Are Mormon Men and Boys “Musically Disenfranchised?”

“Maybe, we can get the missionaries to sing.”

This seems to be the perennial solution to the shortage of men who participate in the ward choir.

The music in my ward seems to lie predominantly in the realm women. With very few exceptions, the ward music director, choir director and choir members are female. The Relief Society does a musical presentation every quarter, the Young Women seem to be on a similar schedule. Duets or quartets? Women or girls. Our priesthood quorums maybe get up there once a year. The Young Men? Almost never. What gives?

I have occasionally wondered why men don’t sing in the choir or sacrament meeting more often. I assumed it had something to do with the demographic of the women who participated. Frequently, the men stay at home to care for children while their wives come to choir practices. However, this does little to explain the lack of participation of unmarried or childless men as well as the Young Men. A recent reading of an essay in Proving Contraries: A Collection of Writings in Honor of Eugene England by Armand Mauss, has made me wonder if it’s something different.

In “Feelings, Faith and Folkways: A Personal Essay on Mormon Popular Culture” Mauss points out

…It is significant to me that I cannot recall the last time I heard a young man or boy, or even a male youth chorus, provide a “special musical number” for a sacrament service. By contrast, teenage girls are regularly featured, crooning at the microphone with loving words about Jesus set to melodies reminiscent of romantic ballads.

Mauss’ essay refers to Warrick Kear’s The LDS Sound World and Global Mormonism, Dialogue 34 (Fall/Winter 2001):77-91. Kear documents what he refers to as the “feminization” of both LDS hymnody and the relatively new genre of LDS popular religious ballads.

April_2006_young women song

Kear notes,

One has only to play and sing through a few examples of LDS sacred ballads and songs to recognize the deeply feminine nature of the vast majority. The LDS sacred ballad became especially popular with the young women both in church and at home, while LDS boys, in general, were left with only the hymn book as their sacred musical “standard” to which they could rally.

In a similar vein, he describes the greater inclusion of “feminine” hymns in the 1985 hymn book which he defines as “a gentler rhythm and pulse, slower tempi, less angular [and] more flowing melodic lines, with more introvertly personal or devotional lyrics” as opposed to a declining form of “masculine” hymn which is “generally energetic, with jaunty rhythms, fast tempi, strong pulse, wide-ranging melodies and powerful up-beat lyrics.”

Both Mauss and Kear point out that the designation of feminine and masculine categories is subjective, however, there are some trends which are undeniable. Mirroring an international decline of music making by young men in schools and churches generally, it would seem that LDS boys have less opportunity and perhaps even receive less encouragement to sing. Scouting and campfire songbooks as well as earlier music collections such as M.I.A. Let’s Sing and Recreational Songs have disappeared. These offered songs which were “geared for the outdoor, robust pursuits and aspirations of boys and men”. Since their discontinuation, apparently a very small amount of music has appeared to fill the gap in the male song genre in LDS culture.

Both these essays raise good questions. Has the LDS sound world become gendered and as a result, are Mormon men and boys musically disenfranchised by such a movement?

Comments

  1. Maybe the men don’t sing because the choir never performs Led Zepplin songs.

  2. Get some U2 going…lots of stuff from the Bible in their music, including Ps 40, aptly titled “40.”

    Oh, well…

  3. Interesting idea, Mathew.

    Kear notes, “If the young men of the church are singing the songs of Zion only on a Sunday, and that reluctantly in many cases, and humming the songs of the world the rest of the week, so to speak, it does not auger well for the perpetuity of the church’s rich musical culture”.

  4. Steve Evans says:

    Kris, the expression “the perpetuity of the church’s rich musical culture” presumes that we currently have a rich musical culture. I don’t believe we do. We have immense levels of talent, but little musical culture (as I griped on the Correlation thread).

  5. This just reminds me of that Simpsons episode where they sing “In the Garden of Eden” due to some scheming by Bart.

    More seriously though, might it be due in some part to pueberty? The first introduction to non-sharing-time singing is right about the age where boys voices go wonky on them. They’re afraid enough of speaking, let alone singing in public. I can see that they would connect that fear of having a ‘bad voice’ to any sort of serious singing in church.

  6. I grew up in a fairly musical family and trained vocally as a teenager. It is true that I wouldn’t ever sing in a choir that performed those modern ballads; however, I did my fair share of singing in church. Perhaps, when there are not trained singers among the male demographic, they just don’t want to participate as all the songs that are easy enough to sing are of ballad flavor. And really, wasn’t that one of the aims of the new hymnal – to make the hymns easier?

