Models of Music-making #2

by Frances Novillo
Posted at 14:26pm on 13th January 2018

If your church can’t find a musician to lead music at Sunday worship, you’re not alone.  Each church musician can only be in one place at one time, and many of us are committed to particular parishes every Sunday.  However, some of us have time during the week to help other churches improve their music-making, providing they’re willing to move away from a conventional model to explore something new.  So you could host a music mission week, during which a visiting musician attends all the regular church activities (Youth Club, mid-week Eucharist, PCC, Mothers’ Union, SVP - whatever their usual agendas) and there teaches a new song or two - the same new songs with every small group - identifying good singers there who could lead those songs at Sunday worship.  If you don’t have a church organist or band on Sundays, ask a choir director from another church or local community choir to help you learn confident unaccompanied singing during the week.  Don’t necessarily call these sessions ‘rehearsals’ nor limit them to participants who think of themselves as 'choristers’ or 'vocalists’.  If yours is a church with thriving prayer groups, make these mid-week sessions 'Singing our Prayer’ evenings; if your congregants have strong opinions about music, hold a mid-week 'Songs of Praise’ service at which each presents a hymn and tells a story about why it’s their favourite before the lead musician gets everyone singing it in a way which could be replicated on Sunday when the musician isn’t there.  It can be tempting when the musician is around mid-week to get them to play the organ or piano or sing loudly so everyone can depend on their voice, but it’s more helpful for a mid-week musician to teach good singers from the church how to get the singing going then stand back to allow the congregation to hear and value its own sound so they’re prepared to sing without a lead musician on Sunday.  In fact, accessing musical leadership mid-week and 'going it alone’ on Sundays can be a more sustainable model of church music-making as it helps congregants discover musical skills and try out musical leadership by themselves rather than depending on a Director of Music or Worship Pastor who may stay a while, then move on. It helps identify and develop local musical talent.  

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