A spark to a flame

A big group of our youth went to Soul Survivor this summer, my eldest daughter included, and they had a ball! They all came back excited, passionate and full of ideas and songs we could use at EBC.

WkBC-Venues-BigTop-Header

We were able to watch a lot of the evening celebrations on God TV this year, which for us was also a fabulous experience…seeing and hearing what they were doing every night (from the comfort of our sofa with a nice cup of tea…so we’re not experiencing the Pot Noodles and damp camp site…) They want to put a youth band together to lead the songs they were using in the Big Top, have different ideas about services, stage setting, lighting and prayer. And its a great thing to see and hear.

But as I talked about some time ago, vision leaks. And so does excitement and passion.

We are just back from summer holidays (hence a complete lack of posting on my part), where we had no pulls on our time, no school, not as much work, a reduced service schedule. An opportunity to have family time, catch up on some things around the house, lazy mornings, movie evenings, too much food. But a chance to refill, refuel, rejuvenate and recharge ready for the return to school/work/church. And Soul Survivor did this for our young people…they came back overflowing with excitement, ideas, Spirit and passion.

But now we’re back, we’re two weeks into school and work, and holidays seem like a lifetime away. In fact at one point last week we felt more tired than we had before we’d been on holiday!

We as leaders, as parents, as part of the church need to nurture our youth. If they want to put a band together, introduce new songs into our services, produce creative ideas and input experiences and ways of working learnt at Soul Survivor, we need to encourage it. We need to make it happen!

Otherwise all of the passion, energy and Spirit will leak out of them before we get to Christmas. And just like the post holiday blues…a few weeks will go by and we will have settled into “normal” daily life…the holiday experience and refueling feeling like a distant memory as we count down the days until Friday/the weekend/the next holiday.

Like a spark to a flame, the potential is there for something big and fiery. But if it’s not nurtured, protected, handled properly, it will extinguish.

I don’t know how we’re going to do all of this. But I’m going to try. We will have a band with our youth. We will start to incorporate some of the songs they worshiped to (already have!). We are getting a plan in place as to how we can more frequently and strategically use our youth in services…not just on “special” Sundays. And I am sure that as we do this, they will push us, they will encourage us, they will supersede us and we can watch them grow amazingly.

Simplicity

The summer holidays are zooming by, and half of the things we had planned to do we haven’t done…oh well. As we’re actually properly away next week on a proper holiday, I’m trying to work through my “to do” before we run out of time…so Sunday planning, new song lists, rotas…all the fun stuff…

My eldest is off at Soul Survivor this week in Somerset along with the youth from EBC and about 9,000 other young people. I am most jealous not to be there, but a real bonus this year has been God TV broadcasting the evening celebrations, so we have been sharing in it (and she’s been texting us “you have to watch this talk, you have to listen to this song!” etc… Soul Survivor also blog their new song lists so we can take what has been sung in the big top and share it in our churches. And I was working through our autumn song lists today, so I thought I’d get ahead of everybody coming back next week “You have to do this, this is the greatest song ever, no really, it goes like this, you have to do it!” (and that’s just from our senior minister….)

Anyhow, I was listening to some of the songs they have been using, and I came across this gem from Rend Collective, Simplicity. And it got me thinking about where we’re at currently; at home, at work, and at church. Let me explain further…

Simplicity

This summer we undertook to redecorate and reflow our lounge. The reasons were twofold, 1. it really was looking a bit tired having survived 13 years and 3 children growing up, throwing up, potty training and the like. And 2. our middle daughter, Noo got diagnosed with being her allergic to dust, so the carpet had to go to alleviate her breathing. It was a major project, as we had to get everything out of the lounge in order to get the floor up, so the 13 years of books, CD’s, ornaments and toys had to be vacated before we could even think about shifting the furniture. Military planning was involved, the kids went off to the grandparents, and fortunately the weather was good enough that the furniture could live on the patio for a few days. And we did it, and it looks great…but we didn’t want to just put everything back in. So books have been passed on, toys have been downsized, all of the CD’s have gone into slipcases, the hifi has stayed but is in a sleek glass rack with new, smaller speakers and the TV is on the wall. We have simplified our cluttered lounge, and it feels a restful place to be again.

