Invariably, the one who “can’t sing,” is the most faithful, most energetic, and sometimes…the most spiritual choir member!

“I’ll move around and see if I can spot who it is.”

Ah yes, the infamous “Barney and the Choir” from The Andy Griffith Show, Season 2, Episode 20. We all remember it, we all laughed, we still do. What makes it, in my opinion, one of the best episodes of all time on The Andy Griffith Show , is the reoccurrence of that particular episode every Sunday in our churches.


A church choir can be an incredible asset to our church services: raising our spirits to the heights of bliss, and at times bringing us before the very presence of God. But the road to a well-rounded, vibrant, musically articulate, and dynamic choir can be a rocky one. Sometimes it’s those loud basses…or those sour altos, the squeaky sopranos, or those, those, those…oh how do I put it?…bellowing tenors! (I am a tenor, believe me, I know). And then….there’s that one member, or members…they love God, but they struggle, just like Barney.

Choir directors, if you’re like me, you’ve probably wondered what to do with those that struggle musically, but want to sing in your choir. Here are some helpful tips that you could implement to help them get better, and at the same time not lose all your “able” singers.

  • Recognize and constantly remind yourself that it is a ministry choir, not a competition choir
  • Have T.E.A. (Talent Evaluation Appointments—better name than “tryout”) before you start your choir
  • During T.E.A. endeavor to weed out any singer who cannot even sing a melody when played on the piano
  • Assess whether the singer is a part-leaner or a part-reader
  • Surround the part-leaners with part-readers
  • Try never to place two part-leaners next to each other
  • In the choir seats, have part-readers stand where they sing past the ear of the part-leaner
  • Take at least 5-8 minutes each choir practice to teach something concerning part-reading

In future posts I will try to give a few more tips on what to do when you cannot find any part-readers.

If you have questions, suggestions, or comments, please write them below.

Assistant Pastor, Cornerstone Baptist Church, Findlay, OH