[Editor's note: Rally Day and the startup of choral seasons is upon us, but there's still time to get organized for fall! Thanks to Anne Krentz Organ for writing these seasonal pointers, helpful whether you're highly organized or running last-minute. Either way, we're here to help with Prelude's ever-growing resources. Blessings to you in your music ministries this September.]
Are you one of those musicians who celebrates the end of another stressful choir season by dropping all thoughts of next year, until suddenly it is breathing down your neck, bringing with it—yes, more stress? Then consider what follows to be both encouragement and help in getting a good chunk of your planning done for fall.
Begin with who is going to sing when, scheduling the choir(s) for the upcoming season. Do you have more than one choir? If so, work out a schedule so you know which choir will be singing at which service on what Sunday. If there is only one choir, think about ways to divvy up the choir responsibilities.
- Perhaps the choir women could take a particular Sunday and the men another. Be sure to invite all women/men singers in the congregation to sing in the choir for those respective Sundays. It could turn out to be an effective recruitment tool.
- If there isn’t currently a children’s choir, perhaps the Sunday school children could be taught to sing a psalm refrain, a hymn verse, and/or an easy anthem and could lead worship for one Sunday.
- An instrumental group, such as a handbell choir, flute choir, string or brass ensemble, or recorder consort could also function in the role of vocal leadership for psalms and hymns.
Once the choirs are scheduled, the natural next question is, what will they sing?
- If your church follows the three-year lectionary, read through the lessons for the upcoming fall months. Certain stories or themes will stand out. If your worship is not lectionary based, work with your pastor(s) to try to ascertain some potential themes or scripture readings. This will give you a framework in which to plan.
- Go through your church’s choral library to refresh your memory as to what is available. You may have forgotten about a piece that would be perfect for a particular group on a given Sunday.
- Pull one copy of each piece that piques your interest or is even remotely possible. This will become the pool from which you will select your repertoire. If finances allow, you may also want to purchase a couple of new anthems to keep the repertoire interesting and fresh.
- Keep in mind that SATB doesn’t only have to mean SATB – there are many ways to repurpose a piece for smaller forces. A girls’ youth choir could learn the soprano and alto parts of an SATB piece with the accompaniment covering the men’s parts.
- Likewise, a children’s choir piece need not only be sung by children. If the text fits and it is a well crafted piece, a mixed choir can easily do it justice, especially if there is a descant or second vocal part.
- Look for repertoire that covers a wide variety of styles and time periods.
- Choose a couple of “challenge” pieces, making sure to allow enough rehearsal time in the schedule. The choir will rise to the occasion, will work hard and will feel proud of their success.
- Choose a couple of easier pieces to give the choir a break while they are working so diligently on the “challenge” pieces.