When the pastor drives away the singers...
  • Hello all,
    I don't often post on the forum, but I would like some input on a situation I found myself in this past Sunday. It was our first Sunday having the choir back in the loft. As I expected, we had a smaller turn out than usual. In fact, we only had one bass and one tenor who appeared for rehearsal. (On a "normal Sunday" we will usually have between 6-8 singers, so a smaller crowd isn't a huge surprise, for me at least.) I knew the tenor would be late, so the bass and I rehearsed together for about 20 minutes before the tenor was to arrive. Everything went very well. The tenor arrives and we go through everything again. At this point people are beginning to arrive to pray before Mass and Father is preparing things for Mass. During rehearsal the tenor didn't have too much trouble with going over what we all learned a few nights earlier in choir rehearsal, but the bass was having some issues matching pitch. He is a bit hard of hearing, and it isn't too out of the ordinary for him to miss a note here or there when other singers are present. But once we go through the music again, everything is fine during Mass. We finish our brief rehearsal and it is time for me to begin the prelude. Occasionally our pastor will come up into the choir loft and tell me something he forgot to mention earlier, such as an anniversary blessing immediately after the homily. And sometimes he comes up to tell me these small details as I am playing the prelude. This doesn't really bother me, so when I see him approach the organ console, I encourage him to tell me what is going on even though I am playing. Rather than talking to me, he turns to my two choir members and starts telling my choir members that if they "can't find the right notes right away, to sing a little quieter until you can find the right notes." He proceeds to tell them that it sounds bad from downstairs when they sing wrong notes and that when he was in choir in seminary if he couldn't find the correct note he would just sing very quietly until he could. Please note that during this entire conversation I continued to play the prelude. I was astounded at the fact that he was saying this directly to the members of the choir. The pastor was in no way angry or mean in how he said what he said, but the singers he made those comments to are not the most confident, and we have been working very hard in the last year, and also in just two rehearsals this year, to improve their abilities as volunteer singers.
    The comments that were made upset me greatly. I took some time during the Mass to just pray that I could find the words to adequately, gently, but firmly tell our pastor how I felt about the situation. After Mass, and after everyone had left the church, I spoke with him about what had happened. I explained to him that I was very upset in the way he said and what he said to those two choir members. I explained to him that these two men struggle with confidence as singers, and when he came and told them what he did just minutes before Mass was to begin, that did nothing to help their confidence as singers. I told the pastor that these men dedicate their time and talents as a service to the church and out of a love for God and the people of our parish. They know they are not there to perform, they are there to pray and to help others pray. The pastor explained to me that he didn't want me to be "the bad guy", but I explained to him that it is my job to be "the bad guy". I can tell the choir members what needs work, but with a sense of helpful criticism, not out-right accusation. The pastor then went on to say that especially on that day he wanted things to sound good. I was appalled that he would phrase it in that way, and told him that I want everything to sound good at every Mass. He once again said he did what he did so that I wouldn't have to be the bad guy. I told him next time, and every other time, I will be the bad guy and he completely understood. I'm not sure if he realized how upset the whole situation made me, but we did come to an agreement.
    I felt so bad about everything that later that night I sent individual emails to each of the two choir members apologizing for what went on that morning, that it was my hope they wouldn't take what was said personally and that I really enjoy working with them and look forward to another great year together. The next morning I had a response from each one. The tenor responded saying that he took what was said with a grain of salt and is looking forward to rehearsal later this week. The bass replied saying that he was no longer going to be singing in the choir. I won't repeat what was said in the email, but I know from what he wrote that the pastor's comments had a major impact on that decision. I will be meeting with the pastor later this week to discuss this once again with him. Because we are a small (but mighty) choir, the pastor has expressed concern in the past about having so few people in the choir. I remind him every time that I would rather have 6 or 8 very dedicated choir members who really love what they do than 12-15 choir members who show up every once in a while and don't really care. Unfortunately because of the pastor, I will be missing one of our more dedicated choir members.
    This has turned into quite the block of text. But I care very much for the people I have the privilege of working with every week and it hurts me to see them being spoken to like this by a leader of the church. Has anyone had similar experiences? I honestly hope not...
  • Theo
    Posts: 50
    I'm sorry about this difficult situation. I take it that your choir consists of all volunteers. For choir recruitment, it could make a difference if you speak with parishioners in person, invite them to attend a rehearsal, encourage each choir member to bring a friend to a rehearsal, etc.

