Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The job of a music director

Poll question, for all who read this blog:

Is it the job of a music director, in instances of congregational singing, to have the people singing, or is it their job simply to make it easy for the people to sing? The latter I can do with little problem; the former requires that people consent to singing.


At Wednesday, April 05, 2006 4:26:00 PM, Anonymous Klaus der Gro├če said...

Yes. :)

More precisely: you have to provide music suitable for singing by a large group, and deploy your talents and the more skilled musicians at your disposal to make it easier on those who are less skilled, and thus "make it easy" to sing. As you have pointed out, this can be done pretty much without the active consent of the congregation. At the same time, you are a kind of pedagogue for your congregation, and so you need to lead them/persuade them that a) they can sing and b) they ought to sing when it is appropriate for them to sing. As we both have experienced, most congregations have significant musical inertia.

Like you, I have no easy answers for doing any of this, but for the purposes of your poll, I say that your job is to both facilitate and achieve singing, all the while expecting that you'll have much more success facilitating than achieving.

At Wednesday, April 05, 2006 5:10:00 PM, Anonymous brandon field said...

I second Herr der Grosse's opinion on this matter.

At Thursday, April 06, 2006 10:11:00 PM, Anonymous CastCantor said...

This is a good question for liturgical musicians to ask of their potential future employers.

At Monday, April 10, 2006 8:44:00 AM, Blogger Todd said...

Agreement with all comments so far. I'll also add that a music director might need two to three years to show progress for a particularly stubborn parish. A discerning pastor would know that and would throw resources needed into the effort. Including his own personal patience.

A parish music director should be in a position where her or his people skills in diplomacy and pedagogy, plus a basic posture of service are put to the test. A music director unable to develop a singing congregation might be in the wrong line of work.

At Monday, April 10, 2006 11:20:00 AM, Blogger PrayingTwice said...

a) people actually singing

b) director providing conducive atmosphere for singing

Well, a) seems to be the goal, but b) is the stepping stone for that. So it seems that it shouldn't be an either/or but a more sequential situation where b) leads to a).

Also, I agree with Todd that results are not always tangible immediately. A well-respected colleague of mine (who has much more experience than I) said that it takes 5 years for her to truly reach the level of participation that she wants to draw from the congregation.


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