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Lyr Req: Backing Music for church choirs

GUEST,Jacqued 27 Jan 08 - 03:59 PM
Janie 27 Jan 08 - 04:13 PM
GUEST,Jacqued 27 Jan 08 - 04:16 PM
Janie 27 Jan 08 - 04:19 PM
Liz the Squeak 27 Jan 08 - 04:21 PM
greg stephens 27 Jan 08 - 05:57 PM
Janie 27 Jan 08 - 06:40 PM
wysiwyg 27 Jan 08 - 07:16 PM
Padre 27 Jan 08 - 09:18 PM
banjoman 31 Jan 08 - 07:01 AM
oldhippie 31 Jan 08 - 07:25 AM
Mooh 31 Jan 08 - 08:46 AM
Liz the Squeak 31 Jan 08 - 10:13 AM
GUEST,JohnB 31 Jan 08 - 10:52 AM
PoppaGator 01 Feb 08 - 12:49 PM
wysiwyg 16 Feb 08 - 09:48 AM
wysiwyg 16 Feb 08 - 09:51 AM
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Subject: Lyr Req: Backing Music for church choirs
From: GUEST,Jacqued
Date: 27 Jan 08 - 03:59 PM

A bit unusual this, but Mudcatcafe has yet to let me down.   Our little church will soon lose it's organist (old age and creaking fingers) and there is not another in sight!   I have been told there is a commercial set of cd's containing backing tracks for church choirs to sing hymns, carols and psalms to but vannot trace a source.   Double help, please!   Many thanks.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Backing Music for church choirs
From: Janie
Date: 27 Jan 08 - 04:13 PM

I found the following.

http://www.pioneer.org.uk/Shop/Sections/Items/Item.aspx?item_id=32112

It's a UK site.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Backing Music for church choirs
From: GUEST,Jacqued
Date: 27 Jan 08 - 04:16 PM

Janie, you're a star!   What did you put into Google that I didn't!?!
Many thanks.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Backing Music for church choirs
From: Janie
Date: 27 Jan 08 - 04:19 PM

I tried a couple of different things. I got the above hit when I googled "backing tracks hymns choral" (no quotes) I didn't look beyond the site I linked to above. There may be others.

Janie


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Backing Music for church choirs
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 27 Jan 08 - 04:21 PM

Songs of Fellowship hymn books also have CDs to accompany them. Many have downloadable Midis that you can play back on a laptop/speaker combo in your church.

SoF is published by Kingsway Music who might have something useful.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Backing Music for church choirs
From: greg stephens
Date: 27 Jan 08 - 05:57 PM

Accompanying hymns with CDs?And people wonder why fewer and fewer people go to church. Still, it's not surprising, people confuse McDonald's with food, and internet porn with sex.Welcome to the 21st century.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Backing Music for church choirs
From: Janie
Date: 27 Jan 08 - 06:40 PM

Greg, that was my 1st thought also. However, this may be a church without a budget for an organist or pianist. It may be the current organist was a member of the congregation who played as a labor of love, and there is no one in the congregation who can replace her.

Having said that, my mother's church has a very good organist, and quite a nice organ and piano. Yet there is a soprano soloist who nearly always sets up a karoke machine and uses a backing track to accompany her. It is completely incongruous and drives me nuts when I go to church with Mom.

Janie


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Backing Music for church choirs
From: wysiwyg
Date: 27 Jan 08 - 07:16 PM

I played for a whole year at a church that could afford neither organist nor organ repairs. I sang my heart out, and they broke it every time they said right to my face, "Oh, we miss our organ so much!" Or, "Someday we hope to have a real music program again." On the other hand, I have guested at services in churches that were dying to have us back any time we could come.

What it all boils down to, in my admittedly jaded opinion (IMAJO), is that when they pay for something, they want organ, but if you will play for free, you're a saint. Nothing to do with skills, sound, professionality, or music choice, either-- I've done it all. It's about the money. When money gets attached to church music, it doesn't matter what the music is. A pianist is as disrespected as I was-- they want ORGAN, whether they have a choir to lead the singing or not.

And if they use praise music, which is usually accompanied/led by amped vocal with guitar and electric keyboard, they assume that music will be provided at no charge by volunteers, who will give not only their time but their costs (music, instruments, strings, etc etc etc) in the bargain, and even, often, the whole sound system.

I believe ours is the last parish in our convocation BTW that has a choir. But the smaller churches that can afford paid music put it all into an organist, even if the people will absolutely not sing along because there is no choir, and no music leader.