    Sometimes people can be very sensitive to negative comments. If something similar happens again, perhaps you could have a talk with the pastor, but be as diplomatic as possible as he's also your boss.

    Does the pastor appreciate music? Does he have his own agenda regarding music? I wonder if his behavior is a sign of something deeper. Perhaps you need to figure out what he wants.

    As for singers who are dedicated but struggle with pitch, invite them to work with you privately once in a while. In the future, perhaps you could hold auditions so to make sure that all choir members can at least hold pitch.
  • It's simple. Talk to Father, have him agree to meet with the Bass for dinner somewhere and let Father pull this guy back into the flock.

    It would be a good witness for the Bass to be asked to dinner and get to talk with Father.

    If he is big enough to do this, and I hope that he is, you will get your Bass back and also have a pastor who will remember to talk to you about your singers and not deal with them directly.

    It's pretty impressive that he was listening and felt moved to identify with the singers and relay his own experience at seminary. It appears that prior to you he had people who were not as competent as you are and that colors his perception of what should be done...your honesty with him should go a long way.

    These crummy situations, if handled carefully, can deepen your relationship with Father and, if he meets with the Bass, strengthen that relationship as well.
  • Carl DCarl D
    Posts: 992
    I agree with TCC. You're lucky that this didn't end up far worse - it sounds like people were generally tolerant of mistakes. I can understand the Pastor's point of view - it might have seemed to make sense at the time, but we all make mistakes. It's a process of learning, growing, and deepening the relationships.

    Good job at staying cool in a tough situation, Organista, and handling it in a confidential manner. And it's OK to be a bit protective of "your" choir, but don't take that too far. When you put up too many barriers, that just drives people away.
    Thanked by 2R J Stove CHGiffen
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    I second Noel and Carl's wise advice. I'm going to amplify Theo's very apt suggestion.
    We have a male singer in one of my ensembles who's singing history in the last twenty years is full of peaks and valley's. He's a very gregarious sort, loves to sing (which results more in a bellowing effect.) We recently started chanting the SEP's at the Contemporary (let's not digress with that) Mass. A number of my auditioned schola women do double duty at this Mass, so the opportunity to have lovely soprano chanting was an easy call. But our guy one day said "I want to learn how to chant." Jokingly, I offered as how I needed him to get from a Pavarotti perspective to a Michael Buble relaxed mode. Didn't know he hated Buble. Anyway he didn't appreciate the suggestion, so after Mass I privately reassured him that I appreciated his contribution and his zeal to learn anew (ie. chant.) I committed myself to providing him private 45 minute sessions with the Parish Book of Chant and the SEP's. He's exceeded all expectations every session and this one objective, "learn chant," is now also becoming good vocal coaching in many physiological and psychological improvements.
    So, it's been a lesson for me. Sure, I did the very same thing as a jr.Hi and High School choral teacher with a huge program. But when I retired there, outside of some minor studio students' experiences, never considered "donating" my work time to individual coaching. But it pays off. Maybe we can't all do one on one sessions, but we can do class voice workshops outside of the "rehearsal goal" of learning the parts for Sundays.
    Thanked by 1toddevoss
  • It's very easy to forget that a persons voice is a part of them, so naturally any criticism leveled at their voices is a crack at them personally. Praise has the opposite effect. This is simply the nature of singing and singers. They will, however, take criticism better from someone they trust musically, such as the director, because they know that he is able to help them correct the problem.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • It helps if the choir has a separate room in which to rehearse. You won't get people saying things like that to your singers.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,675
    Perhaps your pastor could find money to allow you to get a couple of paid singers. Even college voice majors looking for part-time work could help in building your choir. This might help in attracting volunteers. I am not suggesting you do it permanently, but for a year or so while you are building up your choir. Agreed on rehearsing somewhere else.
    Thanked by 1R J Stove
  • WendiWendi
    Posts: 638
    Bringing in paid singers might also drive the volunteers away. Be sure you know the emotional dynamics of your parish and the history of the choir program before taking that step.

