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The Hell of Worship - pitfalls of church music

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Cappuccino 18 Aug 02 - 03:22 AM
DMcG 18 Aug 02 - 05:25 AM
Peter K (Fionn) 18 Aug 02 - 05:25 AM
Hippie Chick 18 Aug 02 - 07:24 AM
Mary in Kentucky 18 Aug 02 - 07:39 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 18 Aug 02 - 08:31 AM
Jeanie 18 Aug 02 - 09:32 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 18 Aug 02 - 09:58 AM
Cappuccino 18 Aug 02 - 11:56 AM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 18 Aug 02 - 12:07 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 18 Aug 02 - 12:22 PM
Cappuccino 19 Aug 02 - 02:51 AM
GUEST,guest 19 Aug 02 - 07:25 AM
Mr Happy 19 Aug 02 - 07:38 AM
InOBU 19 Aug 02 - 08:04 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 19 Aug 02 - 08:39 AM
sian, west wales 20 Aug 02 - 05:40 AM
Celtic Soul 20 Aug 02 - 12:29 PM
Kim C 20 Aug 02 - 01:34 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 20 Aug 02 - 02:03 PM
wysiwyg 07 Jun 04 - 01:04 PM
wysiwyg 07 Jun 04 - 01:37 PM
wysiwyg 07 Jun 04 - 01:45 PM
wysiwyg 07 Jun 04 - 03:00 PM
GUEST,MMario 07 Jun 04 - 03:02 PM
wysiwyg 07 Jun 04 - 03:09 PM
wysiwyg 07 Jun 04 - 06:54 PM
Dave Bryant 08 Jun 04 - 07:46 AM
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Subject: The Hell of Worship
From: Cappuccino
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 03:22 AM

It occurs to me that many of our Mudcat friends don't have to play church services or worship events, so you might enjoy knowing of the pitfalls awaiting those of us who do...

It's 8.00 am on Sunday, and I'm laughing helplessly at an e-mail from Mudcatter Jeannie, who plays her church this morning, and has come up against a typical problem.

For most of us, a normal show is a case of preparing material, rehearsing it, and doing it. Maybe the odd improvisation to suit circumstances, but no more.

Jeannie's typical experience is this - having spent two weeks selecting the right material, rehearsing it, getting all the links done, and so on, she is told at the very last moment by her minister that, without any consultation with the music group, he has decided to change the entire order of the service... with a couple of hours to go, her entire programme is shot to pieces!

This is by no means unusual, and Jeannie has just told me of a simliar case in one of those Spirit-led churches (where anything can happen, depending on the mood of the moment) where apparently the worship band came to the end of its rehearsed numbers, and somebody stood up and said 'I think God is telling us to spend the next hour in singing'... to the utter consternation of the band!

I've had this happen myself - some loony stands up and says 'I think God is telling me to sing 'X'', and launches into some incredibly complex song, expecting the band to sound like a note-perfect orchestra behind him.

And I myself have to play an old folks' service this afternoon, which has its own hazards. Not the least of which is an organiser who has actually been known to lead the congregation into the first song while we're still getting our guitars out of their cases!

If you've never played a church service, believe me... it can be a sight more testing on your patience than playing any other kind of show!

Happy Sunday, folks.

- Ian B

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Subject: RE: BS: The Hell of Worship
From: DMcG
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 05:25 AM

Been there, done that! One minister we had not only introduced changes like that, he decided he would go walkabout during the service (we're told about 2 mins before the service starts) and he wants to to sing something of the right length to match his tour - but he doesn't know how long it will take.

Now we know why the churches are so keen on miracles!

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Subject: RE: BS: The Hell of Worship
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 05:25 AM

Ian B, you say "...some loony stands up...." But I'm not sure worshippers can plead insanity.

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Subject: RE: BS: The Hell of Worship
From: Hippie Chick
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 07:24 AM preferred service has spontaneous singing and the guitar or piano player follows the song request, rather than planning a schedule ahead of time. It works out quite well.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Hell of Worship
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 07:39 AM

I once played the piano at a Southern Baptist all-student mission church (very small, but highly educated, mostly Southerners) and they liked to have "request" Sunday. There were hymns I had never heard of! My signal to the song leader was to play the entire hymn all the way through for an introduction if I had never heard it before. I remember one time after I played it through she started the singing twice as fast as I had played it. Then there were the long pauses in some hymns that caught me totally off guard.