Some churches do use a paid cantor as a songleader, and that's another alternative for a small church. But yes, organ out of a box (played for real onto CD or via MIDI) floats many a boat in church circles. Sad, but true.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Backing Music for church choirs
From: Padre
Date: 27 Jan 08 - 09:18 PM

All three of my parishes have organists: two use volunteers from the parish membership, and one uses a paid organist. The paid organist has just begun a new job which will (eventually) require her to leave our parish, but we have another member of the parish who can step in and play for us. This is what I call a real blessing, because at one time several years ago, we went through three organists in a year (relocation, lack of commitment, and relocation respectively).

At the time of our big upheaval with orgainists, we looked at something called 'the digital hymnal.' I can't immediately put my hands on the information, but you could Google that title and see what comes up.

Padre


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Backing Music for church choirs
From: banjoman
Date: 31 Jan 08 - 07:01 AM

Please dont try & accompany Church singing with CD or backing tapes.It dosn't work.
I have been playing in church for almost 45 years using Guitar/banjo/recorder plus various others.
Surely there must be one member of the congregation who plays something that could be used. Please try

As to the point about being paid - We have never been paid for playing in church but I do know that the Catholich Church is well known for this. However, on odd occasions, we have played for other denominations and been offered payment.
Churches rely too much on the good will of some members but will pay for so called "professional" music.
What part of the world are you in? There may be a local directory of organists or other musicians who play in church
Good luck
Pete


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Backing Music for church choirs
From: oldhippie
Date: 31 Jan 08 - 07:25 AM

Don't you have members that play instruments? We go to a "small" congregation, and even we have musicians among us. Accompaniment can be as simple as a flute and a harp. All you need is a mic and simple sound system.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Backing Music for church choirs
From: Mooh
Date: 31 Jan 08 - 08:46 AM

I would love cds with which to rehearse parts at home. Singing along with other choir recordings is not the same as having arrangements which match the hymn book. Because of work, I rarely get to an actual choir practice, so it's a good thing I read reasonably well.

However, I would hate to have cds in church. For me it's wrong on several levels. It takes away the live delivery of praise, and is it still praise if it's not live? It prevents the addition of instrumental breaks to accomodate what's going on at the moment (often in our parish, this will have to do with clergy or procession movement). We've been used to an organist who can transpose to accomodate singers' ranges and dynamics. The p.a. system required to amplify such recordings in a room the size of my parish church would be way more than we have now. The public speaking style p.a. can't compete with the dual chamber Casavant pipe organ for volume and range.

We have a paid organist, who we know will be very difficult to replace, but who has already celebrated his 60th year as a professional musician. The backup organist is a younger retiree. With the Casavant, a new grand piano, a small upright, a smallish unpaid choir, and lovely working conditions and surroundings, it's a good job for the right person, but how many organists are there who are willing to work weekends?

I suspect that eventually we will have an occassional organist rotating through a schedule with a pianist, and a small praise band. Nobody knows that yet, but it's coming. Tastes and conditions demand it.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Backing Music for church choirs
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 31 Jan 08 - 10:13 AM

It's all very well saying don't use CDs but beggars cannot be choosers. If an organist IS available, it's possible the church can't afford to pay the going rate - which if you're in the Musicians Union, in the UK, can be phenomenal!

It is perfectly likely that there is no-one in the congregation who feels confident enough in their playing to accompany a choir or the congregation.

I've lead congregations in singing, but never instrumentally. I have far more confidence in my voice than I do in my ability to play an instrument.

I've been in a choir for a total of 34 years and sung to many varieties of instrument - as someone who was used to singing along with an organ, it was very difficult to make the change to a guitar and it took a lot of practice. The change to orchestra is equally confusing after rehearsing with a piano for 3 months.

Certainly in the UK, it's a vicious circle - there is a finite number of church organists available and they're hard to find and keep, so fewer churches are using organ music, choosing to have a guitar group or similar. Because of this, people are not learning to play the church organ, but instead are playing guitars and electric keyboards - none of which can be even vaguely described as a church organ. In London, the swirling, heaving Metropolis, you'd expect there to be more than three people offering organ lessons... The Incorporated Association of Organists lists 6,000 members but not all of them are organists. Divide that by the 16,000 Anglican churches, then they don't go far. They go even less far if you add in all the other denominations.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Backing Music for church choirs
From: GUEST,JohnB
Date: 31 Jan 08 - 10:52 AM

I suppose you have Electronic Bells in the Bell Tower too.
This is actualy a great opportunity, all mudcatters could record their parts at home on their computers, email them to the church choir director, then nobody needs to go to church at all.
JohnB


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Backing Music for church choirs
From: PoppaGator
Date: 01 Feb 08 - 12:49 PM

refresh

This discussion is worth continuing, I think. We'll see if anyone else chimes in.