    Thanked by 1melofluent
  • If you do bring in paid ringers, it really isn't anyone else's business in the choir to know that they are paid. You would have to establish that fact with the paid ringers upon hiring them. They are not to discuss that they are compensated for their time.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    In theory it ought not to be anybody else's business, CB, but we are talking about the Catholic Church, right?
    Here's what I believe about making "wholesale changes" or adjustments to a parish music program.
    1. They should and can be made upon a change in leadership of any given ensemble or the entire program. If a new director wishes to audition singers, pay scholars, whatever, that perogative should be stated clearly between the new director and pastor, then "published" or announced to any/all interested parties.
    2. Under a current director with X years of tenure: don't change an existing choir's criteria for membership on any permanent basis, ie. choral scholars on a 1099 time clock. If you're up against the wall doing Bach's Magnificat without sufficient tenor horses, rent them that time only, you'll get a pass from the choir. If you want choral scholars to bolster your artistic aspirations, start a new choir with your quartet/octet in place upon first rehearsal. But thoroughly think through very strategically how this will or won't affect other existing choirs or ensembles. There has to be a rationale in force with more demanding criteria for non-ringers, otherwise you might be "robbing Peter to pay Paul" with some of your anchor personnel of the existing choirs who want to upgrade, so to speak. Tricky business.
    3. In a majority of "regular" non-cosmopolitan parishes, the volunteer base of singers, instrumentalists, and perhaps even organists can respect the professional director and professional principle organist without the layer of the semi-pro ringer as anchor to the sections. If the director is comprehensively talented, they should be able to teach and train even the most native of talented singers to achieve choral excellence. And you lessen the odds of the finance council or a new pastor breathing down your neck about how you manage your budget.
    That's all I got.
  • Melofluent has some excellent suggestions and I've employed them myself with my choir. I have a small (about 8 when everybody is there) choir that all have confidence "issues" and I also have a pastor who is very adamant about good music. I ended up hiring some decent cantors who, in addition to their regular paid masses, have agreed to volunteer and be "ringers" in the choir, which has helped tremendously. Also, for special things, i.e., Christmas Cantata, Easter Vigil, I hire these same people. It's worked beautifully in a very difficult situation.

    I also take about 1/2 hour out of every rehearsal to give "music lessons". We do quite a bit of warm-ups, along with sight reading and note recognitions. That helps, too.

  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,937
    I had a pastor come and address the choir to tell them "we are on the way toward a quality music program that begins today"

    Unnnnnnbelievable! In six months the entire choir quit.
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • It only took him six months for him to reach that goal! He's to be commended. There are some situations that require house cleaning with a stiff broom.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,937
    A number of the members had been there for many many years.
  • Thank you all for your insight and advice on this issue, it is appreciated. I would love to be able to rehearse in a choir room, but we unfortunately do not have one. I am looking into options for a space where we can rehearse before Mass that isn't in the church itself. I think that will certainly help prevent any further situations such as this.
    I have in the past hired section leaders, but usually only for the Easter Triduum and "special Masses" as they arise. I don't think anyone felt as though their toes were stepped on. In fact, a few of the choir members really enjoyed singing with some stronger singers. Problem is, our pastor is a bit of a penny pincher and I'm not sure we would be able to make weekly section leaders fly. I have thought about working with a local university to create an internship of some sort, but I need to do much more research before taking that project on.
    Again, thank you all for the words of wisdom. It is nice to have a place to bring problems like this to colleagues who understand the dynamic of musician and pastor and can treat it with words of support and compassion.
  • Are there any pastors out there who are not penny-pinchers?
  • JahazaJahaza
    Posts: 468
    If you do bring in paid ringers, it really isn't anyone else's business in the choir to know that they are paid.