Similar to this, I found that because I could play the piano, often I would be invited to "events" and then asked to either play background music (with someone constantly talking to me) or "how 'bout a few Christmas Carols." I'm not good without sheet music, and I found that many impromtu places don't have decent lighting!

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Subject: RE: BS: The Hell of Worship
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 08:31 AM

Hi, Ian:

As you know, my experience in black Baptist churches is very different than the ones you so often have over your way. There is a place in black churches for sponteneity that I find very uplifting. I sing in a male chorus, and we sing without sheet music. We have practice before we sing in church, but we all understand that as the service unfolds, our Director, Dan may be moved to have us do a song that we haven't rehearsed or sung in a long time. Dan sees the music as an enrichment of the messsage of the sermon, not as a performance. As he says, if you aren't up there singing to bring a messsage to the congregation, your shouldn't be up there at all. After all, we sing at a worship service, and we are there to make the worship more meaningful. That's a different setting than doing a concert. The guys in the Chorus feel the same way (if they don't they don't stick around too long.) So, all of us who do leads know that we have to be prepared to step to the mike and sing when we hear the piano introduction, whether we've sung the song recently, or not. Same with everyone else in the chorus, who is expected to remember the words and what the harmony lines are. We take pride in ebing able to launch into a song that we haven't done in a long time, and nail it. And we usually do. When we end up doing a song we haven't sung in a long time, it's always clear how the message of the song reinforces the message of the sermon.

There's a looseness and sponteneity in black churches that I really love. I suspect you would get into the Spirit and love it too, Ian. Come one over some time and give it a try. One memorable night when my group was asked to sing, the Pastor got up very informally, before the program, and started singing. Everyone encouraged me to get up and back him on electric guitar along with three other musicians from the Parish. This was at a House of Worship church, which plays New Orleans style gospel, led by trombone bands. I don't have much of a gift for "jamming" in folk or gospel and really didn't want to get up there. Our "band" consisted of a 13 or 14 year old boy on drums, another boy on trombone and an eighty year old woman on piano. And me. The Minister would start singing the song, and then we'd all wuickly have to hear what key it was in and start accompanying him. I found it much easier than I'd expect to pick out the chord progressions and rhythms, even to songs I didn't know. By the third stanza, I was able to pick a melody lead on many of the songs. I had a great, great time and so did everyone else. We may not have sounded as good as if we'd practised, but we were full of the Spirit and just had a good time.

There are situations where trying to play a song without rehearsal can surely be Hell, Ian. And I know that you've had many of them. But, there are situations where impromptu music can be an enormous amount of fun. I don't have the ability to "jam" in folk music, but having some of the experiences I've had in black churches, I've come to know how much fun it can be, in the right situation.

I hope you don't mind me offering a different perspective, Ian. I don't refute what you and others are saying. I've had difficult experiences, too. Just had some fine ones, where I had to be on my feet musically, in a way that my limited ability to improvise made very challenging. And had a good time. :-)


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Subject: RE: BS: The Hell of Worship
From: Jeanie
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 09:32 AM

Well... having been quoted at the beginning of this thread, I thought I'd better report on how things went this morning !

The themed set of songs/prayer/quotes went out the window (I can use them another time )- we did use some of the songs we'd rehearsed, plus added a couple of others. There was one quieter, Celtic-type song I had really hoped to do, and I stuck with - very glad, because a lady came up afterwards and thanked me for choosing it. She said it had helped to answer a question in her mind, and she said "I hope we can sing that one more often" - and we got a good response all round - certainly have to think on your feet, though. It's very, very interesting watching congregations from the front !

So, DMcG, you think you have troubles with your minister merely "going walkabouts" of indeterminate length. This is what our man did this morning - and we didn't know he was doing this until the service had started and "all became revealed" - At various points in the service he went behind a screen and changed into different costumes - on one occasion he emerged wearing pyjamas and a glengarry hat and wielding an umbrella aloft - and we played and/or said meaningful spiritual things, or just anything really, until he was ready... which in some cases took him some time.

I've often thought that the best preparation for just about anything is to have done *panto* - the experience certainly served me in good stead today. You will have gathered that this is not a Hymns-Ancient-and-Modern Anglican establishment !

