Doug Wilson has 7 principles on “how to motivate young men of middle and high school age to enjoy singing well to the glory of God.” You may not agree with all of this, but I think there is some pretty good stuff here. Principle 1 talks about the priority of raising boys to be masculine. Principle 2 follows with this:
“We learn by imitation, and imitation involves persons and personal characteristics. If the music master is not the kind of man that the boys would like to be when they are grown, then they are generally going to avoid the musical pursuits that this man is offering to train them in. If the boys ahead of them in whatever discipline it is (violin lessons, piano or voice lessons, etc.) are admirable to the younger boys, then they will want to catch up with them. If not, then they won’t.”
I would add one item to this point. Principle 2 applies to all persons in pastoral ministry, not just music ministers. Boys are looking for modelsâ€”exemplars of manhood. They notice when it is missing, and they will drift in its absence. This principle of “imitation” is, therefore, key for all church leaders to understand.
In principle 7, Wilson says there may be something to learn from the attraction of rock music. He writes:
“Instead of sniffing at the popularity of rockâ€¦ we need to cultivate some humility at this point. We have to recognize that rock is vastly superior to more cultivated forms of music in at least one area — its ability to attract boys to music. If your theory about this is that rock does it all with half-naked girls, you haven’t thought about the subject nearly enough. The immorality of rock culture, and the inanity of the baby, baby, baby school of high poetry, are certainly worthy of our notice. But at the end of the day, they know how to do something that accomplished musicians and musical programs usually do very poorly. In the credit where credit is due department, we should be willing to try to learn what that is.”
Like I said, there’s some good stuff in Wilson’s short essay, and you can read the rest of it here.