How to Start a Brand New Choir, Christmas Program Wrap-up

We asked Matt Williams a few more questions about how the Christmas program went for his community choir and what the future of the choir looks like. We want to share his experience with you and we hope this encourages you as you consider starting a choir and as you look forward to next Christmas.

What was your favorite moment during the rehearsal season?

Matt Williams: One of my favorite moments this year came one night after rehearsal during a conversation over ice cream. My wife, boys, and I thought it would be cool for us to be part of a Flash Mob with the choir. So, the following week I told the choir about the plan and the next two weeks after rehearsal, we flash mobbed two restaurants in the community. I’ve never been more nervous before a performance or had more fun than I did that night. We all decided it would become an annual tradition for the Voice of Joy. It was truly something we talked about the rest of the year and will remember forever.

What was the biggest challenge you faced? How did it pan out?

MW: Since I planned to have two outdoor shows, the very unpredictable Oklahoma weather played havoc with our dates, times, and locations the week of our concerts. They were expecting a massive ice storm on Friday and then 7 inches of snow on Saturday. We changed the time and location and went from 2 shows to just one. We still had more than 200 people in attendance, so take that Oklahoma weather!

What was your favorite arrangement?

MW: I think my favorite arrangement was “On Christmas Day.” I loved the build up from beginning to end and it was a perfect wrap-up for this program.

What song did your group love singing the most?

MW: This is a hard one because I really loved something about all the songs in the program. I guess if I can only pick one, I’d have to choose “How Glad the Heart.” This was the song that made me say “yes” to the whole book, Christmas Is Real. From the first rehearsal of the song, the choir had a hard time keeping a dry eye.

Did you get any feedback from the community about the choir?

MW: I think the community responded to the Voice of Joy formation in several different ways. First, the number of choir members, 30, that committed themselves to weekly rehearsals told me there was a serious desire for connection through music. Second, our concert dates and outdoor plans literally changed twice the week of the concert because of the threat of Oklahoma weather and we still had a full house, more than 200 people in attendance. Third, after the program, the crowd pulled choir members aside and let them know how much they loved, enjoyed, and appreciated their hard work and their expression of worship during the presentation. It also sparked a fire in several people to join the choir this year!

What is something you did that you would avoid in the future?

MW: This year I tried to connect people who could not participate in the entire program through solos and duets, but I wouldn’t do that again this year. I reached out to several music academies asking for a few select student singers to join us. It was nerve-wracking not being able to hear the singers until dress rehearsal, especially the duet. I’d like to think I have a good ear for selecting those singers that match the song from my own choir, so it was difficult to give up that power to someone else I had to trust 100%.

Did this experience help you see Christmas in a new way?

MW: I love Christmas! It’s my favorite holiday, hands down. I love the joy, excitement, and hope this season brings and when you share it with a group of people united in faith, amazing things can happen, and lives can change forever!

If you could do it all over again, would you? Why?

MW: Absolutely! Without thinking twice! I’m already making notes and planning for the program in 2019 and how will it be bigger and better than last year.

What did God affirm in you during this journey?

MW: For me, following through when God imprints purpose on your heart is always the right choice. If you’re faithful to answer the call, He is faithful to see you through and pour out His blessing in abundance!

People still love a good choir! They love participating in and listening to one. It provides an amazing source of support, encouragement, laughter, prayer, tears, and human connection that is hard to get in one place outside of this unique community.

What is next for your group?

MW: This group will serve primarily at Christmas, so for now we will be on hiatus until later this year when we start rehearsals in August.

About the Author: Matt Williams is married with two teenage sons and resides in Bixby, Oklahoma where he and his wife serve at Life.Church. Matt brought people together from surrounding communities to form the Voice of Joy Community Choir. Psalm 71:23 is the verse that inspired their name.

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