- jeanie

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Subject: RE: BS: The Hell of Worship
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 09:58 AM

Hi, Jeanie:

Sounds to me like you had a good time and kept your sense of humor. One thing that is clear: when we say "churches" it's like saying "people" or "Senior Citizens." I've never been in a church service like the one that you described, just as you probably never "jammed" with a 14 year old kid playing New Orleans style trombone, while an eighty year old woman played barrelhouse piano gospel. I also was glad to read that one of the songs you did answered a question in a woman's mind, and sent her home changed at least a little from the woman she was when she came. For me, the message is the reason why I sing.

Back when I was going to a very staid, Scandinavian Lutheran Church, we did a production of Benjamin Britten's Noeys Flood. Our Pastor and his wife came hopping down the aisle in bunny suits as part of the parade of animals, and brought the house down! They're both on the portly side, and to see them abandon any pretense of propriety and come hopping down the isles had everyone cheering and laughing wildly!

Sometimes, the medium IS the message.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Hell of Worship
From: Cappuccino
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 11:56 AM

For some reason, there comes into my head a quote from one of Britain's most famous worship leaders - not quite relevant to this thread, but you might like it.

He was referring to the habit of Christian songwriters to use the phrase 'the Lord gave me a song...'

He said his heart sinks whenever he hears that phrase.

He said: 'when you hear the song, you usually know why the Lord was so quick to give it away!'

- Ian B

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Subject: RE: BS: The Hell of Worship
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 12:07 PM

I brought a few members of my chorus to church this morning for the first time, and lo, here is this thread! I have to say we were given completely free reign to choose the music we presented, we were not in charge of accompanying or choosing the hymns, and we were very well received. It was amazing how well our selections went with the theme, which was Joseph and his coat of many colors and Peter walking on water, and finding hope in the face of despair.
We sang:
De colores
Down to the river to pray
Even though the day be laden (by Jill Sutherland, of the Northumbrian Community)
The love your deepest heart desires (a round by Dorothy Attneave)

What did y'all play/sing?

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Subject: RE: BS: The Hell of Worship
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 12:22 PM

Hi, Ian:

No one knows what is in someone else's heart. What may strike me as hypocrisy or egotism in someone else, may be a sincere expression of their faith. As I have been moved by the Lord to sing a particular song that I hadn't intended to do, I'd hate to make a blanket statement that when someone else says that the Spirit has moved them to do a song that they are just acting out of their own ego.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Hell of Worship
From: Cappuccino
Date: 19 Aug 02 - 02:51 AM

As we've said before, Jerry, not only is there a great difference between our two countries' churches, there is a great difference between our two countries' sense of humour.

- Ian

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Subject: RE: BS: The Hell of Worship
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 19 Aug 02 - 07:25 AM

Somebody noted that music in a worship context is different from the concert -- less performer-focussed, ego-driven. I come from a church with a very elaborate ceremonial, and I found that performing there -- putting up with being both up in front and unimportant at the same time -- did me some spiritual good. I felt I had to give up performing there for a time precisely because I was collecting too many compliments, too many good strokes. Bad for the liturgy, bad for the community, ultimately bad for me, even if it felt good. That said, there's nothing unusual about the carnival of egotism a church service produces. May even have a certain charm to it, the way it reflects human foibles, silliness. Laugh at the lack of appreciation for one's art, then at one's own vanity, then at taking the whole thing so damn seriously.

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Subject: RE: BS: The Hell of Worship
From: Mr Happy
Date: 19 Aug 02 - 07:38 AM

i'm not a religious person, but because of friends who are i sometimes have attended services,masses,christenings,weddings,funerals,1st communion of kids,nativities etc.

what tickles me sometimes is in churches with a pipe organ leading the hymns, if you're near the back of the church, the first few rows of congregation can be singing the second verse while the back pews are still on the fist verse or chorus! laff wot!

also why do they always seem to pick keys no one can sing in comfortably? all the blokes are down in the cellar and the girls all screeching on the top notes! holy moly!

