Flamboyant choir directors are loved because they bring so much energy to our worship services. They have larger than life personalities and their enthusiasm is infectious. They are right out front and center so it’s necessary for them to be charismatic. In addition to charisma, they also have to be strong leaders who show love and care to their choirs. They need their flamboyant personalities in order to move their choirs to perform. They also must have an overall musical expertise – being familiar with a large catalog of the music of the church.
I was blessed to sing in Allen Temple’s choir (only once because I truly cant sing). I thoroughly enjoyed the give and take of being led by our choir director who had developed his skills over decades. When the director is good, he’s communicating with his whole body. And our director was GOOD! He’d lean in toward the choir to get that intensity, or he’d lean backward and stretch out his arms to get the soaring voices. He would lift his right hand and jiggle his fingers to bring up the voices, or point dramaticially to the tenor section or soprano section for their solos.
I loved it when our director would loudly clap and speak a lyric, then we’d follow him and sing it, and all in sync without missing a beat. Kirk Franklin became famous following this style, and that dramatic flair is why I enjoy it so much. A good choir director already knows what direction he’s taking his group with the song and he confidently leads them. He skillfully draws from the singers the best delivery of our favorite old hymns, and knows how to get the energy up with the modern gospel songs. The director inspires the best from his choir.
In the black church, the choir director has to be flamboyant and bold – with her voice, with her body language, with her facial expressions. After all, she’s laboring to get her group on one accord so they can effectively bring forth the song that will minister to the congregation. The black congregation helps the choir director to bring out the best in the choir, and it’s beautiful to see that interconnectedness. When we all are calling and responding, we are blessing and ministering to ourselves.
But beyond being flamboyant, choir directors are teachers and ministers. Through the repetition of singing each week, we are relearning our hymns. I personally have bought our hymn book, but I never read it. I learn through following along with the congregation, our choir and choir director. As I memorize the hymns, they minister to my spirit and I carry them with me throughout the week. The choir director is somewhat like the preacher, bringing forth the word in the form of a hymn. They are partners with the preacher.
Unfortunately, there are some choir directors who are all flamboyance and no substance. It’s all show with them, and the Spirit doesn’t seem to be in it. Some of us are expecting the choir to entertain us, and we don’t realize when the Spirit isn’t present, even in the midst of alot of talent. Some congregants will shout and jump and lift holy hands, and still not experience God.
God’s presence should always be the goal. For a choir director to be at her best, it’s important for her to always seek God through prayer and worship. She’s has been entrusted to develop the talents of God’s people. She needs to stay balanced by constantly seeking the Lord, and trusting Him to guide her. If she does, God will be there to help her. After all, it is God who created her and blessed her with wonderful flamboyant charisma, and it should always be to His glory that she expresses her gifts of leadership.
Guidelines on choir directing
This clip of Bugs Bunny had me rolling on the floor as a kid. Its still makes me laugh 40 years later
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