A Choir in Every Ward

Posted on January 15, 2011. Filed under: Music in Sacrament Meeting, Ward Choir |

Several years ago I served as a missionary in a small branch in Spain.  About 50 people attended Sacrament Meeting each week, 6 of those were missionaries.  Every Sunday evening the adults in the branch gathered at the chapel for choir practice.  Sometimes there was an accompanist (when a missionary could play) and sometimes they sang a capella.  But they always sang.  Choir practice was the ward social event of the week.  Almost all the adults participated.  When they sang in Sacrament Meeting there was rarely an adult left in the congregation, just children.  But, that was okay.  These Saints loved singing.  Until I arrived they had only been singing the hymns in unison.  I convinced them that they could learn to sing in 2-part harmony.  We chose a favorite hymn and after a month of rehearsals this small branch choir did it.  They sang that 2-part hymn in Sacrament Meeting and were absolutely thrilled.

So, when I hear of full-sized wards in the United States who do not have a ward choir I shake my head in disbelief.  Do they not understand the power of choral music in our Sacrament Meetings?  Do they not understand the blessings that come to members participating in a choir?  Do they not understand that singing in a choir is one of the few things we’ll do on this earth that we will continue to do beyond the grave?

“…at this period of time when I am about to go down to my grave, that I might go down in peace, and my immortal spirit may join the choirs above in singing the praises of a just God.” ~Mosiah 2:28

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2 Responses to “A Choir in Every Ward”

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It is worse than pulling teeth to get the talented people in the ward to make time for choir practice. They are overwhelmed by callings and meetings and use the little time left on Sundays to be with family.

Have you noticed that regardless of how busy people are, they seem to be able to make time for things that are fun. Try making ward choir a really fun experience. If people see it as just another meeting they have to attend it loses its draw. As a ward choir director make choir a social experience, try joking around a little, make people laugh at choir rehearsals, provide refreshments, and make choir a positive and uplifting time for all. Keep rehearsals short: 30 to 45 minutes. Don’t make people feel guilty for not singing in the choir, just do a lot of positive recruiting. Another idea is to have the Bishop extend specific callings to ward members to sing in the ward choir. At the very least he should extend a calling to someone to be the Choir President, whose main job would be to recruit and encourage people to sing in the choir.

A few years ago, my ward choir was having similar problems. We had a director who was young and inexperienced and our 1-hour rehearsals were so incredibly boring; they seemed to last forever! We were lacking women in particular so I started bringing my 10-year-old daughter to sing alto. She has a strong voice, reads music, and keeps the altos on pitch. When her friends saw she was in the choir they asked their parents if they could join too. Almost overnight, half of our women’s sections filled up with primary-aged girls and their mothers (someone had to be the driver to rehearsals). Now our ward choir is more like a family choir. Our singers are ages 8 to 88 (not joking). Our choir director at the time didn’t mind having kids join the choir because we were really hurting for voices. Sure our choir doesn’t have the mature sound adult-only voices bring, but we fill the choir seats and have a great time in rehearsals. Also, we’re teaching our children and teens how to read music and enjoy singing in a choir. Our Ward Music Chairman brings treats to every rehearsal which certainly helps.

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