Forum Replies Created
- October 6, 2017 at 3:18 pm #543446
For an established 5 octave ensemble, established library, experienced director that rehearses weekly 1.5 hours, mid september through mid-may, presents in worship monthly (oct through may, 6 to 7 times) two pieces in each service, $34. per hour, averages 6 hours a week.
P.T. employee status, paid hourly, no benefits. In January Fed law requires sick leave be included in all employee benefits!
3500 member church, about 2,000 weekly worshipping in 5 services, 9 mil. budget, middle to upper class setting, 5th largest city in Wa.
Please post cumulative replies. Thanks!
ScottMay 1, 2017 at 11:51 am #536386
Generally charges are determined by the length (fees per minute can range anywhere from $1000. [or less for lesser-known composer] to $3,000. , or more) and complexity (accompaniment). Having said that, you may find some individuals who will for a flat fee. I know that is wide variance–it just depends on who, on what level you want to engage. Better-known composers can be booked for a year or more in advance so if you are thinking of having a work done by August, and a smaller commission, you may want to “think local” and also honor the conductor by investing in a young, or otherwise more available and promising voice.October 6, 2016 at 10:33 am #522706
To reduce the work load on the choir, and since they knew the final movement of the Vaughan Williams I programmed the Vaughan Williams “Five Mystical Songs”. This also utilized a second baritone soloist on staff. I would have loved to included the Academic Festival Overture with the Mystical Songs but it would have put us over the budget for rehearsal time with the very fine professional orchestra. While it was a bit of a short first half I didn’t hear any complaints and musically it was a very complimentary pairing.
Best of luck
ScottAugust 15, 2016 at 11:11 am #520101
I believe this is a Federal tax issue and the information you quoted is accurate for at least 501c3 religious organizations as it has been explained to me by our Director of Finance. One can not collect tax deductible funds to benefit an individual but as it was mentioned, but can for a project of the organization so the “pool” concept is the result.
If the individual for whom the tax deductable gift doesn’t untimately participate I understand the funds can not be gauranteed to be returned–the intention is to support the organization, not even necessarily the project, or the the individual. However, if the project doesn’t fly I can’t imageine (but I don’t know for sure) there is anything that requires you to keep the gifted funds.
We provide a form letter that provides complete transparency to individuals who wish to solicit support from friends and family members to the project. It doesn’t seem to stop people from contributing.
I am not a lawyer or financial expert but this comes from one who has been instructed through Federal seminars on the tax code, as it has been explained to me and under the guidelines I’ve been instructed to work. A tax expert, or finding the tax doc from the gov would be your best to confirm.
Best of luck
ScottMay 13, 2016 at 11:45 am #515588
In a word, immensely! Think of shining a flashlight into a pillow. Now imagine shining it at a mirror. That light is the sound waves of your choir’s sound reflecting off the floor instead of it being absorbed and lost. The singers will hear themselves and one another better, and thier sound will be reflected into the room, assuming there isn’t other sound absoprtion around you. (Even if there is you would probably hear some improvement.) The only concern I would have is if the choir area floor is raised and you are essentially sitting on an empty box in which case the floor may act as a drum reverberating the sound of hard souled shoes as singers enter and exit, or tap thier feet. But that is a minor annoyance compared to the huge benefit from a reflective surface under the choir. Lucky you!