  7. Maybe I just live in an unusual ward. Here, the boys all seem to have figured out that the girls looooooooooove it when they sing! Ward choir is the place to be!

  8. I don’t remember encountering a lack of male singing participation much in the wards I’ve attended.

    I’ve attended wards with male organists. In one ward the music leader (a woman) would teach the youth to lead music, and there were regularly both male and female teens leading the hymns in sacrament.

    The ward with a lot of teen girls singing ballads was balanced by both teen boys singing and playing piano numbers.

    The ward I’m in now has a big deficit of musical talent–there’s actually a player piano in RS because there’s such a shortage of people who can play. We used to have a woman come in from another ward to play the organ during our SM, but eventually a woman moved in who can play. We don’t get many musical numbers.

  9. Kris,

    I think I will take my place in history as the only member of the church who was asked to withdraw from the ward choir. The director pulled me aside after practice one Sunday and requested that I not participate anymore because, as she put it, I “kept mixing up the other basses”.

    Fair enough. I certainly had no illusions about my abilities, and had only started going to choir because they were begging for bodies of the male variety. So your observation is correct, probably twice as many women as men enjoy choral singing and are good at it.

    Here is one possible reason. Adolescent men spend about a year of their life not knowing what is going to come out of their mouths when they open them. Once I was blessing the sacrament in church and was surprised to hear my voice in a different octave than I expected. At the age when I could have been learning to sing well, I was too self-conscious to try. Garrison Kiellor has a hilarious take on the choir at Lake Wobegone high school where all the boys try to listen to their neighbors and then “slide” into the note. And to make matters worse, the director is a pretty woman who wants them to sing “April is in My Mistress’ Face” which contains the phrase “In her bosom lies September”. She requires each boy to sing the part alone so she can give individual help, and Kiellor describes the hormonal overload that occurs, and the effect it has on his voice, every time he says tries to sing “bosom”. If you’ve been around 16 year old boys much, you’ll know what he means.

    Mathew,

    I think our doctrine of progession is described well in Stairway to Heaven, and any Christian religion worthy of the name should be able to accomodate Whole Lotta Love.

  10. Elisabeth says:

    I recently saw the movie Sons of Provo. I think we should incorporate the soundtrack into the LDS repertoire, because I’m sure then more boys would be interested in singing (especially if they got to wear the cool wireless head microphones).

    Here’s a sampling of the Sons of Provo songs:

    Love Me, but Don’t Show Me
    Spiritchal as Me
    Sweet Spirit (a ballad)
    Nourish and Strengthen Our Bodies and Do Us the Good That We Need
    Dang, Fetch, Oh My Heck 

    P.S. The movie itself is, well, totally lame, and a blatant ripoff of the movie Spinal Tap. But there are a few good laughs.

  11. Rosalynde says:

    As is typical with nearly art forms, women are predominantly consumers, service-providers and popularizers, while a few men are the serious producers and interpreters. Thus you have women purchasing and listening to LDS music, providing keyboard and choral direction at church, and popularizing (e.g. Janice Kapp Perry). But the majority of serious LDS composers and interpreters are still men. I don’t like it, but that’s the way it is.

  12. Mark IV–I like your suggestion.

    Our ward choir is directed by a professional violinist cum professor of music at Columbia. Our ward is small and the talent pool not very deep, but he gets a lot out of them. This past Sunday they gave a great performance–but the men were definitely stronger than the women.

  13. Where are the Luddites when we need them??

    It’s time to smash all the I-Pods, toss the CD players out the window, dump the stereos and don’t let any hi-fis or transistor radios or record players survive the onslaught.

    Then we might see a resurgence in music making among all us in the great unwashed masses. And, then perhaps we’ll have some men in the ward choir.

    Of course, we’ll have to have some good, challenging music–not sappy, treacly lyrics sung in unison. It’s not just the feminization of music so much music that turns adolescent males off, it’s also the infantilization of it. What self-respecting 16-year-old wants to sing children’s songs that he was happy to escape four years earlier when he left Primary?

    On another note, I would happily give up my current church calling (and all those I’ve held for the past quarter century) if I could be the J. Rufus Crandall of my ward. (He was, for all you incognescenti, the tsar of church music in Snowflake, Arizona, during the 20′s and 30′s and 40′s, and the Lord have mercy on your soul if you happened to schedule anything–church, school, civic activity, birth, death–on choir night. They’d begin with the youth, and then the women, and then the men and then the ward choir.) We need more wards like that.