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Subject: RE: BS: The Hell of Worship
From: InOBU
Date: 19 Aug 02 - 08:04 AM

Here is your old pal, playing the Uillian Pipes for the wedding of a friend who's family is from Dingle and who is going to wed one of the George Walker Bush Walkers (a really lovely and progressive girl, I must add...) Well, as there is the Dingle conection, I set up about a half hour of pre mass music, as folks sit down, avoiding the Coolin, as the family wants the coolin as part of the mass. So, I am playing airs, rather than jigs and reels, of course, so as to keep the feel of the morning. The day comes, every one is in the curch and I go through the whole bit, Dingle Bay, all the Dingle songs... Hmmmm, I think, could I be playing to fast, no bride! So I start on O'Carolin airs... avoiding the ones that are not in keeping, like his farewell to music... what's up? This is the longest half hour I have ever lived! All the O'Carolin is played, I am tring to think of non-political airs non-death and missery airs, my fingers are getting tired from the nerves of trying to think of new tunes while playing the one I am playing... well, turns out the bride was an hour and a half late. Cheers Larry

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Subject: RE: BS: The Hell of Worship
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 19 Aug 02 - 08:39 AM

Churches are like supermarkets, parking lots, baseball games, cricket games... you name it. They let people in. The minute you let people in to anything, you get it all... there are plenty of ignorant, puffed up fools in all of the above. And good people, too. I'd be hard pressed to measure percentages of each in any setting. I go to a baseball game primarily to watch what's happening on the field, but I also watch the people sitting around me... family groups where the father is proudly bringing his son to his first game (with plenty of trips to the refreshment stand,) loud-mouths who think they are brilliant, a young couple enjoying each other as much as the game, old-timers like me... But, my attention is mostly focused on the field. Same with church. If I want to observe what fools we all can be,I can just sleep late and go down to the Mall when it opens. :-)


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Subject: RE: BS: The Hell of Worship
From: sian, west wales
Date: 20 Aug 02 - 05:40 AM

I guess I agree with previous comments about the difference between a service and a set-piece performance. Being from a theatre background, I always used to get a lot of satisfaction out of 'crafting' an evening for my church ... and would have been more than a little irked if the minister had unilaterally decided to change it at the last minute. Can't recall it ever happening to me; the minister was always an integral part of our creative 'team' so understood our performance goals. And these programmes were only laid on for 'special' services.

But, as for the more 'usual' service, so what if someone decides they want to stay on to sing? Or if the minister wants to throw in an extra hymn? I think the problem here is that it's taken for granted that they *must* have instrumental back-up. Not true. Sing acapella. Let the instrumentalists have a break. Or sit back and listen. Learn. Or join in the singing. I guess part of the problem is expectations on both sides: instrumentalists thinking they *must* lead the music, and singers not having the confidence to *go it alone*. (The latter not being an issue in Welsh chapels! Bet it isn't at Jerry's Joint either!)

I can think of a couple of things that might happen: either singers will develop a confidence in their ability as individuals to contribute or, if they know that they must accept responsibility for their suggestions, they'll weigh up the obligations before speaking.

And, no, I don't want to kill off spontaneity. If someone is so filled with the Spirit that they feel that X, Y or Z should be done, then, given that this happens within a Christian 'family', someone will always find a path through the thorns. Maybe an instrumentalist will be able to provide back-up, or someone in the congregation will sing along, or maybe even just stand beside the person for support. Heck. Who knows?

And, Mary, I think your comments about tempo are fascinating. (Ah, would that other congregations *speed up* hymns!) I like to read books on ethnomusicology (admittedly, at an "Idiots Guide to..." level) and tempo seems to be as essential an element of local culture as tonality and repetoire. Great stuff! I used to be part of the North American Welsh community and in our annual hymn-singing convocations there were hymns that we sang with nary a hair's difference from one year to another, despite that the 500 or 600 of us were scattered across the continent the rest of the time. It bound us as a community. Interestingly, although we thought we were upholding an 'old country' practice, the repetoire, harmonies and other style elements have actually moved on in Wales itself. We were preserving something from another age ...

Oh, oh. I think that's thread drift. Oops.

Anyway, interesting thread.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Hell of Worship
From: Celtic Soul
Date: 20 Aug 02 - 12:29 PM

Speaking of Church humor.

A friend of mine is a mail order Minister. He can officiate at weddings. The first such had him a little nervous. A performer all his life, he had never been the focus of something quite like this. And, he stutters. Singing seems not to be too bad for him, but in speaking roles, and especially when nervous, he does sometimes have a problem.

He was shaking nervous. And then, he said: "And who gives this man to be wed?"

It brought the house down. And it also ended his nerves. Nothing like a little levity in a serious moment to ease stress. The couple loved it.

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Subject: RE: BS: The Hell of Worship
From: Kim C
Date: 20 Aug 02 - 01:34 PM

I've never had any trouble at church services, but...

