Tips for Music Directors
[all issues of "Tips" are available by scrolling down]

1. Don't Forget the Music for the Notes
2. What to do when the music seems too difficult
3. Dealing With The 6/8 Problem
4. How to Get Choir Members to Attend Practices
5. Developing a Music Library
6. The Unbalanced Choir
7. Who's In Charge
9. The Christmas Quandary
10. Keep It Legal
11. Keep Your Focus
12. Discouragement: Don't Throw The Baby Out . . .


[NOTE: Tips for Music Directors cover topics to assist individuals who are involved in music. Copying and use is permitted as long as the full credit noted at the end of the article is copied with the article. We accept suggestions for future articles. ]

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12. Discouragement: Don't Throw The Baby Out . . .

As I continually express, church music people have a lot of challenges. It is easy to become discouraged. We hear others talk about how wonderfully their presentations went, how marvelous the choir, how great the support, and how large the crowd. We then look at our own situation: six people showed up for the last choir practice, the accompanist just had a baby and the person taking her place has a problem playing the music, the meeting times change beginning in the new year makes it almost impossible to find a time and a place for choir practice, there is no music in the music library (actually no library), and there is no money for the choir. I could go on and on. However, with this seeming inequality, it is easy to give up. That is not the thing that is needed. Which brings me to the story about the baby and the bath water.

I was told by a very reliable person where the phrase: don't throw the baby out with the bath water, came from. I don't guarantee the authenticity of the story, but it seems to fit here. As the information goes–back in the old days, people didn't take a lot of baths. Not only did it take some effort to gather up and heat that much water, there was a time when folks thought it wasn't very healthy to take too many baths. As my information goes, taking a bath meant that everyone used the same water, and depending on where you were in the bathing order, and remembering that people got pretty dirty between baths, the water could get pretty muddy (to put it nicely). In those days, so I am told, the father took the first bath, the mother next, and so on. The baby was the last to get his or her turn. With so much murk in the water, the parts of the child under the water might not be seen. Thus the admonition was to be careful not to discard the infant with the water.

Now I repeat that I really don't know if that story is true. As a parent, I can't imagine at the end of the cleansing process to forget that some little tike is still in the bath. Perhaps, because the water was so dirty, that back in those times the saying was really a joke. What does this have to do with you and your music responsibility?

Even with all of the seemingly unfair lopsidedness–one director seems to have everything and everybody, while you have next to nothing–be enthusiastic. Treat your group as if they were as important as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir or the Cambridge Singers; they are. Actually, it isn't the group that really counts; it is the individual. An incident I will never forget was when a received a note at the end of the year from a girl in my junior high school general choir. She was always respectful. She always stood when we stood. She was always attentive and paid attention. But, although I always encouraged her, she never sang. Consequently, she didn't get a very good grade. However, as I recall, her note read: "Thank you for being the best teacher in the school. I love the class."

What did she love about a class in which I felt, she really didn't participate? How could she prefer a teacher who gave her a just passing grade in a class where good grades were pretty easy to get? I will never know what went on inside this individual. I do know that the message I learned from that girl and others like her, I have used to impress upon the hundreds of teachers I have taught. It is that we are always touching peoples lives–some we know, while others we will never even know of. Don't be discouraged. Do what you can to make a difference to your people. That is what all of this is all about.

—Roy L. Rummler, Director, Copypack Music [Vol I, No12] (

[NOTE: Tips for Music Directors cover topics to assist individuals who are involved in music. Copying and use is permitted as long as the full credit noted at the end of the article is copied with the article. We accept suggestions for future articles. ]

11. Keep Your Focus

Music directors, choir leaders, choristers, organists, pianists–those who are responsible for church music often have a few concerns. Actually, they usually have many concerns. And, although these problems may not mean the end of the world or at least life as we know it, they can get in the way.

These challenges are not localized to our faith or our congregation or our ward. Although everyone doesn't always experience what you experience when you experience it, eventually they probably will. That just seem to come with the territory.

I used to work with an individual who was the paid choir director for a protestant church. In his choir he had a couple of ladies who thought they were candidates for the Metropolitan Opera. According to my friend, they were candidates. He just wasn't sure for what. They refused to blend and believed the music should be sung their way. They were not happy with him . They threatened to have him fired! Since one of them was actually on the church board, that was a possibility.

We who donate our musical services may lament that musical qualifications seem pretty sparse in our helpers and participants. It may sometimes appear that many of the perplexities evolve from uninformed individuals making the selection–involving people who have meager backgrounds.

