The following is not a rant against Carlebach Minyanim. I dance (well, shuffle) at them. I have led them. I instituted them occasionally when I was a shul rabbi.
This is also not a rant against minyanim that run overtime, as Carlebach Minyanim do. In the name of spirituality and fervor, I am more than happy to offer up the ten or fifteen minutes of my time that these take.
This is a rant against Carlebach tunes.
When I hear recordings of R' Shlomo Carlebach singing, I hear energy and life, fervor and inspiration. All too often, though, when I hear shuls sing Kabbolas Shabbos to Carlebach tunes I hear dirges [as well as chazanim who aren't sure when to go to the high part, and minyanim that split between high and low].
I hear people singing this tune because it's the tune they are supposed to sing, not because they feel anything.
I hear some people naively trying to match the tune with the words and phrases of Tehillim, and others giving up and just going with the flow.
I hear people mumbling their way through because they have been drafted into this service unwillingly.
And I hear loads of voices not singing as well, because hearing the same tune, week after week, is anything but inspiring. [If Kol Nidrei was a weekly experience, people wouldn't find that traditional tune moving, either.]
This is not true of all shuls, of course, or of all chazanim. But it is true of enough of them that I am writing this. [It is NOT true of any chazanim I have heard in the past several weeks – I've been sitting on this post for quite a while, and it was triggered by an experience that was not in the shul I normally attend.]
So here is my recommendation, for chazanim who want to motivate their communities: Sing! Sing just the ends of the paragraphs or sing the entire paragraphs, sing solo or lead a conga line! But please, please – sing a different tune, not a Carlebach tune. Sing the lively tune you heard at a wedding. Sing something relevant to that time of year. Sing a tune you've made up yourself [but clue people in first, perhaps] – but please, please, when the urge comes upon you to impose Carlebach tyranny upon the tzibbur, ask yourself: Is this the most inspiring way I can lead my community?