Solos in Sacrament Meeting
On Sunday I attended a ward in Southern Utah. The musical number was “O Divine Redeemer” sung by a young soprano. It was lovely, reverent, memorized, obviously well rehearsed. The congregation seemed to be moved by that musical experience. Contrast that to some solo musical performances I’ve witnessed that made me want to run for the door. What makes a good solo performance for sacrament meeting?
1. Before asking someone to perform a vocal or instrumental solo make sure they are good at what they do. Sacrament Meeting isn’t the place to make the Saints suffer through an off-key screechy violin solo, or an older soprano who’s vibrato is so thick you can’t tell which notes she’s singing. Always remember the purpose of a musical number is to add to the spirit of the meeting, not detract from it.
2. Using the hymns and primary songs as a guide, choose a piece that will add to the spirit of the meeting. Stay away from music in a pop style, secular classical music, opera, etc. For a list of my favorite solos appropriate for sacrament meetings click HERE.
3. The ward music chairman should listen to ALL musical numbers before they are performed in sacrament meeting to make sure the music is appropriate and performed in a manner that would not take away from the spirit of that sacred meeting.
4. Vocal solos should usually be performed using a microphone, unless the singer has a really strong well-trained voice. The congregation has an easier time understanding the words when the microphone is used. A soloist should NOT self-accompany at the piano (Stevie Wonder style).
5. Instruments should tune with the piano prior to the beginning of sacrament meeting so they don’t have to take so much time tuning right before the performance. Hymns and primary song arrangements are the very best choice for instrumental performances. When an instrumentalist performs something familiar to the congregation, like a hymn, members are able to review the words of hymn in their minds while listening to the beautiful musical arrangement. When piano solos are performed the lid on the piano should be all the way up (using the longest pole). Click HERE for music ideas for piano solos.