I have recently started my own business which in some respects is a big deal, and in others just feels like a natural progression. I work from home the majority of the time, I can set my own hours, I am trying as hard as I can to eliminate paper and to all intents and purposes, as long as I have my laptop and phone, I can work from anywhere, anywhen. No office, no staff, no files…simple.

And finally, church. We seem to struggle in the same way Spinal Tap did in retaining drummers…fortunately none of them have died in strange accidents, but again this term we are drummerless. Now I’ve tried to make sure this doesn’t affect our services, or our repertoire, but again listening to some of the recent Hillsong and Soul Survivor songs, they are very rhythm led, and there is a concern we won’t be able to be as contemporary without a full rhythm section. But you know, taking a step back, rearranging some of the songs and taking a different approach makes me think we can do this, if we approach it in a simple way. A good song is a good song whether it has five guitars and two drummers, or is led by one bloke on an acoustic.

Keep It Simple

We can cram our lives, our work, our services with things, and quite often nice and good things, but stripping out, making space, keeping things simple allows us to focus on what is important, whether its the space around us, the clients we work with or the God we worship. Of course I love having a drummer in the band (I love being the drummer in the band!), and the haze machines, jumping and moving lights are great! But God doesn’t need it, we don’t need to complicate things, and so this term we’re going to concentrate on simple and effective worship with some space to breathe, think and worship. Want to join me in our simplicity?

5 things learnt from our weekend

So we’re back from our church weekend away (long time back actually…just taken a while to recover…), and it was great…really great. The weather was incredibly kind, the infrastructure (marquees, generator, toilets and showers) worked really well, the shared aspect between the two churches was wonderful and we all had a great time together. This didn’t happen by accident, so I thought I’d post about some of what we learnt in the planning from our weekend away:Tents

  1. Prepare your music in advance: We were going to be in a field for four days, so unless we brought a photocopier, we would be stuck. And similarly, rather than bringing all of our music, I figured it would be easier to select a short list of songs and then prepare folders for the weekend. That way, if it got lost, it wouldn’t matter.
  2. Rota your band in advance: I already knew who was coming, and I knew how many sessions we needed to cover. What I didn’t know for sure was what songs and feel would be required and when…but I simply rota’d a general band lineup for each session based on who we had with us.
  3. Get all of your sound and light working in advance: The weekend officially started on the Friday evening with a celebration, but some of us were there from Thursday evening preparing the lights and sound. We brought our lighting system from EBC, FBC brought their PA, and between us we had a pretty good set up which worked well all weekend.
  4. Soundcheck: Now this was slightly different from a regular Sunday, as we were going to have several different bands for each session with no time between for soundcheck. What helped us was using the In Ear Monitoring system from FBC, so we were responsible for our own stage mix. Which meant the engineer was only responsible for the Front Of House sound. We did do a line check on the Friday afternoon to make sure all was working.
  5. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate: None of this would have been any use if we didn’t have a band. So the planning extended back weeks, confirming who was going to be there, confirming the songs (with the band and the church office), confirming what we were going to bring, confirming everyone’s responsibility and when over the weekend.
  6. All of the above (and much much more) meant generally the weekend went really smoothly. So much so that we’re already talking about plans for our next joint weekend in 2017.

And out of these things, what can we apply to our Sunday mornings?

  1. Prepare your music in advance.
  2. Rota your band in advance.
  3. Get all of your sound and light working in advance.
  4. Soundcheck.
  5. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate.

