One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other Music What is the Role of the Music Director in a Local Church? (Part I)

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What is the Role of the Music Director in a Local Church? (Part I)

INTRODUCTION

The office of music director may be related to a time in biblical history, when David became king of Israel. Although this set existed for a very long time, it was only after David became king that it gained prominence in the daily lives of God’s people. A careful study of the reformation under David (1 Chronicles) will testify to the great importance placed on the worship music of the temple. These reforms brought in musical figures like Asaf, Heman, and Jedutun, who became key leaders and Music Directors with various responsibilities.

The dynamics involved in the role of music director are determined by the context of its performance. In David’s time, that king was the chief musician, while others worked under him (1 Chronicles 25:1-8). This is because David was raised and anointed by God for the office of prophet through music, apart from his royal duties and calling. Here we learn that his being a king did not give him the right to be the chief musician, but rather God’s divine calling on his life. When we look at the other kings of Israel starting with Saul, we don’t see any of them taking on the role of Music Director like David.

This is in stark contrast to some churches, where the leader (such as the visionary, pastor, founder, etc.) often plays the role of musical director. He usually decides how to organize and run the choir. He decides who joins and who sings what song. In most cases, these things will frustrate the work of many so-called true music directors. In no way does this imply that anyone can walk into a church and decide the direction or vision of the church, no. Everyone who works in an enterprise must be subordinate to the structure that governs the enterprise, but this should not reduce the employees of the enterprise to functional robots who cannot bring skills, knowledge and initiative to the good of the vision.

It is in this spirit that we see the role of Music Director not as someone who leads an outfit outside of the local church, but as someone who performs it as part of a larger unit like the local church.

ABOUT TYPES

Misconceptions about the job, job description, and duties of a music director vary from business to business, organization, and church. Unfortunately, we tend to copy what we see as successful. Systems are reduced to style tags. Your unique musical vision should bear a lot of responsibility on the system you use. Here are some common misconceptions about music direction by some people who are known as music directors. Hopefully this will start to turn our minds around what the music director’s job is.

Some think music director:

  • Appointed to teach singing like a choir master.
  • Must be the most talented musician, singer or both.
  • Must be the longest serving member of the organization or choir.
  • Must be the most prayerful member of the organization or choir.
  • Must be the most loyal and committed member.
  • Must be one of the choirs with Bible school experience.
  • Associate pastors should be part of the church’s pastoral team
  • Must be the most polite member with good communication skills.

While these may be extras to the job, the core business of music composition is much more than that. Then the question arises, what is the role of the music director? For band practice? Who will decide what song to sing or participate in the meeting?

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