    Sure it is, not because they're members of the choir, necessarily, but because they're members of the parish. The parish is entitled to know when additional paid staff members are being hired.
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,678
    'attention parish, we're now hiring folks to trim the shrubs overgrown at the side of the yard. also, Father's bathroom was clogged and we hired someone to fix the toilet. Also, we hired someone to repair the pothole on the very far side of the parking lot that Ms. McGuinty kept falling into. Also, we hired someone to walk Ms. McGuinty to her car." - the bulletin
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,372
    As for choir members not knowing what ringers are paid... Isn't it their money that they have tithed?
    I think it just awful when choir members get ignored (really most of the time yes?) I can't say I've yet met a choir member who does it for praise, but why can't clergy just thank choir members for their time and sacrifice? Just think what effect that would have on the growing of choirs?
    Thanked by 1ClergetKubisz
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,946
    When paid ringers in the choir get to be a problem, climb up the bell tower and think it over. You might just realize the time has come: change ringers.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    MJM,
    Apples to oranges.
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,678
    My point was that you don't have to advertise that they're paid, just as you don't need to advertise that every person who does something at the parish is paid. If someone asks, you would of course answer honestly. But advertising every person that is paid for some task is over the top.
  • I do think that parishioners should know the budget of the church, but I wouldn't "advertise" that there are paid ringers in the choir. Do everything quietly and when the budget comes out, if anybody questions it, then answer the question.

    GH--it isn't "time and sacrifice" when you do it out of your heart and a desire to serve. And if complimenting your choir is a means to growth, then I wouldn't want those people in the choir to begin with. I tell my choir members that, unless it comes straight from a desire to serve, then they do not belong in the choir and should find another ministry. Unfortunately, it's been my experience that too many church musicians and singers do so out of frustration in not being able to sing or play elsewhere, not out of a true desire to serve.
  • Sure it is, not because they're members of the choir, necessarily, but because they're members of the parish. The parish is entitled to know when additional paid staff members are being hired


    Most parishes (where I am at), issue their fiscal statements sometime in July, and they do not itemize every detail of what they spent. Meaning, they aren't putting on the fiscal report, DM = $130,000 a yr with benefits totaling $145,000, Cantor = $20,000 a yr without benefits. They just put Salaries and Pensions = $250,000 for total staff i.e. Office, Rectory, Music, Maintenance.

    If a parishioner or choir member has a question about what is spent on what, they can take that up with the pastor, finance committee, or finance director. It really isn't my business as a DM to go around telling my choir that they have paid ringers, singers, cantors amoung them. I have never been asked, and I don't plan to just solicit that information freely. I don't feel it is my place or business to be discussing the expenses or salaries with anyone. That's why we have a pastor, finance committee, and finance director.

    I do agree with you Jahaza that if someone does desire to know, they should have a right to know what their offering is being spent on, but with the same token, I don't believe it has to be unnecesarily solicited as it generally starts up the crowd that yells and screams and believes everyone should devote 20-40hrs a week or more, freely without pay, while spending that time away from family, and other work. The old case about why music and musicians should be paid. YMMV but thats my humble opinion.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • rogue63
    Posts: 410
    Fair points about paid singers, but don't we believe that the Lord will provide the needed talents from within the parish? If your repertoire absolutely requires the level of professionalism of paid singers, then shouldn't you be re-thinking your decisions about liturgical music?

    DMs deserve every bit of money we get, no question. And cantors also deserve remuneration for their work. I do have a hard time offering cash to a Wiccan or a Muslim or a Baptist---no matter their qualifications---over top of a parishioner. Why pay strangers when you can offer stipends to people within your own parish if you've taught them well?
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,241
    Every parish is different. Some have the talent and some don't.

    Some have a very AGED congregation and many steps up to the choir loft. These people still demand quality choral music, but most aren't able to volunteer to help provide it anymore.
  • rogue63
    Posts: 410
    I agree that every parish is different, but God certainly provides people who can sing to every parish. They may not all be able to sing Byrd and Palestrina motets, but they can sing nonetheless.
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,428
    rogue63

    Part of me agrees with you.