About 15 years ago, when my stepbrother was to be married, I was asked to play piano for the ceremony. They told me some of the songs they liked, said I could pick some others, and if I remember right, they loaned me a book of wedding-type tunes.

I had my program all figured out when, just days before the wedding, the mother of the bride called me and said, What were you planning to play? I just found out we aren't allowed to have secular music in the chapel.

I didn't have time to practice a completely new program. They got the church harper instead. I joined her on a couple of songs, but that was about it.

Somehow, I'm reminded of the old Windy Bagwell story about the snake-handling church. ;-)

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Subject: RE: BS: The Hell of Worship
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 20 Aug 02 - 02:03 PM

One thing I've found from my experience is that congregations are even more forgiving than folk audiences. After all, they're supposed to be forgiving. I've seen several experiences where musicians got completely lost and had to start a song over two or three times. A couple of years ago, my group did a song which was led by our tenor at that time. He was (and is) a great lead singer, but was used to just getting up to sing, with the church organist finding out what key he was singing in, and then joining in. This is a standard approach to singing in many black churches, so he'd been able to develop a reputation as a wonderful singer, without ever having to follow an accompaniement. With our group, that wasn't possible as we'd worked out harmonies and the guitar arrangement in a specific key and couldn't change that easily. When it was his lead, I played a long guitar introduction, with the melody picked out, and he confidently launched into a different key. We had to stop and try again, with members in the congregation calling out words of encouragement... "Take your time..." We tried to give our lead singer some help, and even softly sang the melody so he could hear it. When we launched into the song the second time, he once again confidently launched into a different key. Still more calls of "Take your time, brother.." You might think that the third time would have been the charm, but it wasn't. So, I just started chording in the key that he was singing in, and we shifted our harmonies on the spot as best we could. When we finished, people were very enthusiastic (not that we finished.) They could empathize with the spot that we were in, and wanted to show their appreciation that we persisted.

I've seen people get up and walk out of church because they were turned off by the Motown Revue performance some groups put on, but I've never seen anyone leave because someone messed up a song. :-)


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Subject: RE: The Hell of Worship - pitfalls of church music
From: wysiwyg
Date: 07 Jun 04 - 01:04 PM

Tantrums. From people in adult bodies.

Rehearsals can be real fun (not)..... We've had two different people storm out when the tantrum they threw in rehearsal was not received as they thought it should be. We're human, and we all have feelings we bring to the experience, but the band is there to minister to people coming to the service, primarily by the music we offer; we are NOT there for opportunities to act out, or for giving each other therapy.

The first time, it was a then-regular band member whose meds and family situation kinda boiled over. He first picked a fight with the Missus who was there watching the rehearsal. When we asked them to stop because people were about to arrive for the service, she was able to quiet herself, but he only escalated and then flounced out muttering dire upset. We just let him go. (Later he apologized after taking a break from the band for awhile, he's been able to participate positively most of the times he's come.)

That night, we decided as a band that behavior like that is simply not acceptable. So the second time this happened (it was one of many beginner players we've invited to sit in for rehearsal and/or the service), we saw it for what it was and didn't put up with it.

We have not had this problem with any other beginners, or any performing pro's who sit in when they visit us, either. Generally, people have appreciated the opportunity to learn something when they sit in, as we appreciate learning from them.

These experiences led to a lot of reflection among band members. For awhile we considered not being open to non-members sitting in. But we concluded that the problem wasn't with the sitting-in aspect. IMO it has more to do with maturity, and lacking a shared sense of why we are there.

Several months later, one of our regular members got mad about some news he heard during rehearsal, just before we were to leave to go do a set in a big community concert. We all kept our lips zipped as he blew up and then subsided, and he was able to get his feelings settled down. He soon apologized for the disruption.

Because of what we had learned from the two earlier experiences, the rest of us waited out the upset instead of jumping in on it to argue it or try to fix it. I was grateful the situation didn't escalate to the point that we had to decide whether he should be asked to skip that gig. The reason why it didn't was because he took responsibility for his upset and didn't push it off on us.

More recently, our old regular returned and was once again very much on the edge with med changes. That night it got a little dicey at times, not only musically but in his conversation with parishioners present. Frankly, some people got scared.

He had said, however, as he arrived, "I dunno if I should be here tonight." I looked him square in the eye and said, "Let's see how it goes and I'll let you know, OK?" He gratefully agreed. When he got out of line I asked him to settle down and he was able to.

