!
Make your choir look “un-miss-able!” then it will inspire you to make the rehearsal measure up to that.
More on THAT in just two weeks!
June 5, 2015