    But part of me wants to point out that the same argument could be made about Music Directors and Accompanists as well.
  • rogue63
    Posts: 410
    Hrmm........point taken.

    I'm not suggesting we do work for free. We are specialists in a difficult field, one that requires a lot of training and study and constant practice to keep up. We deserve the compensation we receive---no question.

    My position is justifiably a paid one because I have "the stuff"---training, experience, wherewithal---it takes to execute music at the liturgy. No one would ask a plumber---even a parishioner---to come and replace 500 feet of busted PVC pipe for free. Our work is similarly specific and difficult but even more important because we serve at the liturgy. Part of my job is to cultivate singers from the people God sends to me, even if I have to twist their arms to get them here.

    I'm just saying that the drive to always have a paid singer is not the best decision, or even necessarily a good decision, for the parish. Stipends for funerals and weddings? Sure. A paid singer every Sunday? It doesn't generate the kind of ownership that a parish should have of its music.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,921
    Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere have just experienced summer and how parish volunteers (readers, servers, ushers) aren't quite as reliable in the summer as they are in other seasons. We wouldn't want that to happen for singers, too.
  • Fair points about paid singers, but don't we believe that the Lord will provide the needed talents from within the parish? If your repertoire absolutely requires the level of professionalism of paid singers, then shouldn't you be re-thinking your decisions about liturgical music?


    If this were true then first, each parish would be staffed with priests from the parish...of course, this may involve rethinking our decisions about...

    People tithe to make it possible for others to do things they themselves choose not to do , like mowing the grass, going to seminary and being ordained, taking music lessons and playing the organ.

    Next question, please.
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,678
    The parish should supply volunteer singers to be a part of the choir - and they will sound better, have more confidence, and learn quality music faster if there are paid professional singers there also. Take the average parish choir and add 8 paid voices and a qualified director and suddenly what would take 3 months to learn is refined in a few weeks. And if these singers aren't Catholic - pray for their conversion and hope that the beautiful sacred music you execute together will lead their minds and hearts to the God and to His Church.
  • I'm not convinced there should HAVE to be ANY volunteer singers.

    High quality music demands professionalism. You don't let a parishioner redo the electricity as a volunteer - unless they happen to be a certified electrician.

    So - maybe on average there should be one or two volunteer singers in every choir - who happen to have music degrees and voice lessons?

    Of course Liturgy and music are just extras ... not as important as the building and electricity.
  • rogue63
    Posts: 410
    But...but...

    if no one volunteers to sing, and we rely solely on professionals, what does that say about our parish? We don't love Jesus enough to sing for him? Furthermore, why aren't there more priests from each parish, Noel?
  • It says that our parish values high quality music.
  • Musicteacher56 said:

    And if complimenting your choir is a means to growth, then I wouldn't want those people in the choir to begin with.


    It must be magical singing in your choir.

    Other people are thinking it. I'm just saying it.
  • Out of sheer joy, when an all-volunteer choir under my direction pulls off a truly remarkable execution of a difficult piece of music after working hard to master it (and indeed develop a deep mastery of the art of choral singing), I cannot help but express my excitement and enthusiasm over their achievement.

    It seems to me that it's a natural response, and I wouldn't want to sing for a choir director who cannot find it in their soul to share that joy.
  • rogue63
    Posts: 410
    I agree with David. I allow that there's room for paid singers in some places, but the joy of sharing great music with good people, who have happily volunteered time and effort, is a foretaste of the Beatific Vision.
  • Musicteacher56:

    I have reviewed your history of comments and complaints about the lack of participation in your choir that you have posted on the forum going back to January and before.

    My sarcastic remarks (above) aside, I was truly disappointed to read your comments in this thread, especially from Sept. 10 when you said, "I have a small (about 8 when everybody is there) choir that all have confidence "issues" . . ." and this morning, when you wrote, " . . . if complimenting your choir is a means to growth, then I wouldn't want those people in the choir to begin with. I tell my choir members that, unless it comes straight from a desire to serve, then they do not belong in the choir and should find another ministry."