ScottMay 10, 2016 at 12:47 pm #515304
It is rare that I would repeat a piece in the same season–perhaps a favorite at the end of the year (June) but that is about it. However, I’ve been in my position many years so there is a depth of repertoire that I can call upon. Refernce–JS Bach and his three year cantata cycle following the lectonary. With quality literature and returning personnel a “core repertoire” can be developed to re-diret rehearsal time from “learning notes” to “re-learning/reviewing” and still add new pieces . Related–There are a few pieces I will use on the same ocassion each year, such as Wilhousky’s arrangement of “Battle Hymn” on Memorial Day weekend, “Hallelujah Chorus” on Easter, for example, some festival carol arrangments, but they are such favorites that I would probably get complaints if i didn’t do them!January 8, 2016 at 10:52 am #481420
December 3, 2015 at 10:14 am #479694Hi NickThree things have worked for me to “clean the slate”, all to varying degrees with different ages and abilities. I don’t think they are particularly unique–I would imagine most our colleagues do these sort of things:1. it may seem counter-intuitive and super simplistic but when a piece is memorized and, everyone’s eyes are on me I ask them to “read” my gestures and I simply vary the interpretation with dynamics, tempo, rubato (sometimes), and phrases (breaths). Of course that requires the group to know my gestures, or be capable and experienced enough to understand a conductor’s “signals”, and that the conductor can express them (youth [upper elementary] to adults).Training begins with the group simply following a 4/4 beat pattern and varying tempo, articulation, and dynamics while they speak 1-2-3-4.2. assume a character, and/or a mood: this especially engages most youth and children (and adults but only if they trust you enough to be playful and vunerable). To set-it up I provide the example with body language and a phrase to speak then I have them speak the musical text in rhythm and character followed quickly by singing it. Typical examples: a child on Christmas morning; a player winning the big game,or a parent seeing your child take their first step; child loosing their favorite toy or saying good-bye to someone you know you don’t want to leave, etc.That also works well with images of the environment: a tall, straight cedar, a tree swaying in the breeze [body movement and how would it sound if it could speak]; weather (wind, especially); animals/mammals (whale to birds). The trick is really finding a character that the people can adapt and singing from that embodiment.3. more technical: I call this “change-up”: mix-up the seating/standing or otherwise vary the acoustic, and tempo–make the setting as different as you possibly can, insist on watching, conduct it differently. Basically turn everything on it’s head.very techincal: this is not rocket science–I instruct, regardless of age, the basics of articulation (at least legato, staccato) and dynamics (including the basic “hair-pin” shaping of phrase for youth and phrase height [or climax/apex] for adults) and I simply ask them to experiment and sing the phrase using those devices differently (all staccato/legato; forte/piano; move the phrase apex).Simply re-assigning those interpretive devices, dictating them and they write it into their score (not very sexy but it is precise and quick) but that may not be what you are after because that makes the expression permanent. I always quickly follow that instructiong with the Horowitz quote (I think it was Horowitz) “you must always leave room for spontaneity in performance” . . . easy for a single pianist but not su much for ensembles, so watch your conductor.I am guessing that may be what you are getting at, at least in part–how do we teach our singers to allow for spontaneity and to be able to read our gestures instead of singing interpretively by rote.Good question!I hope these thoughts are of value to you and others and it generates sharing of other ideas.ScottOctober 30, 2015 at 1:01 pm #477792SarahPerhaps my experience, although a little different than what you describe, will be of help.I’ve used imagery for concerts of oratorios (Creation-Haydn, Elijah-Mendelssohn) and projection of just the text (with thematic/branded background for the concert production) for Messiah. I’ve also used projected art work (from medieval to modern) with Christmas and other Worship Through Music (all-music) services (choral/orchestral, classical/traditional environment). I’ve received only very positive comments. In one instance I used more photography to accompany Gjielo’s Sunrise Mass which uses the traditional Latin text in a non-traditional manner relating it to elements of nature and modern life also with great success.There are various philosophies among graphic artists who do this sort of thing in churches (both “contemporary” and traditional). They range from a literal point of view (I call it “Pictionary”, a literal image of the action of the text or music) to interpretive (using imagery to lead the viewer/listener to connect or intuit another aspect or message of the text/music) to