HELP! Young church music director dealing with attitudes
Date: August 19, 2013
I'm a fresh college graduate (BA in Piano, with lots of choral experience, private voice, and choral conducting classes), and I've been the music director (choir director and organist) at a small church (8-10 = average choir attendance) for about a month. Prior to assuming the "music director" role, I was the organist for a year and a half, so I know how this choir is used to working. For the past several decades, the church had had very poor musical leadership, and quite frankly, the singers don't really don't know what it's like to have a productive rehearsal. Week after week, they would put up with frustrating rehearsals and performances, and as a result, they are not a very confident group. However, we (and especially I) were very fortunate to have an interim period of a few months where we brought in a worship consultant who was both a trained choral conductor and a pastor-in-training. She helped get the choir singing, ditching the piano for rehearsals and teaching by call and response. Much of the music she introduced was much simpler than what they were used to (not the four part classics), but it got them singing. She also got them reconnected with the congregation in terms of them leading singing during worship (something they hadn't really been doing due to where we had the choir stationed). My job now is to find a balance between the choir's rediscovered role as worship leaders (often involving simpler music) and their belief that they sing "real" choral music often.
There are a few members in the choir who simply don't trust my knowledge/expertise. Partly I feel it is because I am young. They give me blank stares and even laugh when I try to run warm ups, often not really giving them a try. I have been criticized in the middle of rehearsal for choosing music that is in unison. I am trying to challenge them within their bounds and build a healthy, unified choral sound through simpler music to start, but they're so used to showing up and slogging through four part choral music, even if it was a frustrating experience. It's very important to me that I use their volunteered time well, but they have voiced that they feel underestimated. I have planned in the coming months to sing some more difficult stuff.
I am thinking about contacting the aforementioned members individually, let them know I am listening and understand their concerns, but also tell them that I need their trust (something they're not giving me). Any thoughts about going forward?
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