The following week he had stabilized, and he asked me how bad it had been the week before. I was honest and he appreciated it. There was a general consensus that as his friend and as the band's director, I have last call on whether he's in shape to play or might be asked to sit in the pew and let us minister to him.

As a band, we do minister to one another, and we do share how our day has gone-- how major life situations are progressing, what we need from each other. But we don't hold each other up for ransom: "Treat me like THIS or I won't play or be nice." And once the rehearsal gets moving, we focus on the music and the spiritual experience.

Also, once the people start to arrive, out focus is on paying attention to them, not receiving their attention or being drawn into an extended, intense personal conversation.... we are also the greeters as people arrive, due to our being good at it and because we play from the place where they come in (no accident). So if we don't keep the right focus, the whole atmosphere is affected. Oh, I'm not saying people arriving don't inquire as to how we are, ourselves; but it's not a time when they should be met with a needy person longing to tell them the Whole Story of the week, nor is it appropriate for us to give all of our time and attention to a needy person longing to tell US the Whole Story of their week.

It's a fine line, leading this band with church members as volunteers. To a certain extent, I'm a volunteer too, but as the pastor's wife I face innumerable unarticulated (and often conflicting) expectations. It can be hard to know how to respond to these, especially when people want a more personal relationship (positive or negative) than are appropriate within pastoral boundaries. Sometimes it affects my willingness to volunteer, myself.

Over time, what I have learned is that people who can be responsible for themselves can go with the flow, and that people who can't, can't, and once they make that clear, they should not be expected to join our band. I have learned that to know this ahead of time, or to even try to please them, I would have to be a mindreader... that what they really want is help only Jesus can give them.... and that whatever shape I may be in on any given day, I ain't Him.

A decision we made most recently was to close rehearsals. Some people have been coming earlier and earlier before the service, so we've concluded that since there is no after-service fellowship hour, we'll designate a room for pre-service fellowship that needs to go beyond the 10-15 minutes immediately before the service when people visit pew-to-pew as they arrive and welcome one another. Because it isn't working for it to occur while we are trying to learn new material or work out arrangements, and there simply isn't any other time we can get together. We'll cover it in announcements at the upcoming service, hopefully as new good news-- not as "don't come early" news.


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Subject: RE: The Hell of Worship - pitfalls of church music
From: wysiwyg
Date: 07 Jun 04 - 01:37 PM

The Beginner in a Church Band

I offer our young friend Brian as an excellent role model.    He tunes his own instrument for himself, as the band is tuning, and he plays in keys he can play in or does his own transposing to use a capo if there are not multiple arrangements provided.

He has watched many rehearsals and it is evident that he has paid attention when he comes to sit in.

He listens well and follows the leader, and tries new material without taking rehearsal time to advertise his nervousness. He plays what he can play, and listens to the rest.

He saves major questions for another time and handles them privately and postitively. He acts like a mature musician who is yet a beginner in playing skills.

We are always happy to have Brian sit in. We don't treat him like he is doing us a favor, because he's there to offer his music to
the Lord, as we are, not for personal appreciation; he's responsible enough to know the difference between times when he can contribute and times when he needs to stay close and learn more.

What do YOU look for in people in YOUR band?


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Subject: RE: The Hell of Worship - pitfalls of church music
From: wysiwyg
Date: 07 Jun 04 - 01:45 PM

Songleading is so different from performing, too-- I'd love to hear Joe Offer's thoughts on what makes songleading unique.

(The material below is excerpted from orientation material in draft for potential new associate band members who live far but visit and play with us often.)

Leading Worship Music

I'm our group's overall band director, tho this doesn't mean I direct much in terms of how each player will do their part. I initially set the tempo and phrasing-- the feel of the song, since it will be actually SUNG.

We like it when individual players interpret a song for their instrument in their own way, in terms of ornamentation, once we have hit a groove on the rhythm and phrasing. Things morph in a good way; I don't impose the sound but let it emerge and listen for that.

Sometimes I will ask individuals to play certain instruments on certain pieces (fiddle vs banjo for example), knowing how that person will probably style it, but it's very flexible depending on who is present and what they brought.

Creative chaos, and I have veto, by general agreement.