We have to be careful to keep things in perspective or we lose our focus. Yes, there can be problems with the accompanist. Instructions from leadership may seem too restrictive. The congregation may drag the songs and the organist rush them. Choir members don't show up for practice yet they are supposed to sing once a month. They are too busy during the week to practice and extra Sunday meetings are discouraged. So what to do?

First, all this stuff is just "stuff." Don't spend all your energy fretting and sweating. Relax. Church musicians don't have to be professional. Church performers don't have to be flawless. Some of the most humble and minimally trained participants have the greatest experience and touch the most hearts. What is it that brings tears to the eyes when listening to little kids who can't stay on pitch?

I have observed many choir performances that were exceptional–some by professionals, where the music was excellent, but the spirit just wasn't there. I have also been in meetings where the performance of the choir was mediocre at best, yet tears flowed and hearts were touched. Not long ago an individual who believed she was not a very good singer thanked me for letting her sing in the choir.

Sometimes we have to look in the mirror and make sure that our ego is not involved and that the music is about others, not us. That it is about the spirit and not the letter. That it is about the function and not the profession. It is about sharing a talent we have and about helping someone who did not have the privilege of the experience and training. We have to remember that once upon a time, someone tolerated our imperfections, our wrong notes, our bungled counting, our incorrect tempos. Keep your focus; you have an extremely important calling that transcends logistics, tempo, dynamics and notes. As I always tell even professional musicians with whom I work, the notes, words, expression markings, and tempo are not music. They are only an effort someone made to convey a feeling. The music comes from touching something within us.

Minimize the focus on "stuff." Maximize your efforts, knowledge and talents to make a difference in the lives of others.

—Roy L. Rummler, Director, Copypack Music [Vol I, No11] (

[NOTE: Tips for Music Directors cover topics to assist individuals who are involved in music. Copying and use is permitted as long as the full credit noted at the end of the article is copied with the article. We accept suggestions for future articles. ]

1. Don't Forget the Music for the Notes

We all want our presentations to be the best they can be. It doesn't matter whether it is a talk, a lesson, or a musical number; we want it to be the very best. And, this is important. Sometimes, however, we focus on the facet or side that is of less importance.

For example, in talks, we might equate effectiveness with the number of scriptures we share or the quotes we use. While these are important, using the spirit and sharing your feelings usually better touches the hearts of those listening. Music is like that.

Usually, we do not have enough time to practice with our choirs. There are other meetings. People are busy. They don't have a place for their kids to go during practice. They want to spend more time home with their families. Whatever the reason, it just seems there isn't enough time to get all of the notes and the words. Whatever, do not sacrifice the music for the notes.

Music is much more than the notes. Singing the correct notes is important. Being able to hear the parts in the harmony adds much. Obviously words make a difference. However, If you give me a choice between a professional choir with a completely correct rendition and a choir that sings from its heart, I will take the latter any day.

Remember that the notes on a page are merely the composer or arranger's way of indicating something deeper. These "markings" are to help us get an idea of what was created. However, like great words, it is the delivery that makes the final impact. With all the time you spend trying to get the physical things taken care of–notes, tempo, articulation–take a minute, step back, and let you mind and spirit contemplate. What is the impact of the intended message? Feel what the music is about. Then, share that with your choir and encourage them to sing from their hearts. The measurement of your performance is the feelings roused in those who listen.

2. What to do when the music seems too difficult

Small, amateur choirs–particularly church choirs–present some challenges.

One of those is that the singers have varying degrees of skill. That is, you may have some people who come to support you, but have little training, skill, and sometimes, voice. These people try hard, but provide a minimum contribution. For them, the easier the music, the better. You probably also have some individuals who are pretty knowledgeable and skilled, and who like to do more elaborate and challenging works. Then, of course, you have a group who are in between. How can you meet everyone's needs while providing the service to the congregation and a spirit to the meetings?

There are two ways we would suggest.

First, use music that is familiar. It can be using the hymns from the hymnal and doing them in a little different manner–have the men sing the first verse, the women the next, break into four part for a verse, have a solo do part, women break into two parts, etc.

Second, use arrangements of the hymns, but scale them down.

Obviously, we are involved in providing hymn arrangements. However, there are other good arrangements not done by Copypack Music. Although many of our arrangements and those by other arrangers have sections that any choir could sing, sometimes there are spots that are more difficult–perhaps too difficult for you group. In these spots, just do what you can and don't worry about what doesn't happen.

