A church choir provides a way to worship God in song, and adds to the overall spiritual experience for a congregation. While many church members around the world sing in choirs every Sunday, not every church has one. If yours is contemplating starting a choir, following proper guidelines will help ensure an organized and uplifting process for all involved.
Decide who’s going to be in charge of the choir. Choose a director with previous experience in worship leading or music education, if possible. Or, check the local high schools, universities, and community choirs, or advertise in your area for a music teacher (active or retired) or a student who would be interested in leading, and another who would be interested in playing the piano or organ.
Post an announcement in the church bulletin or on a church wall that you’re forming a new choir and you’re looking for members interested in joining. Emphasize that this opportunity is a commitment, and advertise that you’re looking for team players who are willing to learn music and join with others to sound like one harmonious unit. Make sure new members can show up for rehearsals.
Select music that’s easy to learn. That will especially help in the beginning since the choir is new and members are just learning how to work together, advises Lucy E. Carroll, a music director at a monastery, in an article on the Adoremus Bulletin website (adoremus.org). Start with the church hymnal since most members will already know those songs, and graduate to more difficult pieces after the first year. Don’t choose music that your choir can’t sing, such as music that is too high for the sopranos or music that focuses on the weaker sections of the choir.
Select responsible individuals as points of contact for choir members who have questions or need transportation to a rehearsal or service. Assign these leaders to collect and return the music to proper storage after each session and record absentees.
Make and distribute a yearly calendar of rehearsals, services, and any extra performances such as Christmas and Easter, says Carroll. Include a list of songs the choir will rehearse or perform at each assembly. Make CDs for choir members so they can learn their parts before each rehearsal, service, or performance.
Ask another church volunteer to record each practice and convert the recording into an MP3 audio file to email to all the choir members. This way, the choir can track its progress from week to week and absentees from a particular rehearsal can keep up with the songs.
Plan at least one rehearsal per week, such as Wednesday nights when churches usually schedule midweek activities. Decide how long each rehearsal will be. Forty-five minutes to an hour per rehearsal is enough time to get used to everyone's singing and harmonize the parts without feeling tired at the end.
Contact other churches to arrange for the choir to perform in one of their services once your choir is well-established, says Carroll. Consider exchanging choirs with other churches on appointed Sundays or singing at a church that doesn't have a choir. Contact area nursing homes about special performances, as well, particularly on holidays.
Once you establish your church choir, expand your music program to include children's choirs and special ensembles.