Monday, May 13, 2013

Expectations as a Choir Director

The Buck Stops Here

when it comes to decisions about choir
and music ministry,
The Buck Stops Here.
Remember me?
I am The Choir Director.

I dabbled a bit in previous blog posts
about differing leadership styles.
More specifically,
about leadership styles
a choir director might have.

I tend to be a bit democratic in style.
I welcome suggestions from vocalists and musicians.
I welcome suggestions from the congregation
and most certainly from the pastor.
But in the end,
I make the decisions.
That’s just how it is.
It’s that way it is in the secular world
It’s that way it is in ecclesial life.
There’s always someone
who makes the decisions.

I’m a bit democratic.
If you don’t like a decision I’ve made,
do feel free to challenge me on it.
Ask me about my why I made it.
If you feel it infringes upon you as choir member,
do let me know.
I’m human, after all.
I may have overlooked a detail
about something.
I am approachable.

I expect certain things from you as choir member
or as a musician accompanying the choir.

I expect you to attend rehearsals.
And if you cannot attend
I expect a phone call or email or facebook message
letting me know about your absence.
If you continue to be absent
you can expect
that I may just ask you to leave the group
until such time that you are able
to attend rehearsals.

I expect you to be prepared for mass.
I pass out any new music at rehearsal.
If you didn’t attend rehearsal
and didn’t call to let me know,
don’t expect me to have all your music
ready in order and waiting for you
for mass on Sunday.
As a choir member or musician,
I expect you to keep your music in order.

And I expect you to arrive early enough
so that you aren’t tuning your guitar
when the greeter is making the formal words of welcome
to the assembly gathered just before mass starts.
I expect you to sing/play the music as rehearsed.
(I expect no musical surprises at mass).

I expect respect for the other members of the group.
The person who plays maracas
is not more important than the person who plays tambourine.
The bass player is not more important
that the person who sings the psalm.
Remember 1 Corinthians 12???
This applies to music ministry as well.
Respect each other
because we need and complete each other.

If you would like to help out with the Children’s Choir
I most certainly would welcome that.
I do so need help with that ever changing group.
I expect you to participate in the archdiocese’s
Protecting God’s Children Program.
Please don’t show up for children’s rehearsal or mass
and want to help if you haven’t completed this course,
or don’t at least have plans of taking this course
in the very near future.
I will be forced to ask you to leave.
I’m sorry if you feel this infringes upon you as a volunteer.
Decision makers, remember them?
Leaders in the Church have decided
that this course is necessary for maximum safety of our children.
And in all honesty,
I can’t say I disagree.
Yes, do come help with the children.
But be aware that as a choir director
I expect you take the Protecting God’s Children class.
That’s what I expect.

Sometimes the sound system works really great.
Other times, not so well.
I expect you to keep your eyes,
one on your music
and one on your director,
for cues regarding mics.
I may ask you to get closer to the mic
or to step away from the mic,
depending on how the sound is that day.
Be aware that the sound varies, also,
with the number of people in attendance.
When the church is full,
we need to eat the mic.
When there are less people
(like for daily mass)
we don’t need to be so close.
Sometimes it’s about the sound system.
Other times it’s about a full church.
And still other times,
it’s about appropriate use of the mic.
As a choir member,
I expect you to watch me
and watch for my cues,
regarding mics.

The same applies to musicians for the choir.
I expect you
to respect the fact
that I will decided
who is too loud
or not loud enough.
As musicians,
we accompany the choir.
We aren’t there for an overthrow.
there will be times
when the musicians will do instrumental pieces,
or requinto style intros and interludes.
But if you don’t come to rehearsal,
don’t expect for me to ask you
to “requintear.”

If someone is going flat
(why this phenomenon
that singers go flat,
but rarely go sharp???)
I will give you a cue there as well.
Listen to the piano
as I tend to play an octave higher
to try and help get us back on pitch.
If I know who it is,
I will give that person a specific cue
to listen. . .
If you don’t know what I mean
when I say I will play an octave higher,
this means you haven’t been at rehearsal.
If you don’t know what my cue is
for “you’re the one who is flat, listen up,”
you haven’t been to rehearsal.
I expect to see you at rehearsal.
I expect you to follow my cues.

watch my cues.
I decide tempo.
If the song is moving too slow or too fast,
I will decide that.
there are cues from your director
about tempo.
I expect you to pay attention.

I expect that all materials used
be put back into place when mass or rehearsal is over.
Anything less is showing a lack of respect
for your fellow choir members,
for the materials used for our ministry,
a lack of respect for me,
and a lack of pride and respect for the ministry itself.
I don’t want to be looking for the tambourine
only to find it hidden in a satchel at the far end of the closet.
And if the tambourine is not the instrument you play
I expect for you not to touch it all.

And let me go on a bit of tangent here
and say that most of those hand-held percussion instruments
are owned by yours truly.
Some instruments were purchased here
at local music stores.
But many of these instruments I purchased south of the border
(the maracas, the guiro, the teponaztle).
I brought them in
because I thought use of them
could help enhance the music ministry.
As such,
I grow particularly angry
when they are not put in the proper place
or when they go missing entirely.
You can understand that, can’t you?
End of tangent.
OK, a quick summary:
-Come to rehearsal
-Inform me of absence
-Be prepared
-Be respectful
-Watch my cues
-Turn the volume down
-Step away from the mic
-And Quit Hiding The Tambourine!!!!!

In the end,
I guess a little friction, a little agitation
is always necessary.
It keeps us on our toes
(even me!!!)

End of Rubi’s Ramblings.