There are no judges with scores in the congregation making sure that you get every part and note correct. You are after an overall presentation. That is why in the last issue of Tips we suggested that you remember that the feeling and the message of the music was far more important than the notes. So, if the tenors can't sing their part, they can't sing their part, and it won't be heard. Maybe an alto could help out. If there is a spot that seems too difficult to your group, leave it out, or sing it unison, or have one section sing the melody, or, whatever. If the music range is too high and you have a transposing organ (a dial that moves the pitch up or down), accompany on the organ and "dial" it down to better fit the group. You may even want to change a note or two.

Use the spirit and your imagination, and ask for help from other music people to help you come up with ways of using the music and, at the same time, getting around the parts that cause a problem. There is nothing wrong with making some changes. After all, that is what an arrangement is all about anyway.

3. Dealing With The 6/8 Problem

I often see music leaders struggle with 6/8 meter. Some very conscientiously make sure that the complex pattern is adhered to and that each of the six beats is clearly represented. Others, work hard yet are not quite so successful, especially in faster hymns. A lot of energy can be invested in maintaining the proper pattern. And, sometimes it is necessary–and sometimes not.

First, 6/8 is used for a variety of rhythmic feelings ranging from marches to lullabies. We have to be careful not to think of meters as tempo. That is, the numbers have nothing to do with how fast the music goes. The speed is indicated by the metronomic markings like = 100, or by an Italian word like Andante. (We will discuss speed or tempo in a different article.)

Second, the beat pattern should be part of helping the congregation or choir sing the music. Sometimes when we get our arms going in complex patterns, we confuse the singers and even detract from the music. Our objective is to do everything we can to help them participate and feel the spirit. Although there are alterations to the 6/8 pattern that are sometimes suggested, in my experience, they merely add to the confusion and the difficulty, especially for non-professional directors and untrained singers.

To me, the decision has to be two beat or six. How to decide?

Review the music; what is it trying to say. For example, Silent Night is often unnecessarily beat in a fast six. But, what is Silent Night? Why is 6/8 the meter? Perhaps you haven't noticed, this song is a lullaby. As a mother rocks her child or sways back and forth it is an even two. Try it. Think two groups of three–1,2,3 is the first beat and 4,5,6, the second. Once you get that rocking feeling, the music begins to flow instead of jerk. Because this music is on the boarder line–pretty slow–it makes some people feel as if they have to fill up the space or time with beats. My advise: don't panic, the singers are more influenced by your motion and countenance than the number of "bumps" you put in your conducting pattern. Just carefully rock this sweet little baby. Practice in front of a mirror. Try Guide Me to Thee (101 in Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). You will find this much easier to beat in two.

A compromise between six and two can be used in a lot of music. In fact, I use it often. Basically, beat the six but leave out some "bumps." For example, hit 1 on your left, 4 on your right, then 5 or 5 and 6 as an up beat. I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go works very well this way.

Finally, don't get overly concerned if beats and patterns get mixed up. The singers will be much more influenced by the feeling conveyed by your face and general demeanor than how many curlicues you make in the air.

4. How to Get Choir Members to Attend Practices

You have the music. You have the desire . . . . . but the choir members just don't seem to get to practice. This is a particular problem during the summer months. Kids are out of school. People are taking vacations, and weekend activities find some of your choir away from home. And, the problem isn't strictly hooked to this time of year. This can be a very discouraging situation.

While there are no guarantees or sure "always-work" answers, there are some things that can help.

First, plan ahead. Look at the schedule a couple of months in advance. Plan with your Bishopric or church leaders, and determine when the choir can provide the music. While you are planning, decide when the choir will meet and what music you will be using. It can be fun to just go through some music during your choir practices, but most choirs do not have a lot of time to spare; better focus on the performance music.

Second, actually set up a schedule in writing. People are busy and often don't remember, or can become confused as to when and where practices are held. Additionally, I try to keep practices to a minimum so that families can spend as much time together as possible. Thus, my choir meets about three times a month. I make sure that all choir members, others who might be interested, and any individuals I am trying to get involved, are given a printed schedule. The schedule also notes when we will sing in a meeting.

Third, be prepared and keep the practice moving. If you know what you want to work on and have reviewed it so that you are aware of the spots that will need the most help, you will be astounded at how much you can accomplish in an hour.