This is really a quandry, if the congregation is truly so small that no member can play an instrument and help lead the singing.

It's difficult enough to get people to participate in group singing (especially in a non-alcoholic, Sunday-morning environment, heh heh) ~ if you have to make the attempt without instrumental accompaniment of any kind, it's just about impossible. So, while recorded backing tracks should be regarded as a "last resort," canned music is probably better than nothing at all.

On the other hand, if anyone at all can provide even the most rudimentary chordal backing on a guitar or (preferably) any kind of keyboard, they should certainly be encouraged to do so.

If no one in the congregation can fill the role, try to find an "outsider." As suggested above, young music students should be seen as a talent pool. With luck, a youngster who starts out with minimal qualifications and abilities might remain available for years, and improve as time goes on.

I assume that the departing organist was paid some kind of fee. Whoever might be persuaded to assume the same duties should certainly be offered remuneration as well. Even if only a small amount of money is available, making the offer might unearth a candidate or two.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Backing Music for church choirs
From: wysiwyg
Date: 16 Feb 08 - 09:48 AM

As has happened very occasionally, I was asked a few weeks ago if I could "fill in" for the organist tomorrow AM. Seems both she and the choir director will be out of town, along with the director's spouse who often fills in on piano for the organist.

Mindful of this thread, when the opportunity came I was ready for it. I said that I could do it if a few of the choir members still in town would come rehearse with us the night before, at our regular Saturday evening pre-service run-through. I waited to get to work, prepping, until I had their commitment.

Hope this may help someone else in future--

I decided to adopt the view that our acoustic way of working is every bit as good as their more classically-trained approach. Then I started choosing seasonally-appropriate music from the songbook I created a few years ago that has many selections, word for word, from the pew hymnal. With chordsheets for us acoustic players, in the keys WE like to use.

Our usual Saturday evening practice is to run through the 4-6 seasonally appropriate choices to find the 3 that are working best, and then do those pieces. So that's what we'll do tonight.

The choir members will come a half hour earlier than our regular time, to allow for nervous giggles, plenty of patience, and their warmup routine. I'll ask one of them to lead them in their warmup.

For tonight, I'll ask them to sit between my position and Hardi's, in the center as we always invite guest Sat.-nite musicians to sit. They can have their hymnals if the dotless approach is scary, and we'll work out which songs, keys, and intro's will make for a smooth songleading.

The thing is, THEY will be the songleaders tomorrow, not me. They will have to learn, tonight, how to rely on my bringing them in on time, to really lead the singing. Hardi and I do that all the time on Saturdays-- in rehearsal I'll abuse my voice enough to teach him a tune and when to come in singing strong. Then I drop off singing and he takes over. If he gets in trouble I come back in till he's securely on rhythm/pitch. The choir can surely do the same.

I'll be telling them about a GREAT singing experience I had a few years ago where people attending an overnight conference heard me playing for myself late one night, and trickled in to look over my shoulder to see what I was playing. It morphed easily into an hour-long singalong, with about 30 people gathered all around me, close. It was the first time I had ever been able to HEAR the people singing along when I songlead, and everyone rocked through songs they knew and songs they'd never heard, much of it black gospel well outside their own cultural idiom. I'll ask the choir to rehearse tonight in that mode, and then in the morning, if they want to put on vestments and sit in their choir pews up behind me, that's fine, or if they want to vest (or not) and stand gathered around my autoharp on the floor, that will be fine, too.

If they choose to sit in choir, I can aim my monitor up their way and maybe even place it in their midst if we have a chord long enough. I'll be to their ears on their right and Hardi, leading the service near the altar, will be on their left. Just like tonight, but with a little more distance.

The main thing is that THEY will be leading the congregation, which will be SO much more comfortable for the congregation than the last time I led, with microphone, by myself. To these dear ones in our parish, that looks and feels too much like the praise music they hate. It distracted from their worship, because they were juggling something new and different with worshipping, and thus it was not helpful to their worship. The goal of church music should always be to enhance the worship exeperience, not to make a splash artistically.


So the most important thing to come out of this rehearsal will be that the choir needs to be comfortable and relaxed enough to LEAD, and not collapse on their perception that I'm the strong songleader. I'll ask Hardi to make a few introductory remarks before the service begins, indicating to the congregation that it's going to be a lot like the annual choir picnic they love, and then we'll just DO IT.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Backing Music for church choirs
From: wysiwyg
Date: 16 Feb 08 - 09:51 AM

PS, our banjo player happens to be filling in at HIS other church tomorrow for THEIR organist, at a parish that has no choir. He's bringing in one of our band's usual non-church-music players to help him, so THEY're coming to rehearse tonight as well, an hour later.

Mega-rehearsal!

~S~


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