I suppose come across as bossy if one is overly sensitive in areas of authority. What is more accurate, I think, is that this directiveness is mainly due to the lack of rehearsal time to futz around having a committe meeting, and the lack of time spent by others on learning new songs in advance-- we are all playing with the jukebox in MY head because I am the only one so far who has the time to review new music and do arrangements for everyone. I prefer to think of myself as willing to make a decision when one is needed, in a timely and clear fashion, but it comes from knowing the band well and knowing a song well because no one else has usually heard it until I sing it for them.... even if it's just enough singing from me to get the tune into Tom or Hardi's head if it is one they will songlead.


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Subject: church music, regarding song versions
From: wysiwyg
Date: 07 Jun 04 - 03:00 PM

.... continued from above.....

Sometimes multiple players have multiple versions of a song in their heads, and it's really funny (on a good day) when we all launch into a piece and it ain;t the same piece at all! Hardi thought I was nuts, for example, about the major-key sound of one item, till he finally heard an ancient recording of it done that way. He'd only heard it done minor. Of course I thought he was nuts too.

So..... to keep us out of hell, hopefully.....

Regarding Song Versions

We like to listen to as many versions and approaches as we can get samples for, and then let it become our own song in our own sound. This tends to depend on who brought the song to the group-- what they have in their head as they teach it.

We do not, repeat NOT, try to emulate any one singer or band. It's not about us, it's about the song being the song; we try to discover and allow its essential character to come through us, as a lyric and tune. Of course it's also about God, since we are mostly a gospel group.

So, for example, we are not Carter Family Re-Enactors, even when or especially when we do a piece they originated. But what we may have absorbed of their sound may come through somehow when we do black gospel! We DO replicate the go-for-it creativity of good bands, but we most definitely have our own sound, which we still cannot define, and which evolves as we hear new subgenres, new approaches, and new players. I guess our sound is best described as, "These fools will try anything." And we always prefer to try a new piece imperfectly, than to re-use anything we are tired of.

This is one reason our efforts have grown church attendance and gained new adult baptisms. We really mean "Come as you are" and we ourselves model it.


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Subject: RE: The Hell of Worship - pitfalls of church music
From: GUEST,MMario
Date: 07 Jun 04 - 03:02 PM

"These fools will try anything."

I can witness to that fact...

though I wouldn't have put it that way myself...

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Subject: RE: The Hell of Worship - pitfalls of church music
From: wysiwyg
Date: 07 Jun 04 - 03:09 PM



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Subject: Music Librarian, equipment
From: wysiwyg
Date: 07 Jun 04 - 06:54 PM

OK, enough of the people side of this for now--

MUSIC LIBRARY! I'm drowning in STUFF!!! "Thank you Susan but don't we ALSO have this song in the key of E flat?????" With some timely help from the church secretary, I just produced three fat matching binders of nursing home service material... one for each of us who goes off and does these, sometimes with other folks to play along. In the folder pockets, players' chordsheets and people's singalong leaflets for instant church, I think 10-12 sets, for up to 50 people and five band members, presto! To live in our cars. (You may be a musician if.....)


You don't think we haul our sound equipment in and out of the church every week I hope! So, WHO BROKE TOM'S AMP so we could not catch his vocal last Saturday night, and who twiddled all Hardi's knobs (ooops! too much imagery!) on HIS amp? The church didn't buy it-- it's all ours individually-- so now there's the question who pays to fix Tom's amp? (I say the church.) And WHERE is that missing microphone we need to resume recording the services????

Oh well...... I love you, too, Jesus.


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Subject: RE: The Hell of Worship - pitfalls of church music
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 08 Jun 04 - 07:46 AM

Some years ago, I used to be part of a small choral consort of which my (then) wife was musical director and sometimes the organist as well. One of our best sources of income was from wedding services, because many churches were unable supply a choir and these days the average english wedding congregation can't be bothered to join in with the hymns - in fact it was often only us and the minister who were to be heard in the prayers and responses etc.

At one rather posh do, the bride had indicated beforehand that she would "do the traditional thing" and keep the bridegroom waiting for a while. The organist on that occasion was a lovely old female battleaxe who my wife knew quite well. She played a fine selection of introductory music and we were aware that the bride's limo had arrived. We carried on waiting and still the bride had not appeared and the organist was getting very angry indeed.

Suddenly she stopped playing, climbed down from the organ loft, made her way out to the front of the church and we all heard her shout "Little Miss Muffet - I'm walking back into the church now, and I'm going to play 'The Entry of the Queen of Sheba' whether you're there or not". I've never seen a bridal party appear so suddenly !

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