In this short series I am going to introduce two clinicians from this year’s “Alleluia Conference” at Baylor University.  (YouthCUE is one of the sponsors of this event.)


This month I would like to introduce Dr. Carey Cannon, Minister of Music and Worship at South Main Baptist Church in Houston.  As a clinician he is perfect—he has the (bass) voice of authority and the passion of a committed traveler on the way.  He loves to make great music, but more importantly, he loves to make fully-devoted followers of Christ.

Here is an excerpt of his first youth choir seminar at “Alleluia” July 2015.

Begin with the END in mind—Dreaming

—what do you want the kids to experience this year in choir?

—tour, trips, rural, urban, global?

—how can you build lasting relationships with them?

Aligning yourself and eliminating “silos”

—get everyone on staff on board with your goals; be collegial.

—share how your ideas and vision fit into the rhythm of your congregation.

Calendaring makes your ideas a reality

—set the calendar and stick to it.

—create plenty of performance opportunities.

—involve students as often as possible in multiple services (if you have more that one “style” involve them in all.)

Repertoire selection is key

—set them up to SUCCEED not just SURVIVE.

—make it challenging enough to keep their interest.

—sing music with scripture full of promise, lamentation, and joy.

—the text they sing is vital in their lives. . . choose powerful words.

—as the director, know the music backward and forward.  Work hard at it.

Clear Communications

—use all the modern resources. .  texting,  Facebook, etc.

—don’t forget the power of a hand-written note!


—interview every student.

—give them glimpses of the student choir culture by using skits and involving students.

—encourage choir rituals and distinctives (Carey likes to wear bow ties, it wasn’t long before his choir wanted to perform in bow ties, too).


—determine your best standards and stick to them.

—create an innovative way to separate students from their cell phones.  Dr. Cannon uses door mounted shoe holders for the kids to drop their phones in before rehearsal.

—expect them to excel in posture and musical standards; don’t sell them short just because they are youth.

“No director has the right to take away the joy of making music from anyone.”  Haasemann

Rehearsals are the “scaffolding” of great singing

—keep adding to the structure each week, building throughout each rehearsal.

—teach concepts, not just moments.

—As their director, how do you want them to sing?  Teach them that consistently each week.

Variety and Novelty

—never do anything the same way twice.

—be predictably unpredictable.

—organize creative sectionals.

The Singer

—vocal health is paramount.

—teach them to achieve a silent “ah” breath.

—teach a balance onset of tone.

—they want to rise to the occasion; again, don’t sell them short.

Remember “Brain Friendly” learning

—people remember 14% of what they HEAR.

—people remember 50% of what they DO.

—people remember 92% of what they TEACH OTHERS.

—get students involved in leading and teaching other students.

The Literature

—ask random, simple questions about the music and how it relates to them.

—have them write on notecards their thoughts regarding the music.

—tell them the stories that prompted the composer to write the piece.

—explain why you picked the piece.

—find ways to connect them to the piece.

Celebrate Achievement

—give them public praise for their accomplishments.

—choose solos carefully so that they are successful.

—post videos on YOUR Facebook page (it says that you are proud of them).

— create rituals of success for the group. (These might include how officers relate to choir, closing/opening songs, prayer times, etc.)

—host a fancy dinner at the end of choir tour and pour into them.

End of Part 1—Final part in 2 weeks

Randy Kilpatrick


August 5, 2015