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Leader gives singer an ultimatum.

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Axtman, Mar 4, 2014.

  1. Axtman

    Axtman Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2008
    Seattle, Washington
    My worship leader, "Jill" (not her real name) gave one of our church band singers "Sally" and ultimatum. Jill told Sally to either get singing lessons or don't come back. Jill sent an email and was not that harsh. The deal is that Sally must take at least 2 months of weekly singing lessons in order to return.

    I for one and really glad that Jill did this, though am frustrated that it took her so long. Sally is so bad that she is turned off in the PA and other monitors. Nobody wants to stand by Sally because of she sings off pitch and throws the other good singers off.

    Sally is a nice lady and has a great heart but she has not been willing to make an effort to improve. Also the band is frustrated that Sally will show up late with others setting up her equipment for her, then leave early while others put her equipment away. We have tried for years to encourage her to get lessons but we always get a million excuses.
  2. xabicho

    xabicho Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2009
    Long Beach, California
    Roger Guitars
    Perhaps singing is not for her, maybe she can play flute or other instrument.
  3. Axtman

    Axtman Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2008
    Seattle, Washington
    No. Are you kidding? Learning a musical instrument would require that she put in some effort and actually practice! ;-)

    Sally has recommended that maybe she serve the church in other ways like work with kids. My feeling is that Sally likes to be up on stage and in the spotlight and "with the band".

    The rest of the band puts in a tremendous amount of effort to learn and rehearse the songs. Some of us stay after practice to run though parts until we get them down cold. Others in the band do additional practicing outside the church and some even take lessons. In recent months we have really stepped up our game and have become quite good. It is unfair to others that Sallys does not put in the effort that they do.
  4. Correcting pitch deficiencies isn't impossible, but nearly so.
  5. jolok


    Nov 26, 2013
    Tacoma, WA
    is definitely the best policy here. "Jill"'s move was a step in the correct direction. While I understand that "Sally" is considered a nice person, that's beside the point. She's obviously detracting in almost every way from the musical experience, and should be replaced.
  6. From a BM viewpoint - that makes sense. However, from a spiritual viewpoint - it's a shame, how is she taking/handling the bad news?
  7. +1. I'm a nice person, but that doesn't mean I should be allowed to sing in public. Since I'm not a singer, I could be wrong but I doubt a couple months of singing lessons are going to help. If you are that bad and can't even stay on key maybe she should try another instrument.
  8. I've seen this sort of thing happen many times. It's sad to go but provided that it's the in the best interest of the band and the church, then there should be no hesitation. There is nothing wrong with high standards, especially for the people who will be on stage leading others in worship. At our church if someone doesn't make the worship team we'll encourage people to serve in other ministries they care for. We also encourage people to find a church that they are passionate to serve at, and give what they can there... even if that's not at our church.

    Good luck, sounds like the right call was made.
  9. Axtman

    Axtman Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2008
    Seattle, Washington
    I even bought a Roland VT-12 vocal trainer in hopes that Sally would use it! She was not interested.

    Jill has learned her lesson about auditioning people before accepting them into the band. Jill feels badly about being forced to give an ultimatum but Jill gets frustrated by Sally's lack of commitment and is tired of hearing others complain about Sally.

    There is another singer, "Rob", who also is not very good. But unlike Sally, Rob shows up early to practice and many times sets up everyone's mike stand and music stand before we get there. He also stays late and works through rough parts. And to top it off, Jill recommended that he take vocal lessons and he jumped on it. He takes weekly vocal lessons from a professional singer. Rob is busting his hump for the group and himself.

    Sally is naturally offended but that said Jill is not kicking her out of the band. She is giving her a choice. If Sally really wants to remain with the band she will show some initiative by getting lessons and working on improving.

    Everyone has gifts and not everyone's gift is music. I would be lousy at working with children and the elderly, but some people would excel and be perfectly suited for that mission. Sally needs to find her calling and how she can use her talents for the benefit of the church.
  10. tgriley62


    Jan 25, 2011
    S.E. Mo
    Hand her a tambourine:p
  11. Axtman

    Axtman Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2008
    Seattle, Washington
    Tamborine?!!! Oh geez NO!!!

    There have been times where Jill will pick up a tambourine and half way through the song I want to go over and snatch it from her hands and beat her with it! But that is not very Christian attitude. Some people are rhythm deaf.
  12. Firesalt

    Firesalt Is good enough. Supporting Member

    May 18, 2010
    Charlotte, NC
    Oh no...
    We had a singer that thought it was a good idea to play one to help out. She threw off the whole 15 piece ensemble and even the drummer of 30 years was having trouble. Eventually he asked someone to remove it. It requires a solid sense of rhythm and some ability.
  13. More Cowbell? :D
    Fat Steve likes this.
  14. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    Singing lessons will never help a terrible singer but they will help a good singer get better.
  15. There is a real simple answer to this question, and I'm not being a smart-aleck.

    I'm assuming this is a Christian church, and if so, WWJD? How would he address it?

    Answer that question and you have your answer. Actually, true for everything in life.
  16. Hopefully someone can help her find a different role in the church.
  17. Bingo

    Bingo Banned

    Mar 3, 2014
    South by Southwest
    This is a problem with many churches. They don't know how to say no. But as others have suggested, perhaps the best way to handle it is to find something the woman is good at. Then all but beg her to "help the church" by using her talent in that field. That way, she gets to save face, and the church gets the benefit of her services in a way that is actually a contribution.

    Honestly, I would hope that someone in the church would handle a matter like this in a better way than "get lessons or don't come back". There are a thousand nicer ways to get the same end result without embarrassing the lady.
  18. Axtman

    Axtman Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2008
    Seattle, Washington

    I did not see the exact email but I do know that Jill was as tactful and as polite as she could be.

    This ultimatum was a long time coming. Too long probably. We had given Sally every opportunity to improve. Many of the singers in the band offered to work with her, but she refused or made excuses. We recommended vocal instructors but again, no dice. I though for sure when she saw that Rob was taking lessons that she would be motivated to sign up. She has resisted help every step of the way.

    BTW, Jill did not fire her. Jill gave her a choice. If she really wants to be in the worship band she will get lessons. The lessons are for HER good.
  19. Yeah, this is never fun...

    IME, people who sing out of tune fall into one of two categories:

    1. They have some skills, but when singing parts, they creep out of tune unless someone else singing the same part is right next to them, or

    2. They are oblivious

    With the first category, they usually are open to constructive criticism, willing to try new techniques, and at some level, know that they can't control their pitch all the time. One of the best things I've seen used lately for this type of case is the use of a pitch correcter/vocal tuner pedal at the end of the mic cord where the vocal mic cords plug into the floor or wall. That person uses that specific mic, and nobody knows the difference after the first rehearsal anymore.

    With the second category, well, it's more about the attitude than anything. That can't be corrected by lessons, pitch-correctors, or anything else that is done for them--they have to want it.

    FWIW, I don't subscribe to the "it's good enough" theory when it comes to this stuff, whether in church or not.

    All the best,