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The Church choir and discipline

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Very Rev. Dr. Isaac Udoh

The Church choir needs discipline to function well. A wise man once said, ‘Even in hell, there is order’. This implies that order, which can be considered as discipline, is needed almost everywhere (if not everywhere). ‘Discipline’ means training especially of the mind and character to produce self – control and habits of obedience. Let’s consider two main categories – Musical Discipline and Non-Musical Discipline.

Non – Musical
They include:
• Self – Respect: Every chorister should see himself/herself as a vessel of noble use in the hands of God; and so must respect himself/herself. Respect is reciprocal.
• Humility and Co-Operation: Humility is a mark of maturity. Every chorister should imbibe this culture. Do not be arrogant or proud because of your position or academic standard; it is God that makes you what you are. There should be co-operation between the choristers and the choirmaster.
• Regularity of Attendance/Punctuality: It is important that all members attend rehearsals regularly and on time. Absenteeism is a most disturbing and destructive problem in any choir.
• Concentration: It would be a help to hold rehearsals (if possible) away from external noise and other possible sources of visual or aural distraction. Every choir member should know that rehearsals and performances are serious business requiring the full attention and concentration of all concerned.
• Uniformity and Unity: Standing or sitting should be done together in unison or in any agreed order or style.
• Respect to the Choirmaster, Choir Executive, Rules and Regulations Governing the Choir: No matter the age, poor academic standard or poor social status of the choirmaster, he should be respected and obeyed as one kept by God to lead the choir. An act of insult or disobedience to the choirmaster is an act of insult or disobedience to both God and the authority that put him (the choirmaster) there. There should be respect to the rules and regulations governing the choir. Erring, stubborn/disobedient choristers should be punished in order to serve as a deterrent to others. There should be no favouritism or nepotism.
• Avoidance of Anti-Social Behaviours: Living a sinful life/anti-social behaviours such as stealing, fighting, smoking, etc, should be avoided in choirs. Defaulters should be disciplined accordingly, with a view to correcting them. Good behaviours should be encouraged in all choirs.

Musical
• Attacks and Releases: The ‘attack’ involves not only the vocal cords, but also the position of the tongue and throat, the amount of space in the mouth and breath pressure.
• Tone and Intonation: Being able to pitch a piece of music on the right key and also maintaining the key is of paramount importance.
• Tempo and Dynamics: These must be observed during practice and performance. Sometimes, the lyrics may determine the dynamic levels and tempo where they are not indicated.
• Rhythm and Harmony: Special attention should be paid to rhythm and harmony.
• Conducting: This must be done in line with the time signature, which informs the conducting (pattern).
• Pronunciation/Diction: Songs are meaningless when the words are not distinctively pronounced. The mouth must be shaped well in order to pronounce words well. The first and the last letter of every word must be well pronounced.

To achieve a good height in performance, musical and extra musical discipline must be maintained at all times. Every choristers should accept Jesus Christ as his/her personal Lord and Saviour (II Corinthians 5:17). God must receive holy worship from holy singers. With God and diligence, any choir can attain a good and an enviable height.
• isesudoh@yahoo.com


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Dr. Isaac Udoh
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