    You remark out loud about their "confidence issues." Do you truly not see that an all-volunteer group needs to be reinforced in their achievements when they master a particularly important technique in choral singing?

    As a seasoned veteran sacred musician and choir trainer who has worked with choirs of all sizes, ages and levels of ability, and has faced certain frustrations along the way, one thing remains a constant: All choirs (children and adult) improve and become progressively more confident when their achievements are acknowledged and reinforced by sincere complements. I'm not suggesting false complements or overly-lavish praise, but a sincere praise and expression of joy in their achievements.

    It is not, for them, enough to have a desire to serve, noble and honorable as that commitment may be. Those who serve as volunteers also desire encouragement and acknowledgement when they have undertaken a task and brought it to a truly fruitful conclusion and thus demonstrated that they are developing a mastery of an art form that is becoming all too alien in our culture: choral music of the Western liturgical art tradition.

    You truly must decide whether or not you wish to aid people who have lost their ability to understand and appreciate the art of choral singing, not merely by demanding their dedication and commitment, but by sharing the joy when truly transcendent beauty in music is achieved as a result of that dedication and commitment.

    Nothing is more destructive or soul-crushing than to pursue a vocation with so much passion, but with so little joy.
  • DA--Thank you for your comments. Let me add something.....did Christ expect compliments when He preached? Or did He do it out of a desire to serve?

    Also, I would suggest that any and all comments directed to one particular poster be referred to private messaging, rather than public forums.

  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,241
    Christ is God. God doesn't have confidence issues.

    Inexperienced choristers who decide to step out of their comfort zone to serve (yes, SERVE) the parish need a shot in the arm every now and then.

    Gee whiz, I feel like we're through the looking glass here.
  • Thank you, Irishtenor.

    We are working (I would hope) to help restore something that has been tragically lost in our culture . . . the art of choral singing, and the appreciation of the vast treasury of Western liturgical music. It is an art form, and can be easily mastered if we as the teachers (trainers, masters, directors) can impart that knowledge to those who are willing to commit the time (in this truly busy, conflicted and complex world) to develop a deep mastery of the art with both passion and profound joy. If we pursue this endeavor with a complete lack of joy, or become so demanding of people's "desire to serve" that we fail to share that joy or express a sense of satisfaction in an endeavor well-done, people will be demoralized and abandon the pursuit. It is out of charity and respect that we do this. To fail to do so is a sin against charity, in my humble estimation.

    I simply cannot imagine walking into a room full of volunteers and taking for granted the time and effort they put into what they do by never considering a word of praise, joy or acknowledgment when they achieve a truly remarkable musical feat, especially in a world that is so full of ugliness, depravity and self-gratification, and lacks any appreciation for true art and beauty.

    The "Honey Boo-Boos" and "Miley Cyruses" of the world would shrivel and die if so much attention weren't lavished upon them for doing exactly nothing, or worse, promoting that which destroys the fabric of our culture. People who dedicate their lives to restoring beauty to the world through sacred music (and not just those of us who have earned degrees and sacrificed our time and finances to learn our craft, but the volunteers who commit to the undertaking . . . the ones who actually make it happen) deserve better, and shame on anyone in this endeavor who takes them, or their dedication and sacrifice for granted.
  • WendiWendi
    Posts: 638
    While Christ is of course the ideal of behavior we should all strive for, the practical reality is that most of us are not yet at that level of spirituality. That being the case, I have found that regularly applied sincere, positive affirmation and encouragement does much to aid in the development and growth of volunteer choirs. As always...YMMV.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Liam
  • Okay...I feel like I have to defend myself. First of all, I hold firm that all church singers, whoever they are, especially adults, must first recognize the service they are providing for their parishes, and not use them as an opportunity to "perform". As I mentioned above, in my experience, I have seen just too much of this type of attitude for me to stay quiet about it. Now, that does not mean that they don't need the "shot in the arm", as Irish suggests. I believe that, too, and just the other night I told my choir how proud I was of them that their commitment has gotten stronger and that they are doing a lot better. But, as has been mentioned time and again on this and other threads, we all come from different communities and as DOM's have to recognize each community's uniqueness in order to serve the parish in our capacities as DOM's. My particular parish, as also mentioned on more than one occasion, was slammed with a new, very orthodox pastor after many years of very liberal minded pastors who "went along with the flow. This has resulted in increased complacency among people, particularly in the music ministry. Learning sacred hymnody and chant became a "burden" to them after years and years of being able to come and go as they pleased as long as they just showed up on Sundays. Prior to my taking over the ministry, the mentality of the DOM was one of numbers. The more people she had on the altar on any given Sunday, the better she looked to the outside. When I took over, I changed all of that, including the complacent attitudes of the singers. If they didn't understand their true mission in the music ministry, then they didn't need to be there. And, I did so with my pastor's blessing.