Simple really…

Now apologies for being offline for a week, point 6. should be “allow for recovery”….normal business has resumed and I shall be posting on Thursday… Have also been busy putting this together, my other job:

Try a Different Hat

This coming Sunday my good friend Colin is leading the band for our morning services. Now usually I take the opportunity to have a Sunday off and just “be” at church…something which is important to do, and something I encourage all of our musicians to do on a regular basis. But this Sunday (probably because of Easter holidays), we were really short on numbers so I became part of the band.hats

The songs were all familiar, (Indescribable, Happy Day, How Great is Our God, The Stand, Holy Spirit You are Welcome Here and Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)), and we had a nice little band line-up with drums, bass, guitar, keys and four of us sharing vocals duties (we were doubling up…there were only five of us in the band!).

I’m not saying I’m an accomplished player by any means, but I do know my way around a guitar, and this year especially am taking a bit more time to concentrate on different aspects of my playing. My musical background primarily was as a drummer and bass player, I kind of fell into playing guitar and leading by accident (probably wasn’t an accident…), so historically I always fiddled with the guitar but never approached it seriously. And these days, as I’m mostly leading the band on guitar, I concentrate 90% of my efforts on straight(ish) rhythm and remembering the words.

A time to Stretch

But for me this week, it was a great opportunity to stretch a bit as a guitarist. I didn’t have to lead the band, I wasn’t having to sing the tune to lead the congregation, I didn’t just have to play rhythm. My inner John Mayer could come out, I was able to play at the dusty end of the fretboard and employ much more of my pedalboard. We rocked! I didn’t even bring an acoustic to rehearsal, and I’m going full electric for Sunday!

Now I know this isn’t possible for everybody, that in some churches the band is the band, and there simply isn’t the space or opportunity to do anything other than lead/play bass/be the drummer. But where there is opportunity to play or contribute something different on a Sunday, I really encourage you to do so. We are fortunate to have several musicians in our team who can play different instruments, which we make full use of. Not only does it make putting the rotas together simpler, I also strongly believe (from my own experience) that having an understanding of different instruments makes you into a much more rounded player.

My background in drums and bass has meant my guitar playing is very rhythmic…possibly too much sometimes! And if you think of a band as a jigsaw puzzle, if you understand and or play some of the other instruments in the band, you will have a much better overview of how they fit together, and what your piece contributes. This week I was able to play the things I can’t think about when I’m leading…it’s a different challenge, and a different mindset from leading. But it was releasing, challenging, enjoyable and developed me further as a guitarist and musician.

Make an opportunity happen.

So try and make opportunities like this in your bands. If possible, don’t always lead, just be in the band. And if you’re usually “just in the band”, maybe you could lead some songs in a rehearsal and see it from the other side. Maybe you could sit in with the sound team to see what they do to make you sound great. Try a different hat. See what fits. It could all sound quite different.

Nothing New

So we’re almost in April, the clocks change this weekend, and summer is almost upon us. Hurrah! This means I have the enviable responsibility of creating new rotas for the Summer term, and also the opportunity to revise our song lists for another four months.music pile

Now this is something I have talked about before here as well as our song list, which is generally quite small but revised often. When I come to revise the list, I look at what we’ve done over the previous term, and I also collate ideas from others about songs they have heard, songs which will suit our church and songs which may be speaking to us as a congregation. I generally listen to a lot of music, and when there is a new release from Hillsong or Passion, I tend to get hold of it, partly for my own personal worship, but also for inspiration for new songs for our church.

I also read a lot of blogs, and scan the CCLI charts to see what is popular in case there is anything I’ve missed. So I had a look at the US CLLI list, and the top 10 included 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman, This is amazing grace by Phil Wickham and Jeremy Riddle, and Oceans from Hillsong. In fact, from the top 25 there were only four songs we didn’t have on our list.

Let’s do the Timewarp

What really surprised me was looking at the UK CCLI list. Sure enough, 10,000 Reasons was on there, as was Mighty to Save and How Great is our God. But generally it was all stuck in a bit of an 80’s timewarp. Sure, there were some great songs on there (which we still use also), such as Faithful One, Blessed Be Your Name and How Deep the Father’s Love. But there were also still such classics as Shine Jesus Shine, Be Still and Lord I Lift Your Name on High.