Fourth, call. Either you or someone in the choir should call to remind and invite each member to practice. Yes, you gave them a printed schedule, and you let them know at the last choir practice when the next one would be. Still, there are a lot of schedules on the old refrig, and a lot of things that get in the way. And, those Sunday afternoons are easy for taking a snooze–right through practice. A phone call on Saturday can be just the thing that puts them over the decision hump and gets them to practice.

Last, have fun. Yes, you need to know what needs to be done. Sure, you need to work hard and keep moving. You also want the music to be a spiritual experience. Still keep it fun and have some light moments as you cruise ahead. It helps the members look forward to practice.

5. Developing a Music Library

Church choir directors complain that they don't have music for their choirs and little money to buy new music. Unfortunately, that is often true. Obtaining music is a problem. At current per copy prices, and with few available funds, purchasing enough music for the choir can be a significant challenge. Of course, that is why we developed Copypack Music–one copy takes care of the total group.

Regardless of how you acquire music, who you buy it from, and how much money you have to spend, there are some things you can do that will maximize your efforts.

The first step is having a good music library. As simple as it sounds, to have a good music library takes some effort and organization. As a stake (area) music director, I have had the opportunity to go through the music libraries of a number of churches. Too often, I have found music in piles, some parts missing, and, in general, pretty disorganized. As much fun as it isn't, someone (probably you) needs to spend some time and sort and place the music into file folders or envelopes. You may be lucky enough to have a member of the choir who would actually like to do that. Be sure and write the titles on the outside. Putting numbers on the individual music is also helpful.

Keep track of what you have. While getting new music is important, hanging on to what you have is essential. Take the folder or envelope to choir practice. Pass out the music to the group. Make sure they pass it in at the end of the practice. You may have a few individuals who want to take the music home to work on it. Be sure and note who those folks are, and the number of the music they are taking. That way, you can follow up if they forget to bring it back. There is a lot of missing music in a lot of piano benches in a large number of homes. Regardless of their good intentions, people just forget.

Copy only if it is legal. Making copies helps you stretch your dollars. However, you should never make copies of copyrighted music unless given permission. It seems a bit inappropriate to use music that is breaking the law in a church service. Some of the music in hymnals and from other books, such as the Children's Song Book, for example, and music like Copypack Music, may with certain restrictions, be copied. Even that costs. To maximize this music, it is best to have it three-hole punched and put in some kind of a binder. Keep adding to these binders and you will end up with your own choir books. The music will not become lost or worn as rapidly and can be used for years.

All of this may seem like a lot of work and bother. It probably is. However, the end result is that you will have more music, easier access, and develop a library that can be used by choir directors in your church for years and years.

—Roy L. Rummler, Director, Copypack Music [Vol I, No9] (

[NOTE: Tips for Music Directors cover topics to assist individuals who are involved in music. Copying and use is permitted as long as the full credit noted at the end of the article is copied with the article. We accept suggestions for future articles. ]

6. The Unbalanced Choir

Recently, a music director ask for some tips on selecting music for an unbalanced choir. Before we deal with that, let us look at the root of the problem: the diversity of choir members and choir member skills and voices, and the lack of individuals for each part. I quote ". . .you only have three tenors and one bass on the best of days, but usually only one of each, and most of the music seems to have a strong men's part somewhere, and the altos overpower the sopranos because they are mature, rich-voiced adults and the sops are sweet young women with sweet young voices"

We would all like a balance of singers–sopranos, altos, tenors and basses– with evenly matched voices, plus the skills to read and sing whatever. Well . . . . that may happen some places and some times, but . . . it may not be your usual.

The first thing that needs to be addressed is the establishment of the most complete choir possible, and to get them to practices and performances. There are always people in the congregation who can sing, but do not join your group. It is important to remember that the better organized you are and the more you accomplish with the time you have, the more likely you are to have the most singers. Some help with this task was addressed in article #4, How to Get Choir Members to Attend Practices. It counts for both current members and those who you are trying to get to join.

If you have made every effort and you still find yourself with the choir configuration noted above, you need to look at the music with range, melody and parts in mind. If you do not read music or play the piano well, sit down with someone who does. Have that person help. I provided some suggestions that fit this problem in article #2 What to do when the music seems too difficult. I suggest you take a moment and review it.

So, if worse comes to worse, here you are at choir practice. Rule number 1: be positively frank. In forty years of experience, I have found that dealing with situations straightforward is by far most effective. In that advice, I emphasize the word positively, and add the word sincere. For example, I had a choir with a very strong soprano. She had a very nice voice, quite a bit of experience, projected extremely well, and could with no trouble at all, make the presentation sound like a soprano solo accompanied by the choir. I took her aside and told her how much I appreciated her being in the choir–and I did–and that her voice was very strong, and that we had to make sure that there was a balance. I told her to watch me and I would indicate how much volume we could use from her. She was very responsive and heeded my signals well.

