I consider the past year to be a musical success at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation. The choir sounded good, the new contemporary band was a big hit, and we were successful in resolving some long running issues with the sound system.
Not everything went according to plan. My biggest challenge was in starting a children's choir. I think there were two main reasons for the difficulty: scheduling and lack of a tradition.
At the beginning of the church year, I scheduled a children's choir rehearsal every other week at 12:30, after Second Hour. We had service at 10, Second Hour (classes) at 11:20, and then children's choir at 12:30. In theory, this seemed like a good idea. In practice, it didn't work out so well. By the time 12:30 rolled around, everyone was hungry and ready to go home. On top of that, we occasionally had a church wide event that overrode children's choir, such as a congregational meeting or a potluck.
With no established children's choir in Northwest's recent history, it was more difficult to start one than I anticipated. Part of my goal was to simply show the kids what it was like to be in a choir. That was hard to do when we sometimes had rehearsals with only 2-3 singers.
Now that this first year is done, I'm rethinking children's music at Northwest. I still think it's important to have the children participate in the musical life of our congregation. I've decided that, if the kids can't come to me, I'll go to them. Rather than have a regular children's choir, I'll go into the classrooms 1-2 times a month after the main service and sing songs with the kids. Also, and this isn't set in stone yet, we have been thinking about holding a kid friendly mini-service in the chapel maybe once a month. I'll plan on being part of that service as a song leader. Every so often, we'll hold a special rehearsal with the children, in which they'll prepare to sing their favorite songs for the main Sunday service. I think we'll have more success in getting good attendance if we hold a special dress rehearsal every so often instead of an every other week schedule.
There will still be a children's program next year. It'll just be less formal than I originally envisioned. I still would like to have a children's choir at Northwest, but we'll do this first. One step at a time.
- Tom Godfrey
- Atlanta, GA, United States
- When I suffered a lip injury that ended my career as a classical trombonist, I thought my life as a musician was finished, but I fell in love with music all over again when Santa gave me a guitar for Christmas in 2003. Even as I was struggling with my first chords, I was planning a new performance career. As a trombonist, I performed with the Heritage of America Band at Langley Air Force Base, the Ohio Light Opera, and in pick-up bands for touring acts that included Rosemary Clooney, George Burns, and the Manhattan Transfer. Reborn as a jazz guitarist, I sing and play my own solo arrangements of jazz classics, am half of the Godfrey and Guy duo, and hold the guitar chair in the Sentimental Journey Orchestra. I have been a freelance music copyist since 1995, served as Director of Music at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation from 2011 to 2017, and currently serve as Contemporary Band Director at the same congregation.