10 Important Things I’ve Learned from 40+ Years of Directing Choirs

by vernsanders on August 23, 2010

Every month I write an article for Monday Morning Email (which you should subscribe to if you are reading this and you are a church musician…). The latest one concerns some important things I’ve learned from being a choir director. You can get all the details here, but here are the 10 things:

They should sing more than you talk

Give the voices a rest periodically

Every Time you stop Singing it is a Teachable Moment

A Good Accompanist is worth their weight in Gold

If you are not introducing new Repertoire on a regular basis, your Singers won’t get Better

If you don’t have a systematic way of finding new Repertoire, your Choir will get Stale

Recruiting new members is Easy if you provide a Reason for people to Join the Choir

It’s about the Music, but Relationships Matter

There are Personality “Types” in Every Choir

They will Forget the Rehearsal Work if they have a Memorable Performance

Those may not be the “Top” 10 Things, but I think they are important. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.

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September 28, 2010 at 7:20 am

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Tim Mayfield August 30, 2010 at 10:06 am

Re the statement “It’s about the music, but relationships matter.” I’d say all of life is about relationships! As that
is applied to our choir ministries, the #1 relationship to work out is that of each singer/player with God; #2 is us with each other in the ministry group; #3 is the choir/ork with the congregation; and #4 is to bring that congrega-tion into a solid relationship with God…and that (#4) is the reason the church choir exists! The music is a tool to do that; but even the greatest musical presentation ain’t gonna do it if it’s obvious there is fighting in the choir, or if the congregation totally hates the music being offered week-after-week, etc. So let’s work more on our relationships, as well as on the music. My choir & ork do things together throughout the year to strengthen their relationships, including a yearly “appreciation banquet.” We include spouses at some of those events, and we include children at our picnics. I just completed meeting with each and every member of the choir in one-on-one settings! All 100 of them! I needed only 6-7-8 minutes with each to tell them “thank you,” to listen to them share something specific about choir, and to give them an idea of where we’re going in this coming year.
You should have seen their faces when I said “thanks” to them as individuals! For some reason a single member of a 100-voice choir doesn’t always think he/she is all that important to the total, and I want each member to know that’s false! Each and every member is important to the total, or else God wouldn’t have made it clear that each one should even be in the choir/orchestra! Thanks again for your words/thoughts/ideas/ministry to us guys and ladies. tim

vernsanders August 31, 2010 at 9:41 am


Great idea!

I haven’t done this for a number of years, but I have in the past. The first important thing I remember having to convince them of was that it wasn’t an “audition.” When they got there and we got a chance to talk, it was fun to watch them figure out that I was just interested in them as individuals…and they learned something about me in the process.

It sounds as if you’ve got a great thing going. Keep up the god work!


sabanus Dabbason October 27, 2010 at 8:14 am

Iam writing to appreciate your effort and I would be very grateful if you can send me some guidelines on how to organizing a choir in the church.

Thank you.

S. A. Dabbason

sabanus Dabbason October 27, 2010 at 8:18 am

Iam writing to appreciate your effort for teaching other people to know much about ten things people relate to choir and I would be very grateful if you can send me some guidelines on how to organizing a choir in the church.

Thank you.

S. A. Dabbason

vernsanders October 29, 2010 at 5:24 pm

Thanks for the comment. Organizing a choir in a church depends upon a lot of things, but mostly people who are interested in singing. There is a lot that goes into the process but here are a few simple things you can do.

Do an informal survey of people in your congregation to see how many would like to sing. Find out if there is a better rehearsal time for the majority of those people. Get some music. Have fun.



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