Church music directors, also called choir directors, are professional bandleaders and administrators hired by churches to lead the choir and develop the churchs music-oriented activities. Their job varies based on the structure of the church’s music department and the goals of the minister, but almost always involves scheduling and leading choir rehearsals; conducting and leading the choir in performance; recruiting and auditioning new singers and volunteers; fostering each singer’s musical growth; and appointing senior choir members to become section leaders, soloists, and assistant conductors. Music directors also choose the choirs performance pieces, prepare special programs for holidays or special occasions, and work alongside the church organist (if they dont play organ themselves). Some church choirs are highly competitive, and planning for competitions might also be part of the job.

Besides leading the choir, the music director has a number of administrative duties, including creating a budget for the music program (which might pay for robes, sheet music, travel, set, and staging), performing administrative work, and maintaining weekly office hours. In addition, music directors might be involved in developing the churchs music programs further by leading a small music class at an associated Sunday school, planning local performances and choir showcases, or training a separate church or gospel band (which typically includes instruments like guitar and drums). Finally, music directors connect the church to the broader community of church music by attending conferences and seminars to bring back new pieces, techniques, and literature for development of the music department and singers.

Choir Director Requirements:
  1. Bachelor’s degree in music, music education, or related field is preferred.
  2. Proven experience working as a choir director.
  3. Sound musical knowledge.
  4. The ability to interpret various styles of music.
  5. Strong leadership and listening skills.

CDA 1 – Choir directing tips that helped me!!! Part 1

What does a choir director do?

A choir directors day-to-day responsibilities involves managing the musical, budgetary and logistical needs of a choir. These responsibilities include:

What is a choir director?

A choir director is the person directly in charge of all aspects pertaining to their particular choir. This includes directing or conducting the choirs performances. When not performing, the choir director takes on planning and preparatory responsibilities.

Though usually associated with churches or religion, choirs can belong to secular institutions as well, including schools or performance troupes. Choirs can also perform independently of any institution.

Skills for becoming a choir director

Because of the many responsibilities choir directors face, they need a combination of hard and soft skills, most focusing on musical abilities and interpersonal skills. The skills most helpful for directing choirs include:

An understanding of music and music theory

Choir directors should understand theoretical music principles and how these elements work together. Playing a musical instrument is helpful while arranging pieces and accompanying the choir during rehearsals and performances.

Organization

Since this is a management position, organizational skills help directors create schedules for performances and rehearsals. It also aids in making sure financial documents, choir-related contracts and other paperwork is up to date, accurate and kept safe for future reference.

Positivity

As coaches, choir directors motivate their performers to help them achieve their musical goals. A positive attitude helps build this motivation and make auditions and rehearsals enjoyable.

Time management

Choir directors often work around the schedules of their performers. This is especially true of amateur choirs, which may comprise singers working day jobs. This skill is also helpful when arranging travel, ensuring the choir arrives in time for their performance.

Leadership

The choir director spends much of their time creating and enforcing rules, making day-to-day decisions and performing other leadership tasks. Understanding how to delegate tasks and manage large groups helps achieve success for the choir as a whole.

Communication

Choir directors convey their vision to the choir, which often includes making abstract and theoretical ideas understandable. They also communicate with others when arranging travel, ordering supplies and overseeing any other specific needs of the choir.

How much does a choir director make?

Although individual paths may vary, here are some basic steps for becoming a choir director:

1. Learn an instrument

In addition to having vocal musical talent, learning how to play a musical instrument is a helpful way to understand the basics of music and music theory. Though those interested in a career in music may already play an instrument, there are several paths for those who dont. Local music shops usually offer lessons on how to play instruments, and the internet provides many opportunities for learning an instrument as well.

2. Earn a degree

Though its not required, most choir directors have a bachelors degree in music or a music-related field. Degrees and specializations helpful to those wishing to become a choir director include:

Some choir directors choose to earn a masters degree in any of these related fields, though a bachelors usually offers the knowledge necessary for the position.

3. Continue your education

Many choir directors find it important to work continually on their musical skills outside of work or school. This includes reading about musical trends, practicing singing or playing their instrument and composing or arranging musical pieces in their free time.

Also, simply listening to music as often as possible is a helpful way to learn and understand worldwide musical trends, the specifics of different styles and varying composition techniques that can directly benefit a career as a choir director.

4. Become an accompanist

Before becoming a choir director, some may find a career opportunity by starting as a choir accompanist. This role involves playing the piano or other musical instrument to accompany a choir during rehearsals or performances. Choir accompanists may have the option to work their way up to becoming a choir director.

5. Earn a teaching certificate

For those hoping to become a choir teacher, every state requires certification. Each state has their own requirements for this, so consider researching the rules of your state. Most states require a certain number of student teaching hours and a passing score on an exam.

Other career opportunities for choir directors

Due to their formal education and practical musical experience, career related to choir directors include:

FAQ

What does it take to be a choir director?

Successful choir directors are accomplished in the field of music. Most places of employment (churches included) require at least a Bachelor’s Degree in Music, and some even require a master’s degree. These programs typically offer concentrations in church music or choral education.

How do I become a better choir director?

Choirs are often led by a conductor or choirmaster.

What are the duties of a church choir director?

Good communicator

Communication is a key quality in building a rapport with your choir. Good communication will gain their attention and get results. Think about the information you need to give to your choir, whether it’s announcements, warm-up exercises or repertoire work.

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