Now I’m not saying these are bad songs, I acknowledge we probably run a fairly progressive church in terms of our music and media, and I don’t have any issue with hymns and older songs if they are right for the service and/or context…we have both on our list and always will. And I know everyone has favourites…I am still the biggest Level 42 fan, and just this week have been revelling in the latest release from 70’s AOR rockers Toto! But what troubles me is that these lists seem to stay so static (I check them every term, and I worked with Kingsway UK on a project some years back)…when there is so much great music out there. I don’t advocate throwing everything out and starting from fresh, but I also don’t agree that we just stick with what we’ve always done. A change will do you good…

Church and Culture

I was at a conference last week on Church and Culture hosted by Mecklenburg Church, and something (among the many things) they did as a church was take their congregational songs and rework them into a more contemporary arrangement…yes, we were introduced to breakbeat worship. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t convinced…but then it probably isn’t supposed to appeal to me and my culture. And they didn’t do it every week, or for every song. The point is, they were doing something different to reach out to a completely new demographic. And we do the same in our own way, we use contemporary secular songs, we use media from today’s TV and films, we have a worship team…this blog is here to share all of those ideas with a wider audience.

If we haven’t updated the songs we use on a Sunday for 30, 40, 150 years…are we serving others, or are we just serving ourselves? Do we use Shine Jesus Shine because it’s the best song to worship to, or to illustrate a point…or is it just the leader’s favourite? If we as churches are never looking to change our music, our culture, our outreach, then we will continue to shrink and decline as we are seen as more and more irrelevant in today’s culture. And please don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to knock Graham Kendrick or dismiss the effect which one song can have on a person…

I spent most of January looking at “new“, and at the end of April we will have our new songlist for the summer. It will include some songs from the new Passion album, it will include the new old song I talked about here, it will also have hymns, old songs and classics. I just hope the next time the CCLI UK report is updated, it will see some of the same changes.

Step Away from the Microphone

We have a fabulous bass player in our team called Kat. She plays double bass rather wonderfully, and sings along as she plays…but she will not ever sing into a microphone. I’ve never actually heard her sing, but she is there to play bass and play bass only. And, I think it was on a conference we went to together, the phrase “step away from the microphone” arose, and has hung around ever since. Now this post is absolutely nothing to do with Kat’s singing (or lack of singing), and it’s not here to discourage anyone in their singing. Unless you’re our Senior minister…in which case, Chris, sorry, but yes, you must put the microphone away all together. (Chris will freely admit his singing ability is as good as my rugby knowledge. It’s really that bad. But we are praying for him.)

MicrophoneThis past Sunday at EBC we ended up with a slightly bigger band than usual, which was great. And we were continuing with our Follow series looking at the topic of Cost and what we need to give up to do something. Now among the songs I had chosen for the band was the song “Light of the World” by Tim Hughes, an oldy but goody which we don’t use as often, but which had the wonderful bridge “I’ll never know how much it cost, to see my sin upon that cross”.

When I was planning the rehearsal (you do plan your rehearsals, don’t you?), I thought it would be great to start the song on the chorus acapella. So we did, and it worked really, really well. I was fortunate to have a group of musicians who are able to harmonize without too much direction…in fact we even got an extra microphone out for our bass player (Graham this week) who wanted to sing some extra harmonies. We had a really good rehearsal, the music went very well, we had fun together, it was worshipful…it just worked. It just worked! So I was really looking forward to Sunday, I knew it was ready and should go well.

Sunday outcome

So come Sunday we did our services, and besides Light of the World we were also using One Thing Remains, Brian Doerksen’s The River and The King of Love. And I found that as we had a seven piece band (Cajon, Bass, two guitars, a violin and six of us singing), I was able to lead but hardly play, and I was able to Step Away from the Microphone. Now this may not be much of a revelation to some of you, and it is something I have written about, and have been working towards. But this Sunday I was able to actually do it without having to plan it too much…and it was so releasing for me, for the band, and I’m sure for the congregation too.

