Working with gospel choirs is one of the great loves of my life, and this page talks about my choir work as a singer, director/teacher, and songwriter.
Joan Hall — Choir Singer
I’ve been singing in church choirs since I was a kid. By the time I had come of age, I was a seasoned alto and knew how to pick out the parts for most songs that I heard.
At my own church I was the main musician for many years, so I didn’t get to sing in our choir the way I wanted to. This led me to participate in larger choirs whenever I could. I would sing in our District Choir and in the State Choir whenever I could. I still love singing in mass choirs when I get the chance.
Video: Joan singing with the PAW International Mass Choir
I ended up in an easy-to-spot place in this huge choir. I’m at the far left on the top row. We’re singing Donald Lawrence’s “The Blessing of Abraham” at our 2007 International Convention in Nashville. The director is Trish Daniel.
I notice that in this video I’m lipping in sync while the tenors sing their part. So I look kinda goofy,but overall the choir did a great job.
This is the Adult Choir from New Hope, singing Richard Smallwood’s “Anthem of Praise” at the 2010 Rhapsody of Love Benefit Concert. The director is Kathryn Bailey-Cunningham.
Joan Hall — Choir Director
The first time I ever directed a choir, I was about seven years old. The adults at church had gotten all of us kids together and put us up front to sing, and they chose me to be the “choir director”. It was a song we all knew already, so I really didn’t do anything but stand there and wave my arms (just like that old cartoon — “Wave the stick until the music stops, then turn around and bow”).
I started working with choirs for real in the 1980s. The first choir I taught songs to was the Women’s Choir at our church. The (male) directors of the Mass Choir dismissed us at first as “not a real choir”, but eventually we reached the place where they had to take us seriously. I was also playing the organ for the church, so after I taught a song to the choir I had to choose someone to stand in front and direct while they sang. Eventually I became one of the main teachers for the Mass Choir as well.
Because I was always playing the organ at my own church, it was an absolute thrill when I started directing choirs at our District and State conferences. At those events I could actually stand before the choir and conduct them after I had taught the music.
And finally in recent years I have been able to direct my own choir at my home church. I’m so thankful for the musician we now have playing for us (Pastor King Felton), freeing me to conduct the choir. It’s also much easier to teach and rehearse the choir when I’m not stuck behind an instrument.
Choirs I currently direct
My home choir. My heart.
The Women’s Choir sings on special occasions.
The District Choir includes singers and musicians from four local churches. I’ve been their director for many years.
The age range of the Youth Choir is from 7 through about 15, with most of the choir members being in their teens.
After serving as the assistant director for some time, I am now the head director of the Adult Choir at New Hope. It’s a great gig!
Joan directing the New Hope Adult Choir
This was February 12, 2011. We’re singing an arrangement of a spiritual, “King Jesus Is A-listenin'”.
Some people have jokingly said that when I conduct I look like a flight attendant doing one of those pre-flight demonstrations where they point out all the emergency stuff. But choir members have also said that I’m a very easy director to follow.
Joan Hall — Gospel choir songwriter
I first started trying to write choir songs some time around 1990. My motivation was that I was looking for a wider range of gospel music to teach to choirs than what I was currently hearing around me.
My first song had some strong points and some weak points. I don’t teach that one any more. But my second one was a lot better and is still one of my favorites. My first songwriting experiences taught me that writing is something you get better at the more you do it. To write good music, you have to be willing to sometimes write some music that’s not so great. Just keep producing. Once you have things written, then you can decide what’s good enough to share and what’s not.
Over the years, I have continued to write choir music, striving to improve my skills over time. I often write a song with a particular choir in mind, trying to come up with something that will match the style and abilities of the particular choir. I think of my original songs as “my babies”, and I can tell you how long I was in labor with each one.
A couple of my songs have been recorded!
Some friends got together with me and did this recording (we recorded it right at my church). It’s a CD single contains two Christmas songs. One of the most exciting and fun things I’ve ever done!
It’s on Amazon as a downloadable. CD Baby had some of these on CD, but I think they have run out. I need to send them some more.
If you see any other sites with this CD listed at a high price, don’t buy it! I think those other sites just list anything that’s available at CD Baby without knowing what it is. I have seen sites trying to charge full album price for this when it’s a single that only has two songs on it.
I still have plenty of these on CD and cassette tape (!) in my garage as well.
I’ve also written a separate web page about When Christ Was Born, which includes a demo version of the song that you can download for free (it’s only me singing, though).
Joan Hall — Article writer and blogger about choir music
I’ve written a lot of articles about many topics related to gospel choir music and choir directing. My hope is that people find them helpful in whatever work they do in gospel choir ministry.
I invite you to browse around this web site and look at some of the articles. I hope they can be useful to you in your work with gospel music.
I also have a blog called “The Church Choir” where I drop various thoughts about choir ministry and resources.
Joan Hall — Founder, Chairman, President, and C*O of ChoirParts.com
And it was in 2009, I started the online business: ChoirParts.com.
In my business I do the same thing that I often do for my own choirs — making practice tracks so that each person can hear their own individual part and practice it. I’m having a lot of fun and people are find the service very valuable.