    As a result, I did lose many members, but I've also gained some who craved the organized, strict way which I began to re-structure this ministry.

    Sometimes tough love is needed in difficult situations. Had I given out too many compliments initially, we would not now be singing propers and traditional hymnody.

    As far as taking anybody for granted, I thank God for every singer He's brought to me and ask on a daily basis, that He give me the strength and courage to continue in my ministry.

    Thanked by 1toddevoss
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,678
    "Had I given out too many compliments initially, we would not now be singing propers and traditional hymnody."

    You really think there was no possible way you could compliment people and get to a point where you can do propers/traditional hymnody?
    Thanked by 1irishtenor
  • Oh, if we could only walk in each other's shoes for a couple of weekends, I wonder how many comments there would actually be on these forums? Each community is unique, in different areas of the world, and with very different pastoral guidance. We should learn from each other and take what we can from these discussions to bring our music to the level the Church deserves.

    In my career, I've had the opportunity to work for several parishes, each one with it's own personality, lead by its own pastor with his own personality. When a parish that has been "trained" by liberal pastors is suddenly given a VERY orthodox one, both in spirituality and in everything pastoral, a lot happens before the dust settles. My choir is one of those things.

    We are turning the corner, however, and I know that the Lord looks upon us with loving eyes. But, the fact remains that sometimes doing His work isn't always easy nor pretty for those who have become very accustomed to something else.
  • Matthew--not with this group of people. People use compliments in two ways--the first one is to take it and grow on it. The second is to take it and stagnate. With my group of singers, any compliment given is a means for them to believe they have "arrived" and do not have to work hard.

    Again, we have to look at individual communities and situations when making decisions about leadership styles.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,921
    To think of all the bad playing and singing our own music teachers have endured in hearing us; and yet they found encouraging things to say to us.
  • Okay...I feel like I have to defend myself. First of all, I hold firm that all church singers, whoever they are, especially adults, must first recognize the service they are providing for their parishes, and not use them as an opportunity to "perform".


    You can't tell them to do this nor to "not perform"; you can only achieve this by example.

    Sometimes tough love is needed in difficult situations. Had I given out too many compliments initially, we would not now be singing propers and traditional hymnody.


    Sorry, but if you had given out many compliments initially you'd be wallowing in a sea of 1970's pseudo-pop Catholic feel good songs? There's simply no logic to this. Just because you felt the need to kick some ass (and don't we all at times) does not then cause propers and traditional hymnody to be sung.

    I realize that all this just means that you felt the need to stand strong and take control. That's a good thing.

    [wow, this is probably the closest I've come to getting kicked off the forum for a long time. I guess the discipline of the new diet IS making be feel better! 1 potato chip, close the bag, seal it, put the clip on it and put it away. Eat the potato chip taking time. Avoid eating another one for at least 90 minutes. Sugarless popsicles are only 15 calories. Save the purple ones (grape, yuck) and take them to the library and have them put them in their freezer to eat when needed]
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,678
    "Did the Director just compliment us? Yes? You get the guitars, I'll get the bongos... someone else get the banjo. It's Hootenanny Mass time."