    The other thing: we need priesthood leaders to set the example. It’s tough, when you’re already conducting the meeting or speaking or whatever to go join a men’s quartet or the choir–it begins to feel as if you’re a one-man band. But, consider the other end of the spectrum–bishoprics who mumble the words of the hymns, at best, or use congregational singing time to catch up on details of the program, or who call a hymn sung in the middle of the meeting a “rest hymn”. How can we expect men or boys (or women or girls, for that matter) to take music seriously?

  14. Molly Bennion says:

    Our ward has the stake’s best choir, is led by a man, and boasts almost as many men as women. When the same choir director was in another ward in the stake, they had the best choir. If we want good music, we must use the talented musicians and directors as much as they would like. I know some feel ghettoized in music, but others, like our choir director, would like to direct for life and have no heart for other callings. Also, the music he chooses is almost exclusively classical and often rousing.

  15. My ward’s choir has run heavily to men in terms of who shows up and sings. Mostly basses. Of our last five bishops, three are singers (all three are basses also) and that has made a difference in how the choir has functioned and a bit in male participation.

    However, let’s keep in mind that adolescence is when we lose lots of young men anyhow. Church things aren’t cool, and there is nothing most young men want more than being cool. Singing, especially singing church songs is rarely cool, and making fun of others singing is really easy and can be cool.

    Also, there is a point to be made about what we have in the hymnal for male voices. Personally, I’m a frustrated baritone that sung bass for many years because it was easier to hear and because singing bass is not as girly as singing tenor can be seen as. As I got older and more secure in my masculinity, I decided to try some tenor things, and I can do a passable second tenor. However, I have a difficult time with many hymns because the bass part goes too low, or the tenor part goes too high, or, sometimes both. I’ve taken to singing alto an octave down because alto parts usually have better harmonies and they fit my range reasonably well most of the time.

    Traditional Mormon music (what we usually sing now) tends to be rather like our buildings — pleasant, plain, and occasionally beautiful. There is a snobbery of music styles that has been overlayed with moral tones such that certain instruments are seen as things that the Holy Ghost is scared of, and so they must be avoided. I don’t see the Holy Ghost as being that much of a wuss, but then I’m nobody of consequence, so nobody much cares about my thoughts on the matter.

    I would like to see Mormon music enriched by the many cultures that our current membership come from. I would like to see more Gladys Knight and Thurl Bailey and less Orrin Hatch going on. JKP/SKP I have no particular problem with, although their stuff can start sounding a lot the same.

    But Sacrament Meeting music is going to be a cultural battleground for a long time. I was in an institute choir that practiced a piece called “A Marvelous Work,” co-written by Gerald Lund prior to his GAness, which uses as its text the early section of the D&C along with “The Spirit of God” in a very pretty duet. Our main performances were singing in the adult session of Stake Conference — sometimes it was our only public performance for half a year. Two weeks prior to the conference we were told that we couldn’t perform the piece because we could only perform songs from the hymnal, by the direction of the visiting General Authority. So we scrambled and threw together a piece we had performed the previous year (this went across the last two weeks of school for the college students, and we lost many of them) and it was nowhere near what the original piece could have been. It was particularly frustrating as this was right before the Sesquicentennial with the song “Faith in Every Footstep” that used the same section of the D&C to base its text on (but wasn’t nearly as nice of a song) that was sung over and over and over all year (second only to Come, Come Ye Saints iirc).

    Paranoia that something popular or of questionable doctrinal correctness is going to keep most local leaders pretty close to hymnal arrangements and a scant handful of musical instruments for Mormon Music until some clear support from the top comes through with usable guidelines that allow for expansion of the musical environment.

  16. D. Fletcher says:

    I’m one of those that has no “heart” for other callings. I’ll happily play the organ, and/or lead the choir until I die.

  17. I think there’s a more important reason than the nature of available music, changing voices, and lack of confidence in singing ability that keeps teenage boys from singing. It’s that it’s not cool. From what I gather (having seven sisters), Girls sing all week long at girls camp. They have cutesy, annoying songs and cheesy, spiritual, annoying songs and they love them, and they bring them home with them and sing them ad nauseum. In my experience, boy scouts don’t sing. I know that if a leader in my scout group suggested that we sit around the campfire and sing songs he’d get a lot of grumbles, a lot of “this is lame”s, and very little participation, if any. Unless, of course, the songs had something to do with dismemberment or making fun of girls or both.