experiential/emotional, e.g. using a abstract “motion background” to instill, or enhance a particular feeling of the music.At this point I should probably mention what I and perhaps many of my colleagues and even some graphic artists may believe: projected imagery is a distraction from the music, the performers, and shouldn’t be necessary. And I agree that it certainly can be. But when used judiciously, sensitively, and artistically it can also really enhance the concert and worship experience in this post-modern (or post-post-modern) age that is more experiential than it is cerebral.Sometimes we enjoy choral music the most when just letting the music roll over and through us, other times with the text in hand soaking in the marvelous poetry and association of text and sound. Either way, I think the best thing about screens being installed in churches (and concert halls?) is the ability to display the translation, or English text of what we are singing, when we are singing it. The heads of the audience are also raised and people are easier to engage! Just look at what supertitles have done for opera! I haven’t heard any complaints; only positive and appreciative comments in my setting.That aside, there are many issues to think through both in a major work, or a concert of individual works: consistency or juxtaposition of various periods and styles; consideration of a color palate within a movement, the major work, or concert theme; how much imagery and when do the images change? For me, answers to these questions come from the purpose and philosophy of imagery use, which can vary from project to project, and even, to a degree, within the concert itself. But for a major work, I prefer more consistency within the art style.To just mention a few technical issues, besides the very important issue of ownership, permission, and copyright of the art: the art work needs to be “rendered” by a graphic artist (that is size, shape and coloration—all of which can vary from venue to venue); horizontal imagery is best for the screen ratio but vertical works can be utilized with crop/zoom and can be very effective if the graphic size enables it; movement within the image can enhance or distract; a live operator using a production timeline (cue sheet) associating images to measure numbers, assuming you have multiple images per movement or work is easiest (not a video that runs with a live performance which, with tempo variations, could be a disaster); if the images dissolve into one another how long and what effect (all of these will be asked by the technician who puts the “show” together). Finally, there is a possible distraction of the imagery projection, and the light with the musicians, especially if the screen is in their sightline. I always include the projection in the dress rehearsal even if it is not aligned with the music, just so that element isn’t a surprise. If the musicians can see the images I ask them to not look. I provide recordings (from rehearsals or commercial recordings) to the art director, producer, technician for their preparation and practice of aligning image and music. The software, and hardware of projection and ambient light in the room is another topic entirely.Also to consider is colloaboration of the music director, art director, producer and technician. At the very outset I use a RACI (responsibility assignment matrix–you can Google or go to Wikipedia) chart to establish relationship and responsbilities for projects like this. I can imagine the potential of the tail wagging the dog if there is a limited resource for the art, or if there is a desire to feature the art over the music. So priorities need to be established–but such is the work of collaboration.
- weekly-2 hours; 2 annual Saturday “workshops” (with lunch) and sectionals introducing major works-7 hours each; 4, 3 hour dress rehearsals with orchestra for festivals/concerts
- Average attendance 100
- piano/organ accompaniment; brass/orchestra for festivals/concerts
- yes, most of the time 😉
- the answer to that is very subjective-depends on so many variables; I think we are at the average for the ability, repertoire, frequency, number of pieces in average service, and expectations of the singers and congregation; all the church choirs I’ve directed have had 90 min to 2 hour rehearsals
- We also have a select ensemble of singers (6 per part/SATB) who sing about every other month-they come with “notes learned” to two, one hour rehearsals for two selections in worship