Rule number 2: proactively deal with it . Sometimes we feel like we just can't operate with the situation, and that it will never change anyway. Let us use the choir noted above (first paragraph). I would express appreciation for the young ladies being there–even get them together to do a special number. That would allow me to work with them and help them become more confident and develop their voices. I would express gratitude to the altos for their strength in carrying their part and help them learn to balance. An aside, I love the sound of the alto sections so try to include in many of my arrangements, a focus on that group. I would also probably have one or two altos sing the tenor part, and on some numbers have the tenor sing bass. I would also be out recruiting a bass or two. As far as music with "strong men's parts," particularly when they have the melody, I would add some ladies. The color and sound of the two kinds of voices singing in octaves is very effective.

Obviously we have only touched a few points. However, if each one is addressed earnestly, they will help.

Finally, remember that choirs are like testimonies, it is the sincerity and the spirit that makes the greatest impact. Some points for thought are in article #1 Don't Forget the Music for the Notes.

[NOTE: Tips for Music Directors cover topics to assist individuals who are involved in music. Copying and use is permitted as long as the full credit noted at the end of the article is copied with the article. We accept suggestions for future articles. ]


I see, hear, and read about problems of choir directors trying to determine what to do in various church meeting situations. This is of particular concern to directors in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, for those of you who are of another faith, this may be worth reading.

In some churches, the music directors and organists are paid. While in others, it is a voluntary and non-paying service. In some churches, individuals apply for the job, in some they volunteer, and in some they are asked, or "called" to positions. In all cases, and in all churches, once you have accepted the position you are expected to abide by certain rules. You are also expected to make certain decisions.

In the LDS church, only hymns, arrangements of hymns, or very selective choir music are considered appropriate for worship services. In many other denominations, praise songs, religious popular music, and even warm-up bands are allowed. Thus, the selection and performance of music for LDS services requires considerable evaluation.

In the LDS church, ward (congregations) music people are under a music chairperson. They are also under the direction of an area (stake) music chairperson. The leader of each congregation, called the bishop, a non-professional, non-paid clergy, is also responsible for all things in the meetings–including music. Ward choir directors can find themselves caught between a bishop and the music chairperson or the stake chairperson. This can cause some concerns. Here are some suggestions to help keep everyone on the same page and making the best choices.

First, the stake music chairman has a responsibility to educate the bishops. In my past experience as stake music director, I asked the stake presidency to allow me to periodically address the bishops. In that meeting, I reminded the bishops that the handbook states that they need to ". . .decide what music is appropriate." [Church Handbook of Instructions, Book 2, Section 14]. As stake music chairman, it was my calling to assist them.

I then reviewed several areas. What is appropriate music. Many semi-pop songs are sung in Sacrament meetings. They are appropriate for some meetings, but not that one. A definition and some examples are always helpful. The use of instruments? The handbook is often misinterpreted. At Brigham Young University, our brass quartet played in sacrament meetings. Bishops need to know what makes the difference between acceptable and not acceptable. I covered copyright problems–unless specifically specified on the music, it is against the law to copy and use copyrighted music. We also talked about how to handle these concerns without injuring people.

I recommended that when bishops had questions, they ask their music people. If there were still questions, they needed to talk to the stake music chairperson.

Finally, they needed to remember that just as they were called to be bishops, so were the music people called to their positions. And, with that calling there were responsibilities to lead and to make decisions. There were also keys given and spiritual guidance promised.

The admonition is to teach one another, to study diligently, to pray always, to have faith, to ask and ponder. You have been placed in charge. That carries not only responsibility, but also a blessing. Do all you can to find the right answers. Have faith in yourself. Then, ask your Heavenly Father for His assistance.

—Roy L. Rummler, Director, Copypack Music [Vol I, No.7] (

[NOTE: Tips for Music Directors cover topics to assist individuals who are involved in music. Copying and use is permitted as long as the full credit noted at the end of the article is copied with the article. We accept suggestions for future articles. ]


9. The Christmas Quandary

Christmas is a time of music. It is everywhere–on the radio, the television specials, a revival of the old movie musicals, and of course, in the churches. So, what to do for the worship service? Every year, this is the topic of much discussion and even dissension among choir directors.