Karen (who was flitting between violin and vocals depending on the song) took the lead in some of the songs, the rest of the team handled either harmonies or male lead, and I just chipped in with some harmonies and the tune in certain parts. And it was the same with my guitar…especially as the songs didn’t require too much drive, I was able to sit back, strum, use some open chords and let the rest of the band carry the song.

The Fraction Principle

I have mentioned the fraction principle before, and it’s a post worth a revisit. But this Sunday we were really on it, each of us playing well within our limits and abilities, listening to each other and just being incredibly sympathetic to the songs.

Now that’s not to say we’re generally unsympathetic most Sundays and have a competition to see who’s the loudest/fastest/biggest show off (clue: it’s usually me….). But this week really stood out…and the feedback we got from the band (excited and slightly elated), the congregation (they noticed the difference!) and the leadership (we even got a small round of applause…!)…all went to illustrate how we had just eeked out a little something extra.

So please, try it. Rehearse your rehearsals. Use the fraction principle. Try something new. Step away from the microphone! And maybe something a bit wonderful may happen.

Turn it up!

Pretty much anyone who’s been in a band will have watched Spinal Tap, and I know from personal experience of rehearsing and gigging when I was younger, the situations, exploits and “band discussions” in the movie happened with surprising frequency in my bands (although I never had a drummer explode….so far) As Nigel Tufnel (Spinal Tap’s lead guitarist) explains here in this classic scene…all of his amps go to 11…

Now towards the end of last year at EBC we replaced our acoustic drum kit with an electric kit. It’s something we had held off of, partly as being a drummer myself, the sound and feel of an electric kit is nowhere near the same as an acoustic kit unless you spend a lot of money, something we couldn’t justify. But we were able to borrow a really good Roland V Drum kit from one of our members, so we thought we’d give it a go. And on the whole, it has made a huge difference.

  • Firstly, we have so much more space on stage, as it has a footprint at least half of what the acoustic drums had, and there is now no need for the large perspex screens we had around the kit.
  • This has also led to improved sight lines across the stage, as we can get the kit in a better position and again, no screens to peer through or over.
  • And the sound on stage has crucially changed immensely, whereas before we had to turn up the stage monitors to counterbalance the drums, now we can run everything at a much lower level. Which has also meant we on stage can now hear the congregation more clearly…they actually make some noise!

So far so good.

A little is enough?

But, and this is where the title of this post emanates from…everything has now got a little too quiet!

  • Whereas before the acoustic volume of the drums meant the PA had to be run at a certain level…now the level of the drums is dictated 100% by the soundman.
  • Where before if the drums weren’t going through the system (we did mike up our drum kit), you could still hear them over the system, now if the drums aren’t turned up enough by the soundman…they won’t be heard.
  • And similarly on stage, while we are able to have much quieter monitor mixes on stage…if we can’t hear the drums properly ourselves, then as a band we start to fall apart a bit…often the drums are driving the songs and creating the rhythmic glue which holds us together.

I’ve been to plenty of venues…not just churches…where volume is an issue to overcome. Just like the scene in Back To The Future where the teacher (Huey Lewis) stops the audition because “I’m afraid you’re just too darn loud”…limiting volumes is a hurdle to overcome especially when you have an acoustic kit, plenty of exuberant musicians and a large PA. But working out how to persuade the mix needs to be louder…is a different problem altogether, and something we are surprisingly struggling with.

We’ve done plenty of training in the practicalities of sound, so all of our team know how to operate the desk, where to plug things in, how to eliminate feedback, phantom power, DI boxes etc. And we’ve done training in how to mix, practical EQ, balancing the band, lead musicians and instruments. Everyone knows when to turn up, what their responsibilities are as a team, how to get the monitors set during soundcheck and how to problem solve during a service. All bases covered.

Subjectivity

But we’re finding more and more the actual overall level during a service is so subjective it is really difficult to teach. Everyone has their own mixing style and preference, which is fine within certain parameters. But how do you dictate what is deemed too quiet? How do you justify the drums are too quiet, when the sound man thinks they’re great? And when it is too quiet in the front of house, just as if it is too loud, you start to run into problems, as the congregation doesn’t engage, the mix sounds weak and without depth, and (based on the songs we sing), losing the drums often means we lose the drive from the band.