    I don’t remember any boys in my ward growing up who sang in sacrament meetings or talent shows or anything like that, but if they had there’s a good chance that they would have been regarded as mama’s boys or otherwise marginalized.

    It’s not cool to by churchy, even at church.

  18. Blain got to the cool thing before me.

    The coolness problem only really applies for adolescents, I think. I don’t know if adult men are less likely to sing than women. Women outnumber the men in many wards, so that would explain a lot of the disparity in some places.

  19. I agree that boy see it as “not cool” and this is a failing in their leaders. Music will always be a part of the Church and would be a much nicer part of our services if the male leaders would be better examples about it.

    I think it is interesting that our current hymnal is thought “girly.” There are WAY too many war hymns in there for my taste. And nary a feminine pronoun.

  20. Kevin Barney says:

    I don’t think it’s a case of the songs being too feminine or ballady. I agree with Blain and others about the “not cool” perception of singing among the boys.

    And the lameness of the singing in priesthood (where it is totally acceptable to truncate the hymn to the first verse only, sung in halting monotone without harmonization).

    I love to sing, and supported the ward choir, when we had one. (There was one other regular male singer that could be counted on to show; the rest were women.) But we don’t have enough bodies to field a choir at all anymore.

  21. I would say that it’s a failing in our culture (if it is a failing–I don’t consider it a big deal) that makes singing uncool.

    Adult leaders are not cool and more adult leaders singing would do nothing to make singing acceptable among boys. If anything it would make it less cool. Adolescent boys care most about how they’re regarded by their peers. Their peers judge their coolness or uncoolness, and they look to sports stars and popular musicians to define cool. If Lebron James or Billy Joe Armstrong sang “Elders of Israel” at church, then you might see an increase in boys singing in church.

    This is, of course, a generalization. There are some boys who are individualistic and confident enough to not care about coolness. But they’re rare.

  22. Mark Butler (II) says:

    When I was a teenager (1980s), the occasional fellow who had the temerity to sing as part of a duet in sacrament meeting was openly derided by his peers. Not only that, some of our leaders occasionally made negative comments about guys (e.g. me) who merely participated in congregational singing.

    There is certainly plenty of the old time “muscular” Christianity in the Hymn book, but the general tenor of newer developments is another story. Most new hymns tend to be on the touchy / feely side. How often does anyone write hymns like “True to the Faith (Shall the youth of Zion Falter)” or “O Say What is Truth?” anymore? Instead much softer hymns predominate – “Lord I would follow Thee” or “Because I have been given much” are good examples.

  23. I guess the situation is better that in earlier centuries when women couldn’t sing in the churches.

    I know of one surefire way to get men excited about choir: pay the singers. Then the music would be a lot better too.

    Also, if there were a real music education effort, things would change. People are much more excited to participate in things they are good at and understand, rather than what they consider some kind of boring duty.

  24. From what I gather (having seven sisters), Girls sing all week long at girls camp. They have cutesy, annoying songs and cheesy, spiritual, annoying songs and they love them, and they bring them home with them and sing them ad nauseum.

    Tom, your sisters and I went to very different Girl’s Camps. I suppose we sang songs but other than the very, very silly “I’m a nut” and maybe some other camp staples like “Sipping Cider Through a Straw,” I don’t remember any.

    While I don’t particularly oppose a music education effort of some kind I would like to remind everyone that the church’s job is to teach the gospel, not scales. :)

  25. 19 & 21 — The failing is in the concept and attraction of “cool.” Michael Kelly (prior to being killed in Iraq) wrote an essay that blamed the downfall of civilization on Frank Sinatra for being cool, and helping to bring cool to be one of the most values in our culture, particularly for young boys. I think he has a heck of a good point. Think about all of the things that you need to do to be a good husband, father, priesthood holder, or man. Think of the things you need to do (in other words) to attain the Celestial Kingdom. Think of the things the Savior went through in his mortality. Then think of how many of those things really qualify as “cool,” and how many are, in fact, very “uncool.”

    By my count, the good things are only occasionally (at most) cool, and are almost always uncool. To prove it backwards, ask any ten random adolescent boys what’s really considered cool right now, and see how many of those things are legal, let alone fitting within the guidelines of “For the Strength of Youth.”

