I find these tips very useful for anyone who needs a good audition and admission process for new musicians – singers, guitarists, keyboardist, bassists, drummers, etc. – into a church choir.
10 Tips For Getting New Good Singers and Instrumentalists into a Church Choir
1. Always do a proper audition and make sure the audition is world-class standard and strict enough to get the quality of people you want. How people come into a choir is the most important aspect of a choir. Once you get the wrong people or people not so good in, to get them out will be difficult. If you do a shoddy audition you will get shoddy people. Process always determines product. Ask COAL and DIAMOND.
2. Ensure the people who want to come into your choir love the church and the Pastor very much and not just the choir. A church choir is bigger than the choir or the MD. Anyone who joins a church choir and is not committed to the church or its leadership will soon be frustrated and unfulfilled. If you don’t dig a church and can’t submit to the pastor and their ways of doing things, you will soon be rebellious and you won’t be blessed in that choir. So stay off.
3. There are a few basic technical qualities people should posses to join the choir if the team will do well musically. Singers must at least be able to sing on key and on beat and should have ears to recognize notes and reproduce them exactly. They must be able to follow chord patterns and interpret the groove of any kind of music. They should be able to sing their parts according to their vocal ranges and be able to sing other parts when necessary. Ability to switch parts, modulate successfully without going off is key. They should be able to score any piece of music by themselves. These are qualities that singers in excellent great choirs have that others don’t have.
4. Instrumentalists should be able to play to scored song pieces. This is a mark of disciplined Musicians. You don’t want to harbor a breed and pool of unbridled instrumentalists who will adopt the “freestyle” mode of playing. Instrumentalists that doesn’t have a music playing device is not an instrumentalist. How possible can you call yourself an instrumentalist and you don’t have a music library, no headphone or good earpiece? Drummer with no sticks and kits? Guitarist with no tuner? Watch for all these to determine how serious they are. Ask them to play intros of some common contemporary pieces, if they can’t it means they are not vast. Check out ability to play on multiple keys as well for keyboardists. If they don’t play well on all keys, are they open to learning or have decided to stay stuck to playing on C Major and F Major forever???
5. Get people’s motives right from the outset. If a person wants to sing or play on pay get them to tell you from the beginning. If not you would have unmet expectations. If you want to join a choir as a means of full-time job, kindly let them know as well. If they can afford it fine. If not then make your decision. Any Choir MAY at some point need full time and paid instrumentalists or singers. Its important you make a budget for it.
6. Ensure you accept singers who are ready for “choir music” and not solo acts. Many singers don’t like singing in a team. They just want to sing and shine on their own. They are more excited when they are leading a song than when backing up. Many of them can’t hold down harmonies as well. Good vocals but tell her to sing Alto she can’t. Let them know upfront this is about team music not solo acts.
7. It’s important people joining your choir have a sizable music library. This shows they are serious about their music. Years ago music libraries were measured by number of CD’s, Audio tapes or DVD’s. Today’s its measured in number of songs or gigabytes. I don’t expect a serious singer to have 1000 songs that’s far too small in the light of the amount of songs being released daily. To start with as a rookie who knows nothing yet but means business and is passionate you should have 100GB of music. Well, this is my opinion for any serious music team.
8. The heart of men is more important than their vocal cords or their skillful hands. Beyond the auditions have one-on-one interviews formally and informally with people just to test their heart. Someone may be good but have a wrong heart, a prideful heart, a competitive heart and so on. With the right heart, people always improve and become legends.
9. With number 8 above being said, let me put a balance to it that never ever must you accept unskillful singers and instrumentalists into your choir with the hope they will improve. In number 3 and 4 above is stated the basic qualities you’re to look for. If you accept singers who sing off key or instrumentalists who can’t keep to timing, trust me your choir music will be negatively affected. If they didn’t improve before joining you what makes you so sure you can change them? People usually relax once they join a choir. They just feel that are already good so no need to improve. By the way a great Choir is simply an aggregation of great singers and instrumentalists. It takes good people to create good music.
10. Find out what church they are coming from, why they left, how many Churches they have been to and why they left as well. In my experience as a choir director, I will counsel any Choir Director and church to be careful of people who have been to too many Churches. Something must be chasing them. I can understand if because of work, school and marriage someone had to change churches but if they have been in 5 different choirs in the same city in 7 years, its a pointer that something is wrong. What made them leave those places will make them leave you too soon. Find out and take your time. I’ve had to refuse some people from joining my choir because they haven’t fully and peacefully left their former church. Some people are just waiting for you to accept them before they leave their former Choir. Those ones are parasites looking for greener pastures. BEWARE!!!
My name is Tommy Tush and I’m the Director of Music and Worship at Harvesthouse Christian Center Ibadan.
God bless you.