Successful Choir Traditions
by W. Herbert Klopfer
"Latter-day Saints have a long tradition of choir singing. Every ward and branch in the Church should have a choir that performs regularly." (First Presidency Preface, Hymns, 1985, p. x).
"Every congregation should have a choir. If you don't have a ward choir, you are not organized fully any more than if you do not have a Relief Society" (Spencer W. Kimball in The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 518).
"The singing of hymns and the renditions of selections from the great sacred oratorios by ward choirs all enhance the spirit of worship" (Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, May 1987, p. 44).
A choir which favors secular music above sacred music on the Sabbath becomes a chorus. In that respect, they teach the ways of men and in doing so, miss the opportunity to inspire, and deny the power that they might otherwise have." (Boyd K. Packer, Ensign, November 1991, p. 21)
One of the important parts of our worship services is the congregational singing of hymns, in addition to the beautiful choir music" (Franklin D. Richards, Ensign, November 1982, p. 22).
Ward choirs and other special choirs have the power to teach and inspire Church members. The Spirit of the Lord will bear witness to members of the truths found in carefully selected music.
Following are some ideas for successful choirs:
1. Sing regularly. Performing stimulates choir members more than rehearsing. People have a way of rising to the demands of a performance. Minimum standards are one rehearsal per week and at least two performances per month. Performances in sacrament meetings may include singing in monthly testimony meetings.
2. Sing the hymns of the restoration. Simple hymn arrangements are preferred over large choral works. There are many simple ways of achieving variety in singing hymns, including singing in unison, singing in harmony, alternating male and female singers, singing in new ascending tonal keys, appropriate organ interludes, etc.
3. Encourage young people to sing in the choir. Teenage, young adult, and young married singers should be a welcome addition to any choir. Youthful voices add a luster sometimes lacking in more mature voices.
4. Encourage the development of small ensembles from the choir. Singers who perform in smaller groups (trios, quartets, etc.) acquire a vocal self-reliance which contributes to the choir's musicality.
5. Choir members should feel a commitment. There is great importance to singing in the choir. Members should be dependable in their attendance and preparation.
6. Always strive toward musical excellence and spirituality. Focus on worshipping the Lord and inspiring the listeners.