    I don’t begin to know how to combat that. Huey Lewis tried making it Hip to be Square, but almost nobody under 30 knows who he is.

  26. Proud Daughter,

    If large numbers or church members were illiterate would it be only of secondary importance to teach them to read?

    A choir consisting of members who can read music is able to accomplish much more and much more quickly, leaving more time for other important gospel duties.

    A little investment in education will pay big dividends. Many people burn out on choir attendance because they’re bored out of their minds by the rote learning approach.

  27. What did me in many years ago was a long-term dictatorial ward chorister who made every Sunday’s “practice hymn” a living hell for anyone not completely into it.

    But honestly, I’ve just never been interested in singing in the ward choir, so no amount of friendly coercion or persuasion has convinced me, though I am happy for those do contribute to the choir.

    Now, if church choirs ever become like the one I once saw at the Bell Grove Baptist Church in Clarksdale, Mississippi — *then* I might reconsider…

    Robert

  28. I think that boys sing less than girls starting at a much younger age. It isn’t a puberty problem.
    Now, I am talking generalizations, but anyone who works with kids knows kids are individuals, but you can kind of predict certain things. For instance, MORE boys are in special ed preschool for developmental delays, MORE boys have language delays, MORE boys have ADHD, MORE boys have learning disorders. (MORE boys also have some really great traits as well).
    Boys in primary tend to sing less than girls in primary. I think there are a few reasons.
    1. Boys typically develop verbal skills later than girls. So, even the nursery will have more girls who who can actually sing and more boys who can’t talk, let alone sing.
    2. On average, at the primary ages, girls sit still better than boys. Girls pay attention better than boys. Singing time in primary is similar to school. It is generally geared toward a learning style that girls excel at more than boys. Boys can often be engaged more with kinetic learning (physical action).
    3. Boys don’t think singing is cool from sunbeams to 12 year olds. Girls just seem to enjoy it more.
    The boys (on average) tend to have more kids that are wiggling or staring off into space.

    My son is a more extreme case. He almost never sings in primary. At age four he even covered his ears when the primary sang in sacrament.
    He can certainly sit still, he doesn’t have that problem, but he sits there as if nothing is happening around him at all. Sometimes I think the music really is more noise than music to him.
    However, when he was a toddler/preschooler, he did love playing toy instruments. Perhaps I can interest him in an instrument down the road.

  29. It may be a problem with the primary songs too. Back when I was in Primary, pre-correlation, we sang fun songs too, which were age-appropriate. Now, the songs all have to be “spiritual”, and many of them, the Articles of Faith ones come to mind immediately, are boring, ugly and difficult to sing, even by an adult, let alone a kid. I am sure that I gained a great love of music in Primary, but I can’t imagine that I would now. (And I’m female.)

  30. One thing I noticed in my last ward was that in priesthood meeting they would invariably pick a young man from the Aaronic priesthood to “lead” the opening song. The unfortunate youth would then stand up there, feeling like a fool, half-heartedly waving his hand a little above waist-level, approximately in time with the music, until the ordeal ended and he could sit down again. I considered complaining to the Bishop about this practice, because I found it to be almost offensive. I think it showed a complete disregard for the whole idea of worship through music. I don’t think leading the music should be treated as a form of hazing. The best solution would probably have been just to do without a “chorister,” since almost nobody would follow one anyway.

    Another time I was in a ward with lots of musical talent, but we didn’t have a piano in the room where the priesthood met. It turned out this was a great advantage, in my opinion. We were able to sing the hymns a step or two lower, which made it easier for everyone to hit the high notes. Also, some people would sing harmony, and the lack of a piano really made it easier to hear the harmonies, and the singing was just generally more robust. I think we should have more a capella singing in general in the church. I get pretty sick of always having to have a piano banging out the same four parts that we’re supposed to be singing.

  31. Kristine says:

    Proud Daughter, Brigham Young called missionaries specifically to go around teaching music, so it was at least at one time regarded as important to educate members about music. You can disagree with him, but as for me and my house…

    ;)

  32. Kevin Barney says:

    Ed, they do that in my ward, too (make the AP “lead” the music in priesthood).

    No one should be asked to lead who doesn’t actually know how.

  33. Random points –

    The coolness problem is not unique to the church, or to teenagers. My 8-year old daughter’s children’s choir is probably about 75-80% female.

