Intentional Progress

The older I get, the more I learn that positive change happens when I become intentional in my actions. Weight doesn’t just happen to fall off, and muscles don’t automatically tone. Not only that, but sometimes intentional behavior is necessary to simply maintain the status quo: my house doesn’t stay clean, and my car doesn’t maintain itself – nor do relationships.

I think the same principle applies to our music ministries. If we want our choirs to read better, how have we been intentional in making that happen? If we want our ensembles to unify as a family group, what have we done to cultivate that atmosphere? If we want to become better leaders, what steps are we taking to grow in our craft?

A year ago, I found myself in the rare position of being at home for an almost 8-week stretch. I took advantage of this unusual opportunity and assigned myself some self-appointed professional development. I temporarily joined one of the finest church choirs in the country so that I could sit under the direction of a gifted choral director. After just one rehearsal, I was a better musician, a better singer, a better director, and a better composer. It instantly changed how I write music. During that 8-week stretch, I also participated in a song writing weekend with extremely gifted musicians on the opposite side of the musical spectrum: award-winning contemporary writers, gospel writers, and lyricists. At the end of the 8 weeks, I communicated with a successful composer who mentioned that he too was doing some self-appointed professional development: he was taking violin lessons to become a better (and growing) musician!

So all of that to say: Your choir wants to grow and be better, or they would not come to rehearsal each week. This concept of intentional growth isn’t something you’ll need to talk them into. People like to be a part of something good. Here are a few ideas to jumpstart your creativity:

• Provide music reading classes for your choir. This might be a 30-minute lesson before each choir rehearsal, or you might need to take a full rehearsal once every 6 weeks to devote to just reading and tone development. You may feel like you don’t have time for that, but I guarantee that the sacrifice is worth it, even if you have to repeat a familiar anthem or two in order to make it happen.

• Another option is to bring the local church choirs together for regular music theory lessons and vocal training. Or perhaps a week of Summer Choral VBS in your city. What a great way to build community – who knows what could come of that!

• And finally, think of ways that you as the leader can learn and grow. There will be a noticeable trickle-down effect to your choir, and you will most likely find a renewed love for your calling – I sure did!

Happy learning and growing to you and your choirs!




Heather Sorenson entered the church music industry in her twenties, and her name quickly became a welcomed fixture in the publishing world. Heather is hired by the largest and most respected publishers in the world, and her pieces remain at the top of Bestsellers lists and Editor’s Choice selections. Initially recognized for her skill as a pianist, Heather is now known for her compositions in choral anthems, solo piano collections, and orchestrations. Her works are performed regularly at competitions, concerts, recitals, and churches worldwide. Although her career is sometimes on a big stage, Heather’s heart is leading the Church in worship, and she feels that her greatest calling is using her music to connect people with God. In addition to being a full-time composer, Heather regularly is a guest speaker and conductor at churches across America, and leads scores of sessions each year at various worship conferences, schools, and universities.

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