Providing our students a smooth ride
With twenty-nine years of YouthCUE work in the books, one might think doing this work would eventually become monotonous, boring, or stale. Once you have developed a good youth choir program and enjoy the satisfaction and benefits from being involved with students, what more is there to it than to do the same things over and over again? After a few years of perfecting a successful model, doesn’t it become sort of cookie-cutter tasks, robot motions, and staged, predictable leadership choreography?
In a word, no.
In a more precise word, never.
Stagnation is a death-knell in student choir ministry. Go on automatic pilot for one week too long, and your ministry with students will suffer. When we fall back into ways and means of comfort and ease, decline is not far behind. That regression will begin occurring in mere weeks, not months or years.
The tricky part of the above is that student groups – as well as individual teens – crave stability. Another death-knell in youth choir ministry is continual chaos or too much rapid-fire change. Adolescents gravitate to places where they know something of what to expect. If every week is a surprise and a change in plans, we can kiss the program goodbye.
Truth is, there are deep, perilous ditches on both sides of the road. Move too slowly and stagnate, the program suffers and dies. Jerk everything around too much, the program perishes from the toxicity of chaos.
So, how in the world (and in 2019) does one find a workable, sustainable balance?
1. Know your students, their schedules, their unique challenges, their needs.
2. Organize towards smooth, sensible schedules.
3. Avoid last-minute jerks.
4. Allow some significant breaks between events.
5. Work to make the rewards “awesome.”
6. Project enough ahead to keep strong goals before the group.
7. Provide incentives to keep students engaged from week to week.
8. Become more than a choir; become a community.
9. Create an atmosphere of radical welcoming and friendship.
10. Call students by their names.
Not even one item on this list of ten is easy! The task becomes almost impossibly complex when we seek to implement all ten.
Complex and challenging? Yes.
Crazy to attempt or impossible? No.
We can do this, but we can’t do it alone.
YouthCUE is here to help. And after twenty-nine years and counting, we’re more experienced and more motivated than ever before. Let us hear from you, and together, we’ll get this done!
Founder & President, YouthCUE & Minister of Music & Worship at Woodland Baptist Church in San Antonio, TX
Prior to devoting his full-time efforts to YouthCUE beginning in 2005, Randy served for more than thirty years as minister of music at First Baptist Church San Antonio, First Baptist Church Shreveport, Trinity Baptist Church in San Antonio and currently at Woodland Baptist Church in San Antonio. He served as Chorusmaster of the Shreveport Opera Company from 1991-1999.
He has composed twenty-one published choral anthems and has authored the most comprehensive textbook to date on youth choir ministry, entitled, Revealing Riches and Building Lives: Youth Choir Ministry in the New Millennium. With more than six hundred articles published in over thirty publications, Randy Edwards is one of the premiere specialists in youth choir ministry today. He is sought widely as a conductor, clinician, consultant, and teacher.