Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Choir: Boys Don't Sing 3

I've started blogging episode by episode, so may as well see it through! The Choir: Boys Don't Sing traces the efforts of singing teacher Gareth Malone to get an all-boys school in Leicester singing. They seem to prefer rugby and fighting, but he gradually wins them over.

The first 2 episodes saw Gareth calling the choir together (1) and developing them into a singing unit (2). Week 3 had a different challenge. Gareth wanted the choir to sing at the Royal Albert Hall - nothing like aiming high - within 6 months of first coming together. That not only demonstrated incredible confidence in them, but also in himself as a leader and trainer. One of the things I love is his refusal to give up. Ok it's a bit easier when you're only in a school for a year, but despite repeated setbacks, Gareth refused to be deflected from his vision. Key thing for a leader.

Various aspects of part 3 which struck me:

- Setting the bar high. A challenge brings the best out of people, it makes them stretch themselves. In our discipleship training, do we do this? If a schoolteacher can expect kids with no singing training to progress to national standard within a year, are we too low in our expectations of how people can grow as Chrisitans? Gareth refused to leave development to chance - choir practice, individual singing lessons, bringing in inspirational people, pushing them out of their comfort zones. How many of our churches are schools of spiritual growth, and how many are just an easy chair? How many of our members would be shocked if growth in grace were expected as the norm, rather than tolerated as a random side effect?

- Mixed economy. In this episode, Gareth finally got the 'MCs' singing - a group of playground rappers with a good sense of rhythm and tune, but who'd decided the choir wasn't cool enough for them. Part of this was about helping a key member of this group to let go of his fear and start singing, part of it was to find a mode of singing they could relate to. By the end of the episode, there were effectively 2 choirs - the main group training for the Albert Hall, and the MC's developing a beatbox/acapella style. How (if?) he brings them together will be interesting. Made me think of the concept of a 'mixed economy' church - that there is no monolithic model of how the church should be, and if we allow the church to express people's culture, rather than swamp it, that we might end up with more life and variety rather than less.

- Team and individual. As well as developing the main choir, Gareth spent a lot of time with individuals, helping them to push pass pain barriers and conquer fears. Again, a great model. If you neglect the individual, the team won't work, and vice versa. Jesus spends lots of time with individuals, as well as with his 'team' of disciples.

- Demanding commitment. Gareth wasn't afraid to ask for commitment. He rang all the absentee choir members, one by one, to ask them to sign up or drop out. A good response followed, numbers at rehearsals virtually trebled. This made me think about a recent Premier TV interview with Carl Beech, of Christian Viewpoint for Men, who says that men need to rise to a challenge, and often the church doesn't ask enough of men to keep them interested.


  1. I've passed by a few times - so I decided to comment tonight!

    I really like your analysis and the comparison with other walks of life.

    I like the way that Gareth never seems to give up, he keeps encouraging and nurturing the latent talent in these boys - and they seem to be gaining so much from it. I'm thinking that 9 o'clock on Friday nights on BBC2 is the place to be - Extreme Pilgrim, The Choir..., what next??

  2. Thanks for dropping by - I've been wondering who all these new visitors were!

    I must admit that after the end of Extreme Pilgrim I struggled to find anything watchable on TV, but the Choir, along with Ashes to Ashes and last nights The Last Enemy, has got me back in the armchair again. I'm resisting the urge to blog about everything I watch on TV, but only just....!