I’ll be honest, it’s not a problem I was ever expecting (having been on the wrong end of many comments as a drummer over the years) and I don’t yet have a definitive solution as it is so subjective…what I deem too quiet, others deem about right, when I think there’s not enough drums or bass…others think it’s nicely balanced for the lead vocals… What I am going to try is to employ a decibel meter, and then aim for a minimum level we have everything at. So I’ll keep you updated, and if you have any other ideas to counteract this interesting phenomenon…drop me a line, always interested in new ideas and discussion.

But in the mean time….Turn It Up!

How to Play Oceans on the Drums

This coming Sunday we have an all age service, which has been entirely organised by our young people. They’re also going to lead it, Amy, our wonderful youth worker is going to do the talk, they’re going to tell a story for the children, prayers, announcements…the lot! And my marvellous daughter Abi is joining me in the band. I know it’s going to be great.

They also chose the songs from our list, including Rend Collective’s My Lighthouse and their reworking of Be Thou My Vision (You are my vision) and of course, Oceans.

Now I’m sure a lot of you have already seen this clip doing the rounds last year…in fact this video has had over 1.2 million views, and it’s an edit of the original! But in case you haven’t…here it is again. I particularly love watching the leader…despite the hero drummer getting in as many notes as possible (and we’ve all done it at some point….) even the double kicks…she carries on with the song as if it’s completely normal. Maybe it is normal? Would love to go to some of their rehearsals and see what occurs…

The Fraction Principle

I did talk about The Fraction Principle some time ago…this isn’t an old Big Bang Theory episode, but is a useful lesson from the ever wise Brian Doerksen. The theory goes you temper your ability according to the number in the group…so if there are five of you (as there usually are in our Sunday band), you play to a 5th of your ability. Which is not to say you play badly, but that you are aware of not overplaying to give everybody else space.

Of course everybody has different levels of ability and competence, but as a principle it’s essential to avoid the lead guitarist drowning out the piano, all of the singers trying to leader over harmonise, or even the drummer taking the spotlight from the leader in Oceans… There should always be space to add…whether it’s vocal harmonies, guitar and key riffs or tasteful (not tasty) drum fills. But notice the use of the word space there…if you all try and do it at the same time, it potentially turns into a free jazz gig…not necessarily what all of the congregation were expecting…?

Always be listening

I know this is something I have to be aware of…having a drumming background and only in recent years having more of a band around me, my playing style has by experience and necessity been very rhythmic and driving…something which works on your own or with a small group of musicians…but when we have a band including drums, keys and bass…I can drop back a bit…not that I always do.

I remember someone incredibly famous, (so famous, I’ve forgotten their name…), saying “musicality is as much about knowing when not to play, as much as it is about knowing what to play”.

So remember, fractions, space and taste. And how not to play Oceans on the drums….

A New Old Song

Do you ever listen to albums, and find sometimes a big song will pass you by? I mean, there are always the catchy singles which pique your interest, and sometimes there are songs which touch you on a personal level (which no one else seems to get in the same way). But how about track number seven you maybe didn’t get to…or track number 9 which is sandwiched between the third single and the bonus track.

I listen to a lot of music, I can say partly because of my job at EBC hunting out creative ideas and songs for the worship band…but mainly because I just love listening to music all the time. Like all the time. I have big speakers on my home computer, little speakers on my office computer, an iPod dock in the car, DAB radio in the kitchen, bluetooth speaker for my iPad…I am generally always connected, and subsequently listen to a lot of music.

And from this I pick songs for Sunday, revise our song lists, find performance songs and videos and share some of the spoils here with you so you can do the same for your church. But I’ll hold my hand up and say I have missed some corking songs from albums I’ve had for a while. They may not have been obvious at the time, and sometimes they are rearranged or performed differently…which just adds some special sauce to an already great song.

