I love singing! I am not a world class soloist or anything, I’m just fine enjoying being a member of the choir. There are so many lessons we learn about the Gospel by singing in Ward and other Church Choirs.
Once in a father’s blessing I was told  that if I would sing for The Lord, I would be blessed to sing in grand choruses. Since then I have had the opportunity to sing in many wonderful choirs. Currently I am getting ready for two concerts with Spire Music this weekend and next month I return to the Millennial Choirs & Orchestras.
Today, as I was singing in Sacrament Meeting with my Ward Choir, I thought of some specific lessons I have learned in singing for the Lord. I want to share my 10 Things I Learned From Ward Choir that apply to both singers and those who are navigating their way through the faith.
1. You Are Not Always the Melody
Tenors love to be heard. I can’t remember a rehearsal where at some point the conductor asks for less sound from the tenor section. We need to remember that we all play integral parts of our Heavenly Father’s Plan. Sometime our role is to be of a support for others who lead out front.
2. Singing With Other Singers Makes You a Better Singer
My vocal skill has increased over the past few years as I have been blessed to sing next to wonderful musicians. My wife Kristie is a hairstylist by trade. She often reflects on how blessed she is to have clients who are great women in the Gospel. She is strengthened as they have an hour every few weeks to talk about how they live their faith and what they did to raise successful families.
3. Help Those Who Are New
When I sang Messiah in America with the Millennial Choir is was frustratingly hard and I wanted to quit so many times. When it was completed though, it was unbelievably beautiful and the experience was a fundamental building block in my testimony. When we sang the work again a few years later, it came so easily. It had a permanent spot in my Sunday Playlist. For others though, it was all new to them and I saw them going through the same frustration. I took them under my wing and encouraged them to keep trying and offered support. When new converts join the church, it can be frustratingly hard to acclimate to this new culture and faith. Take those who are new under your wing and offer them support and love.
4. It’s Not Enough to Simply Show Up
Singing with Spire Music has been a great change for me. We are only having two rehearsals before putting on our concerts. As such, for me to get anything out of rehearsal, I needed to study and practice beforehand. If we want to get value out of church, it isn’t enough to simply show up. We need to study the upcoming lessons, practice the principles taught in our lives, and be prepared to discuss our experiences. That is how all can become edified.
5. There Will Be Solos
There will times where you will be all alone on the stage of life. During those times where you experiencing those feelings, recall the love of those who have cared for you and taught you to sing the song of redeeming love.
6. You Have an Audience
Lindsey Stirling and Bryce Harper aren’t the only Mormons people watch. The best Choirs in the world are not renown for what their audience hears, but for how their audience feels. While being a good example and sharing the Gospel with others is important, those efforts will only help if those you share with feel the Spirit. Converts who join the Church often speak about how being around their member friends and in their homes, just felt “different.” That difference makes all the difference in blessing others.
7. You Might Not Like What Your Conductor Has to Say
10-things-I-learned-in-ward choir-Brandon-Stewart-Millennial
…but they are probably right. I have sung for some very passionate conductors and they are not willing to mince words when it comes to their pursuit of excellence. “Tenors you’re flat! Stop being lazy! That sounds awful! There is no way to have been practicing!” In those cases, they weren’t wrong. So I square up my shoulders, sit up straight, and get back to work. Sometimes our leaders ask us to do things we might not want to do. It could be serving in the nursery or taking a stand on a moral issue. We must trust that those who have they keys are inspired and called to lead us back to our Heavenly Father.
8. Singing in Unison Can Make a Powerful Impact
Most of the times choirs sing anywhere from 4-8 parts. Groups of voices at different times and on different notes. To really make an impact, a composer might make a section where all the singers sing the same notes at the same time. It helps to really make an impressive sound. There are times where we might be asked to unify as a ward on behalf of someone in need. We might fast and pray or offer service. There have been many miracles wrought in the course of these events. Both in the lived of those in need, and in the lives of those who serve.
9. Listening is Just as Important as Singing
10-things-I-learned-in-ward choir-woman-conducting
In choral singing, blending with your partners is essential. You need to listen to when they take breaths, sing softer, and cut off their notes. We need to listen to listen to others we serve with. If you are a councilor and have a President in need of a break, just in and lighten their load. If others are treading lightly on the subject of missions around a mother who has a son who just returned early, follow along. If it is announced that next week is Stake Conference, don’t be the only guys to show up at your regular meeting house.
10. The Words Have Meaning (This one comes from my boy, Garren)
You aren’t just singing a bunch of letters put together, you’re singing actual words with actual meanings. The Church is not a place you go to see your friends. It is where we go to find the doctrines of salvation.
If you have a heart for music, or want your children to grow in their testimonies, I highly recommend you look into the Millennial Choirs and Orchestras and see if we have a choir that meets near you. See what it has done for this family.
Also, if you are in the Phoenix area this weekend, come see me sing with Spire Music as we perform, “All is Well.” It is new sacred concert combining Rob Gardner’s “Joseph Smith the Prophet” and “Saints and Pioneers” into one unforgettable evening.