Can I be a choral director if I don't understand music theory?

I'm a rising senior in high school, and I tried to take AP Theory last fall. Now that AP tests have rolled around, I have realized I remember little to no music theory, and I am having major issues understanding this stuff. I want to be a choral director, and I am under the direction of one of the best choral directors in the South East US, but I honestly don't know if I can do it because of my lack of skill in theory. Should I just give up?

6 Answers

  • 7 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    I suggest you ask the "best choral directors" in the Southeast United States about their credentials and whether they think you would make a good choir director without bothering to improve your understanding of music theory. The "best choral directors" I know were ones that attended a university or college to get a music degree that would require them to study music theory among other things. Choral directors in schools generally have teaching degrees as well.

    The American Choral Directors Association actually has a student membership for high school and college students who intend to seek professional careers as choral directors. It's intended as a resource to connections and programs that will aid in students gaining the experience and knowledge necessary to become successful and effective conductors.

    Here's a list of prominent choral directors--read what kind of music education and training they have.

    Check out the requirements to even get into a music program at most universities. Without any, or little, formal training, you will be going up against those WITH training for any choral directing job you may want. I picked random colleges and universities in the southeastern United States.

  • 7 years ago

    Sure, you should indeed just give up -- as terminally incompetent and not suited to the job description -- if you want to pretend to a choral director's job of any kind.

    > don't know if I can do it because of my lack of skill in theory. Should I just give up?

    That is a grotesque manipulation attempt -- 'give up' suggesting the "huge effort" you haven't yet actually made -- to make a responder pity you and withhold the truth. Which you already know. As such, as a director you would be responsible for your chorus's understanding of what the music means TECHNICALLY: they are going to take their understanding FROM YOU, first off: that's what the job is all about.

    Alternatively, get with the programme and put in the work to clear your blind spots and start to think as a musician and draw the necessary consequences. Then ask the Q again. Your choice.

    Nuff said.

    All the best,

  • 7 years ago

    To be an effective choral director you would need to learn theory at some point. Maybe you just need a different teacher, but you really shouldn't be directing a choir if you don't understand the music. Would you expect to be a math teacher if you didn't understand algebra?

  • 4 years ago

    Why not just are trying a few web sites that have classes, given that there are such a large amount of what perhaps easy or just right for some could no longer be convenient or good for you. The guitar as with all instrument takes follow, that's how you be taught to alter chords quickly

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  • 7 years ago

    Let's take your question and cast it in a slightly different light.

    "I want to be an English teacher, but I lack skill in grammar. Should I just give up?"


    "I wanna be a doctor but I suck at organic chemistry. Should I just give up?"

    What would your answer be?

    Your students and fellow musicians are depending on your expertise, so you had sure as heck better be an expert. Otherwise you will be a fraud.


  • 7 years ago

    You can be a choral director without knowing the ends and out of musical theory. You aren't composing the music that your choir will sing. You are interpreting it, bringing the musical intentions of the composer that are on the written page to life through your singers. You will need to balance chords that are divided between the various voices, but you will not have to analyze those chords unless you want to.

    EDIT: When I think of music theory, I think of all that analyzing of chords from the first chord to the last chord of a composition. This is very important for those who want to becoming a composer. This is NOT necessary if one is the conductor of a choral group. Musical detail is more important....balancing voices, bringing out the melodic line, tempo, dynamics and recognition of musical form. These are all musical aspects that are taught in choral conducting class, not theory class.

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