Planning together

Today we met with our friends at FBC as we’re planning a joint service for the beginning of February. Rachael and I are going to lead the combined band, so we did what we did last time…compared song lists to see what matched, which songs both congregations would know. But I also thought it may be a good opportunity to do some new songs (and she also had a copy of their new song list so I could peek at what they were doing…FBC are currently revising their list just as we did…cutting it down to something more manageable). Rachael asked if I knew “Guardian” by Ben Cantelon, as they had recently introduced it and it had been really well received. I had to say no, never heard of it…but if you think its that good…lets do it!

So we completed our order of service, arranged rehearsal time and then went off to our next meetings. When I finally got home in the afternoon I typed “Guardian” into my iTunes search, and apart from the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack (great album, great movie), I got two further hits. Guardian from the New Wine Stand Together album, and Guardian (feat. Ben Cantelon) from the Worship Central album. 2013. I had it all along…in fact I’d had it for some 18 months, and yet it had slipped past me.

It Doesn’t Always Have to be New to be New…

So the point of this ramble, and to bring this blog back into line with my January theme of New is: Don’t always be in a rush to look out for a new song that you leave some good old ones behind. Don’t wait for the 2014 songs of the year list to be published before you revise your song list. Don’t be afraid to revisit those albums from 2009 which had a great song on it and 9 others you didn’t notice. Don’t even be cautious about introducing some classics from way back…a lot of hymns are timeless, and its apparent from a lot of live worship albums that these hymns (when contemporised and with an added chorus or bridge) are incredibly popular and just as impactive as they were 50,100, 150 years ago.

What New Old Song can you introduce this Spring term?

A New Wooden Box

So this Sunday I was delighted we had a couple of new band members, Yatrik and Anouch. I’m always keen to grow the team, and they did great. And aside from all I’m about to say, the church is always encouraged and happy to see new faces on the stage!

Not the most graceful of instruments to play...

Not the most graceful of instruments to play…

What was of most interest to me though was what Yatrik was playing. He’s a keyboard player, and a bit of a drummer (which I intend to make full use of at a later date), but he’d mentioned he had a Cajon he plays. And as this Sunday was a communion service (as are all of our second Sundays), I thought the Cajon would be a great addition to our more contemplative band lineup for the week. Now accepted that the Cajon is not the most graceful of instruments to play, and a lifetime of percussing on it will probably result in a really bad back. But the sound it produces is really superb, and we amplified it through our system but putting a bass drum mic in the sound hole at the back…instant sub bass along with some snare slaps from the wire at the top. We were delighted in rehearsal!

What’s That Box?

I had so much feedback from the congregation, as did Colin (who was leading) and Yatrik. “Where did the drums come from”?, “Was there a percussionist?”, “What was the box you were sitting on?”, “How does it work?”, “How do you spell that?” and so on. It was amazing the effect having a different instrument on stage had to the congregation.

We didn’t do anything else drastically different, the band lineup was keys, bass and four vocals (some great harmonies as well), and the song selection was from our usual list…nothing “new” there. But the impact from making as small a change as having a Cajon in the band made a significant difference to those who were listening/singing/worshipping.

So this January, as we continue to look at goals and new things for the year, why don’t you try something different in your music team? You may not have someone talented enough to play a wooden box, but maybe you could have an all acoustic week, or an all electric week? Try something more hymnal with some harmonies, or if you regularly have a choir, put in a contemporary song. Guitarists, try a higher capo or different pedal. Bass players, experiment higher or lower on the neck. Drummers, buy a Cajon, use a shaker, change your set up. Don’t play!

A Change Will Do You Good

Change is always good, and as I’ve discussed before, we revise our song list every term, use different band lineups every week and mix up the different sorts of media, drama and interactions which we use in our services. But all of theses changes are subtle and none too drastic…in order to keep the congregation with us.

So this Sunday, why don’t you try something new? See what a difference just a small change could make to your services.

I want to add that Anouch had a great voice, which received plenty of great comments as well!