'Making a Joyful Noise 101' DVD offers help to choristers

By Whit Larson

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Dec. 17 2011 5:00 a.m. MST

"Making a Joyful Noise - 101" DVD

Whit Larson

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"MAKING A JOYFUL NOISE — 101," by Alison Herron, Young @ Heart, $19

A Mormon chorister with years of experience has created a DVD to help other music leaders become adept at their callings.

Alison Herron said her desire, “above and beyond teaching you what you need to know technically to become a capable music director, (is to have) church meetings that build more testimonies, enlighten more minds, and touch more hearts because of meaningful worship through music.”

Despite the low production quality and corny jokes, “Making a Joyful Noise — 101” is packed with good information. Herron is obviously comfortable leading music and has many great tips for those who may not share that comfort zone with her.

The DVD is divided into categories for working with an accompanist, hymn selection, general pointers, music notation, mood and tempo, the basics of directing, avoiding common mistakes and applying the basics.

Herron teaches the basics of music notations, time signatures and conducting.

She also helps with trickier issues. For example, she demonstrates how to do a preparatory movement for songs beginning with pickup notes, answers the question of what to do if the timing goes “off” in conducting, and teaches four alternative methods for conducting 6/8 time.

She recommends having the congregation stand more often and talking with members ahead of time to sing special parts such as descants during a congregational hymn. She also suggests leading a quick 4 instead of a slow 2 pattern for hymns that tend to drag.

The LDS Church offers a 42-minute interactive conducting course at lds.org/churchmusic, and “Making a Joyful Noise — 101” can supplement that instruction.

Whit Larson's first calling was ward music leader. She currently serves in the Young Women organization. She produces MomsCookingCrisis.com, WhatWeDidInMutual.com and occasionally blogs at WhitLarson.com.

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