Monday, June 27, 2011

Pastoral Musical Leadership Styles - Part 4 - The Democrat

No, not a political party,
but a leadership style
where the whole group has voice.
For the most part,
my leadership style is participative.
That means
that I like to allow the people I lead,
which in this case,
is the members of the music ministry,
via a style that is participative, democratic.
I like them to have a voice,
an opinion in the music we use.
The final decisions always rest with me
as I am the music director.

Using a democratic leadership approach
the choir members truly feel like a part of a team,
like their input matters.
And quite frankly,
it does.

don’t get me wrong.
A democratic leadership style
doesn’t mean
that if someone says,
“I don’t like that song,”
we don’t do that song.
I’m speaking here
more of a participation
in the creativity.

For example,
I may choose to introduce a new song.
In my mind
I can hear the alto section
or the sopranos
or percussion instruments in a particular fashion.
Maybe it’s my own creative vision
or maybe it’s what’s printed in the music,
but I usually have a clear sound
dancing around in my head.
And then we get to rehearsal
and Ana finds a unique and outstanding descant
in her mind
that I never found in mine.
Nellie finds that alto harmony
that totally meshes with what Ana is doing.
Not only is the finished piece of music
much grander than what I could come up with alone,
these ladies are contributing,
are becoming owners of the ministry.

The danger of this leadership style
is that it can lead to a choir discussion
as opposed to a choir rehearsal.
But a good leader
knows how to pull back into rehearsal mode
and must decide
which of the various musical suggestions,
if any,
to put into play.

I have found this leadership style
truly promotes creativity,
truly motivates people to participation.
In fact,
sometimes it’s almost like we have a psychic connection.
Marcy starts playing her guitar
and I know exactly where she is going.
Sometimes we just laugh out loud
because we realize that something strange,
but creatively beautiful is going on.
That strange and beautiful thing
won’t happen
if the leader only follows a militant leadership style,
always barking out commands
and never giving choir members a voice.

Another good thing
about this leadership style. . .
. . .(reminder:
I’m discussing a pastoral music leader). . .
. . .is that it is a great way
to find those talents
that lay hidden, dormant
in your members.

who played percussion with a group I direct
for many years,
is absolutely The Queen
of hand held percussion instruments.
She’d hear a song
and instantly know
which instrument is best
and quickly find the rhythm. .
. . . she’d know when to enter
to create interesting dynamics,
she’d know when to change it up.
Dolores is clearly a lady
of the rhythm section.
That being the case,
why would I,
a lady of the keyboard world,
ever try to limit her creativity?
Let your people
(those with rhythm)
creatively play with rhythm toys!!!

Heavy sigh. . . .
. . . I so-o-o-o miss Dolores.
She moved to Chicago. . . .

the rehearsals can get messy
using this leadership style.
But if you aren’t flexible
you probably shouldn’t be
a music director anyway.
The mess
is a part of the creative process.
Enjoy it!!

the group sometimes
ends up spending a great deal of time
on some songs,
but that’s why they call it rehearsal.
And really,
your rehearsal agenda
should always be looking far enough ahead
into the future.
If all you are concerned about in your rehearsal agenda
is what’s coming up this Sunday,
you’ve totally missed the mark
as a director anyway.
If in June
you aren’t already at least thinking
about September’s repertoire of new stuff,
you’re missing the boat.
Plan far enough in advance
so that your Sunday stuff
will take care of itself.
Advance planning
gives your choir time
to get creative.
Let your choir,
encourage your choir,
to participate in the creativity.

In the end,
if only the printed music score
or only the director’s creativity is used
the world will miss out
on some fine music
that could be,
but never was.

And what if the director
isn’t so creative?
And what if the music in question is great,
but the music score is lousy?
Should the choir
and the music ministry
suffer because of these two draw-backs?
I certainly hope not.
if there is talent in the ranks
just waiting to be developed,
and used
for the Glory of Our God.

one person cannot possibly know everything.
One person cannot possible create everything
when it comes to music.

in the end,
we are doing more than
preparing music for mass.
The choir is a small ecclesial community.
As directors
we must do all we can to build that community,
not just from the neck up
(learning new music)
but from the neck down
(participation from the heart).

And while I may use
the other leadership styles
on an “as needed” basis,
this is the leadership style,
the democratic/participative leadership style,
I have claimed for myself.

It brings forth flexibility and creativity.
It creates commitment and community.
It’s messy and fun!

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