There are a lot of cantatas out there–some good and some not so good–and more formal works by the great masters. You can find very complex to fairly manageable. However, unless this is a concert, it is important to remember that this is a time when everyone should be involved. Thus, for your sacrament meeting or worship service, the most touching and impacting use of music at Christmas time is simple and involving.

Use a couple of favorite arrangements of traditional sacred Christmas music for the choir. Even pick them out of your hymnal and modify them a little, a solo or duet for one part, or a number with only the women or men singing for a verse or two, or even the entire piece. Add a flute obligato. A harp is a wonderful addition, and there are more of them around than you realize. Just keep it simple. Leave the Alleluia Chorus for the concert.

Second, be sure that you have the congregation involved. Christmas is the time when people who never sing, do sing. Be sure that the numbers they sing are the favorites like Silent Night or O Little Town of Bethlehem.

If you are in charge of the total program, have some simple and short narration. It ties the program together, provides a breather between the music, and also gives a double dose to reminds us what this holiday should be all about. With the plethora of advertisements beginning sometime after July–or so it seems–a little extra effort to put people in the proper spirit, is well worth while.

Use the children. There is nothing that brings tears to my eyes more consistently, and a humbleness to my heart, than the children. You may want to use just a few, or all that there are. It is a time of the celebration of a birth; it is only fitting that children be involved.

Lastly, relax. This should be a time that brings us back to the basics. It is a time of peace. It should not be a time of fussing, frustration and turmoil. If you are in the latter frame of mind, you will be too focused on the "thing" instead of the spirit.

No, the New York Times may not write rave reviews and the congregation may not want to stand and applaud the performance. But, if they go away not even thinking about rating your performance and instead have felt enriched by the music and touched by the spirit of Christ's birth and what that really means, you have accomplished your goal–thou faithful servant.

—Roy L. Rummler, Director, Copypack Music [Vol I, No9] (

[NOTE: Tips for Music Directors cover topics to assist individuals who are involved in music. Copying and use is permitted as long as the full credit noted at the end of the article is copied with the article. We accept suggestions for future articles. ]



"Keep it legal." I am sure that sounds a bit strange for a "Tips" directed at church choir directors. However, there is a need to make sure we don't preach one thing while practicing another. Of course, I am referring to copying copyrighted music.

With the cost of music and the efforts to find appropriate music for the choir, restrictions on copying music is frustrating. It creates a problem. And, after all, it really isn't too difficult to copy music. Often librarians and copy businesses do not pay attention to copyright markings or restrictions before copying music. And, of course, there are unsupervised copy machines in libraries and stores everywhere. To top it all off, church leaders want you to do a difficult job and they don't provide the money needed to do it! Making copies seems the only way out. So, what to do.

First, determine that you will set the appropriate example for your choir members by not copying restricted music. Not only is your own integrity important, but you are actually teaching your choir members a correct principle. And, by the way, having worked in the music field, I can tell you that when music publishing companies decide to push–as I have seen them do in schools–the cost is very significant; the fines would take your budget for the rest of your life, and maybe into the next.

Second, find music that may be copied. For example, many of the hymns published may be used, copied, arranged, or whatever. Some music has a note that it may be copied for "non-commercial use"–basically, you can't copy and sell it, or make arrangements and sell it, but you can copy and use it. Be careful here, however, some of the music in pretty open hymn books is fine to copy while some of the music in the very same books has very tight restrictions. Just read the information on the page. Of course, several individuals and companies like Copypack Music, put out music that may be legally copied. That allows you to get different arrangements and make copies for very little expense, or even free.

Third, get permission. Actually, even some music with the © symbol or written restrictions may be copied with permission. Sometimes that is free. Sometimes it is not. Sometimes it is difficult to find the person to get the release from. Still, if it is something that you really want to use with your choir and you need copies, it may be worth your phone call and/or letter. If you want permission, however, you need to think ahead and start the process far enough in advanced that you won't be doing Christmas music in the middle of summer.

Fourth, when you do use copied music, make your choir members aware that it is legally copied. That way, not only do you let them know of the importance of choosing the right, but you also set the example for future choir directors who will eventually emerge from your choir.

—Roy L. Rummler, Director, Copypack Music [Vol I, No10] (

[NOTE: Tips for Music Directors cover topics to assist individuals who are involved in music. Copying and use is permitted as long as the full credit noted at the end of the article is copied with the article. We accept suggestions for future articles. ]