Why church choirs function : a typological exploration of four key values.


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Volunteer church choirs have a variety of priorities driving their rehearsal techniques, repertoire, and traditions. Directors make many decisions based on their training and experiences, as shown in this research by the differences across choirs. This research gives researchers and directors the language to discuss various functions and the decisions accompanying them. Without a common language, it is easy for directors and others in the church to rely on what has been done previously instead of conscious decisions about the focus. This common language is the problem this research looks to address. The research answers the question by using a typology, a classification according to general type, of four functions: worship leadership, music education, community building, and faith formation. The typology model of the four functions allows for overlap and intersection of the functions while retaining their own identity.

This research will hopefully prevent assumptions by those writing about the church choir. Because some assume that the church choir exists to lead on Sunday morning, they do not focus on the individual’s faith or learning or the community built between the individuals. Several fields should take notice of this work, namely worship, religion, and congregational music studies. While those in the choral area may be aware of some of the ideas included here, along with the broader possibilities of the choir, this work should also help those fields. In addition to the academy, directors can use this language to assess where they are on the spectrum of the four functions. With some reflection, directors can see if they are missing any of these functions in their rehearsals and if they would like to add them.