A couple of weeks ago I made the mistake of thinking that visiting this year’s Parade of Homes would be a fun thing to do. I came home, looked at my surroundings, uttered a hearty “Blech,” and started painting. So this morning while the putty dries in a few nail holes seems like a good time to rant on one of my favorite subjects: the ward choir.
IMHO (if any of my opinions are really humble) the purposes of a ward choir don’t necessarily include putting on stunning performances. It’s a good thing too. Realistically speaking, even the best choir I’ve ever directed or sung with hasn’t come close to the elusive Mormon Tabernacle Choir standard. How could it? We don’t audition, we practice once a week if we’re lucky, and most of our chapels don’t have choir seating for 360. So what’s a ward choir really for?
First and foremost, a ward choir should be about bringing participants closer to Jesus Christ. If you’re a choir director, go back and read that sentence again. 😉 In a choir practice we have the opportunity to pray together for an hour or so, through the song of the heart that is literally a prayer to the Father. If a choir were to practice every week, and never perform, it would be time well spent provided practice time is a time for drawing nearer to the Savior. Everything we do as choir directors needs to be planned with that end in mind.
After that come some wonderful side benefits. A ward choir can be an invaluable tool for helping new members feel welcome. Practicing inspiring music together can help choir members feel and understand the doctrine of Christ in ways they may not have experienced before. And yes, choir members can also improve their musical skills along the way.
Do we still work to present the best possible performance? Absolutely. But I believe that when drawing nearer to the Savior is our number one priority, the rest will follow. With the Spirit’s participation, even the simplest performance will uplift and strengthen both the hearers and the choir members, but especially the choir members.
I’m working on a new Christmas song at the moment. It’s nearly finished, and I’ll post it after I figure out which voicings to include. So far it’s just solo and Alto/Tenor duet… we’ll see what else materializes.