Last thought: In my situation the problem (and I think one can call it that) now is, well, let’s call it a “joyful anticipation”, this be a regular element of the Christmas all-music services. It is a very time consuming process to find the art work, especially after having done this for five years or so. I only did text for Messiah (as compared to imagery with Creation and Elijah) and there were no disappointments. I just haven’t found anyone who really knows the music, the art, and who understands the setting and situation well enough to collaborate with, or the funds to hire someone if I did. I personally would also like to have a full range of art available to select from so while it would great to collaborate with a museum, it could also be limiting.This is longer that I anticipated but I hope it is helpful as a starting point since it may be the first post of on this subject.Best wishes,Scott DeanOctober 22, 2015 at 9:17 am #477285Mass of the Children John Rutter; requires SSA treble chorusOctober 16, 2015 at 12:05 pm #476919I’ve used William Bullock’s translation twice. However, the familiarty of the translation used in the G. Schirmer “of Wie lieblich” (I’ve forgotten the translator but all of the translations are copiously noted and compared in Bullock’s Forward/Addendum) was generally favored by the chorus and I acquiesed to thier favoritism. The edition is self published but is worth the search. I think it is best to try find Bullock himself.There was talk of Robert Shaw working on a translation for a planned performance with Mormon Tabernacle choir shortly before his death. I thought I saw a recording of that but never persued it.Best of luck!October 6, 2015 at 10:46 am #476194ThomasGreat ideas-thanks for sharing them!I am always on the look out for published arrangements that include congregation and often find choral arrangements of hymn settings where the congregation can sing with the choir. I am out of the office at the moment but if you’d like a list let me know.There are helpful resources of course too, such as Hal Hopson’s multi-volume “Creative Use” series. In the case of some modern hymns (Getty/Townend) with pian accompaniment there are arrangements available with a reduction of the strings (intended for synth) that work very well with the organ (see worship together.com and other such sites).I’ve been a little more aggressive with percussion to provide authentic color and rhythmic accompaniment for ethnic hymns, pairs of djembes to provide a moving pulse behind modern hymns (Getty/Townend tunes primarily) in traditional worship and incorporating authentic west African rhythmic patterns (see Bill Matthews publications) to accompany and transform traditional hymns (when the theme of the day calls for it) that move in straight quarter or half notes (e.g. Doxology, Old Hundredth).The congregation is the first and biggest “choir” in the church!ScottOctober 3, 2015 at 12:58 pm #476028Hi AllisonThis probably can’t be classified as “fun” but it uses movement and imagery . . .One of the physical imagery exercises I use is sonic space: singers make the pose of a “DaVinci man” (reference the drawing with arms lifted and spread, and legs apart) and imagine a 360 degree sphere or bubble that is each vocalists “sonic space” which I ask them to fill with their sound while singing expansize arpeggios. I progresively have them move further apart from one another and imagine their sphere becoming larger and ask them to keep filling it with their sound. I’ve noticed they don’t “push” or strain with this imagery and tone quality is sustained.Extending this I will ase them to outline the spehere with their arm making a large, circular, upward motion (as a “swimming backstroke”) to connect the voice with this freeiing movement/feeling) and singing an inverted arpeggio (1-5-3-8-5-3-1). We repeat the arpeggio three times from closed to open vowel (oo, o, ah) with one arm for “oo”, the other for “o” and both for “ah” and maintain the relaxed jaw and lifted ribs. I provide a rather large accomaniment to start then reduce it to just a chord at the beginning of each arpeggio.In an opposite exercise to focus the tone I ask them to sing with laser-like accuracy at a progressively smaller “bulls eye” on the board, or targets in the room, and sometimes use laser pointer to direct thier voice at the object.Acoustics can help or hinder. Try getting them in a reverberant field where they will be encouraged with the sound they hear and work with them to fill the room and experiment in different placements. Sometimes creating more space between singers requires them to sing out to hear each other (other times it can work conversely and I chalk it up to an “experiment”).Of course fundamentally if their mouths are not open (in a relaxed , not forced jaw down manner) not much sound is going to get out. Even with h.s. girls I’ve played with an alligator puppet to reflect what they are doing with thier mouth and remind them to open-up (without forcing the jaw down). I make sure to be very playful so they understand I am not treating them like an elemenatry chorus.Of course, larnyxs may still be growing at this age so if you haven’t already, make sure to get to know the voices individually to be certain your expectations align with the voices and thier maturation. The best text imho on the girl’s developing voice (and consider it to be indispenable for working with pre and pubescent females) is Lynne Gackle’s “Finding Ophelia’s Voice”.I hope this is helpful and wish you the bestScottOctober 1, 2015 at 9:38 am #475884AllisonIt would helpful to know their age range. You’ve used “girls” and “women” in your post.September 21, 2015 at 12:32 pm #475148One other Dan Forrest piece that is a beautiful and lyric that I did with my treble chorus last year, “What Strangers Are These”, accompanied.