Models of Music-making #1

by Frances Novillo
Posted at 14:24pm on 13th January 2018

There’s a church near me which can’t afford a music director, or rather, it hasn’t got the budget to pay someone enough to be around for every Sunday service plus all the hard work, diplomacy, admin (and music, of course!) in between.  But rather than giving up dejected, they got in touch with a Church Music Future adviser and now I’m co-ordinating a music mentoring project in the parish.  I take one band rehearsal a month, and bring in a guest leader to cover another, leaving the band to rehearse without a leader about once a fortnight and run themselves at Sunday services.  The musicians and singers (and clergy) speak up and say what they want - new songs, playing techniques, team-work ideas, prayer - and the leaders provide it.  The leaders also review what’s gone well since the last mentoring session, and what needs improvement.  We’re not imposing our ideas; we’re asking what the group wants and helping them achieve it.  Leaders receive a fixed fee per session, with a capped amount available to cover additional expenses.  Leaders are asked if they prefer not to claim the full fee, in which case, any money left is put towards inviting a guest leader who would usually expect a higher fee.  The band have learnt: new songs, Psalms, service music, playing and singing in parts, accompaniment, good vocal technique, introductions, running songs together in sets, selecting appropriate music for worship, recruiting and retaining new members, technology - from a wider range of experts than most churches experience in a year.  They’ve also bonded closely as a team depending on each other rather than on one regular leader.  They’ve realised the extent of their own giftedness and put all the ideas from rehearsals into practice at Sunday services to the benefit of the whole worshipping community. 

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