The Choirmaster takes us to school. First up, talent.
On Tuesday, May 17, Ricky Dillard and New G released the follow up Live DVD to their recently released new CD, Keep Living. After attending the recording of the DVD, I sat down with Ricky last week for a long chat and then the gospel star enjoyed the highest first week sales in his career; it caused many of us in the gospel industry to discuss the resurgence of choirs and choir music and what it would take to keep it going. In my travels I get asked a lot for advice on choir leadership, directing, etc. and although I know a little something, it would definitely make more sense to go to “The Choirmaster” himself and get his view on the subject.
So, Ricky Dillard gave me his five tips on having a successful choir and I have to say I agree with them. So we’re going to tag team this thing. Each week I’ll add my own take to Ricky’s tips and by the time we get to the last tip, hopefully you’ll be able to map out a blueprint of success for your choir or maybe you’ll even be inspired to start one. Choirs are important and they must be maintained, so let’s get started.
Tip No. 5 from Ricky Dillard on having a successful choir is TALENT. Now this may sound obvious, but truthfully it has to be said. I’ve seen a number of choirs with members who really enjoyed singing but the natural gift to carry a tune just was not there. Although the mechanics of singing have to be learned over time, the initial ability to sing a melody and sound good doing it has to be there. To steal from an old cliché “you know it when you hear it.” So before you join the choir, sing for someone who you know will be honest with you. As a matter of fact, sing for a group of people. You’ll probably get one of three responses.
1. They’ll cringe or wince or leave the room. This means you sound like a wretched mess and probably should learn to sew or do something else that doesn’t require your voice making musical sound.
2. They won’t say or do anything. Essentially if you get no response chances are you should go with the last piece of advice to go do something else, chances are you’re not good. But if you want to be sure, ask them. Say “your face is blank, did you like it or not.” If they did, they’ll immediately say so. But if there’s hesitation? It’s a sign they’re trying to spare your feelings but really didn’t enjoy you. The latter part of Ephesians 5:19 says that you should make a melody in your heart, this scripture is just for you. But hopefully after singing for your audience you’ll get response
3. They’ll smile, rejoice or simply say “that was good.” In this case, it’s clear you have talent, can be taught and probably should offer it to the choir.
Check back next week as we move from talent to skill. If you thought they were the same, then you really need these tips. See ya next week!