    Ancecdotal evidence doesn’t amount to squat. I’ve been in wards where the men sang and the women didn’t and vice versa. That said, here’s mine. In my current ward, we have many good male voices who don’t sing in the choir because they have callings that often have responsibilities that conflict with choir practice — I’m in this group. Also, men with piano/organ ability far outnumber the womenwith such abilities in my current ward.

    There’s almost never a good reason just to sing one verse of a hymn.

    I start each of my Gospel Doctrine classes with a hymn, and with almost every meeting where I preside.

    Primary should be about 75% singing time.

    Every family should have a Children’s Songbook and a green hymnal in their home, and should use them regularly in Family Home Evening (OK, my hymnbook is orange).

    I’m with Bill. Education is important. Not everyone has the means to learn to play the piano, but anyone who can read can learn sightsing.

  34. Trevolution says:

    I was once part of a trio that was to sing a very beautiful rendition of A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief in sacrament meeting. However, the young man who was speaking before us thought it was pretty lame, so he rambled on and on and on so that we would run out of time. The bishop actually stood up and whispered in his ear that he needed to end his talk twice. I’m pretty sure that the rest of the young men thought it was very funny, so I agree on the whole singing not being cool, but I’d also like to say that if singing ain’t cool, then I don’t want to be either!

  35. 34 — Rock on, Trev. Cool just isn’t important, really. Singing, otoh, is a good thing.

  36. I’m one of the exceptions to the rule I guess, I (a guy) have sung in my ward choirs since the bright age of 14. Interestingly enough, at that time all the basses we youth (myself and two of my friends) while the tenors were three or four older men depending on the week.

    What really bothered me was the fact that of the maybe 50 young men in the ward, I would have to say twenty were in some sort of school choir. Yet, only the two friends of mine would participate in ward choir (I never did choir in school – no time). I think one reason these male singers (who obviously love to sing and do it well) don’t come to ward choir because it is ‘below’ them. It is a big pet peave of mine to see an 18 year old guy sing a wonderful solo in church but still will never grace our choir with his abilities. I guess they are used to the semi-professional concert choir of their school and don’t want to sing with people who are not the best sight readers or may miss a note sometimes.

  37. I missed the beginning of this thread and haven’t had time to read all the comments but just wanted to state that I agree there seems to be a hesitancy on the part of men to join the choir and, in general, to participate in singing in the church. But Friday night the men of the priesthood sang at a ward function and on Sunday at Ward Conference our small choir made up of 5 men (3 basses and 2 tenors) and 6 women (4 sepranos and 2 altos) sang in the service. In both cases we were awesome!

  38. P.S. Did I mention that our choir director is a man?

  39. My father just sang in a “priesthood leaders choir” for a “special musical number” yesterday in his stake conference in Utah. All the bishoprics, high council, and stake presidency participated. He said that most of the men had little, if any, musical experience…but that they improved greatly over the course of several months of preparation. I would love to see more of this type of musical number in the future.

  40. The men of the church are the best singers. Witness the MoTab. Singing in Priesthood meeting is twice good (at least) as women’s singing. The problem is that men learn too fast for the women and ward choir boors them.

    It is tragic but pop music has destroyed women’s singing.

  41. Chad Too says:

    There was a thread on Mormon men and music and I didn’t find out about it until now?!?!?! Darn new office internet policy…

    We just had a stake choir and orchestra convened for a special musical presentation (NOT Janice Kapp Perry ;-)) and the choir director, a sister relatively new to our stake, was amazed to find that the section with the highest numbers was her tenor section! We doubled the rest! Also, two of the young men from my ward played in the orchestra.

    In our Ward Choir, the brother who directs makes a point of asking dads to bring their daughters and post-voice-change sons to choir with them, and for them to invite their friends. we more-experienced (read: old) singers wrap our arms around them and help them learn. I’d guess our ward choir is about 2/3 adults and 1/3 youth.

    Our Bishop has asked that choir leader to have the Priesthood sing once a quarter. He chooses a hymn with a mens arrangement, we divide into sections, we sing it for our opening song every week for a month or so, then all get up to sing on the selected Sunday. No big deal if everyone’s doing it.

    Perhaps its a function of ward attitude to some degree. A ward that privileges music and extends the opportunity to as many as possible establishes what becomes a valued part of the worship and outreach of that ward.

    Oh, and as a man who has directed several youth choirs along the way, it doesn’t hurt to point out to the YM that the girls really dig on the guys who sing! Keeps ‘em coming back week-after-week!

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