Thursday, October 27, 2011

6 Tips for Landing the Perfect Job in Music Ministry

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Because I have a full time job in industry, I never thought I would be able to land a job in Music Ministry this side of retirement.  I thought I would need to finish raising the family so that I would be able to pursue a degree in music.  But lo!  My dream has come true much earlier than I ever thought!  I now work part-time at a small church as the Music Minister, and am loving it!  What a great year its been!

For those of you still looking for a job in Music Ministry, I thought I would share a few tips that I believe helped me.  If you have been looking for some time now already, this is for you.  Warning: These tips are not the standard (e.g., find and review the "Wanted" ads every week, etc.).  Rather these are items to do above and beyond to set yourself apart.

1.  Prayer!  Is this the path God is calling you?  I have seen several outstanding musicians within Music Ministry that are focused on themselves.  They are in it for many things including attention and notoriety.  As I have noted in the past, this job is not a "me" job it is a "Him" job.  Hymns for Him!  See my earlier post on the Purpose of Music.

2. Leadership.  Music Ministers are leaders.  It is first and foremost working with people.  Volunteers.  Take a self assessment on your leadership desires and abilities.  See Worship Leader, Church Music Leadership Blog websites. If Catholic, consider joining the awesome network of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians.

3.  Volunteer.  This is another form of networking.  Get your name out.  Volunteering to help music ministries at several churches is a great way to get into the network.  Another great idea: volunteer once a month at one church frees you to volunteer and network at other churches.

4.  Start a Blog!  Having a blog enhances your image and skyrockets your credibility. 

5.  Publish.  Demonstrate your proficiency with music.  Compose! Publish! Publish your sheet music.  Again this enhances your credibility.  See this article (Attention Composers!) reviewing a great site to do this for free, HolyMeasures.com.  Once complete, be sure to link your compositions back on your blog. 

6.  Practice, practice, practice.  Multiple instrument competence. Most musicians excel at one instrument.  Few at two.  Make yourself stand out from the rest.

Let me know if any of these have been helpful to you in your search within Music Ministry.  Leave a comment and share your experiences with other musicians that are likely in the same situation.

Related Posts:
The Purpose of Music
Not to Us, O Lord
Attention Composers!


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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Our Most Embarrassing Moments...III

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I just couldn't resist!  Yep, the laughs just keep going.  I enjoyed pulling together the first couple posts on our most embarrassing moments in music ministry, that I just had to put another one together.  What a gift to be able to laugh at ourselves!  And what a greater gift is His forgiveness of our blunders!  Enjoy.

If you're like me, you will likely find these painfully familiar, especially the last one down below (ugh!).

Ring-a-doodle-do!
"The bass player at my last church accidentally left his phone on stage turned on with a chicken clucking as his ringtone. Well it started ringing during the sermon much to the pastor's surprise, and my friend's embarrassment!"

Breathtaking!
"At my small rural, traditional Methodist church we were doing a hymn sing service where I let the congregation request any hymn from the hymn book. Someone requested "How Great Thou Art". As they tend to enjoy this type service, they really get passionate and into the singing and so do I (and keep in mind we are really laid back and comfortable with each other on Sunday nights). So when we got to the end where you would put in the fermatas, I really held them out long.



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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Replacing Ye Olde Sound System

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Our current church sound system is old.  Real old.

I would venture that it was installed by my predecessor's predecessor's predecessor's predecessor's predecessor!  And it sounds old as well. 

From a music ministry perspective, the importance of a good sound system cannot be understated.  Even the best sounding music ministry can sound worse than AM radio with a poor system.  Our system easily falls into this latter category.  I've heard it.  During our practices, I always take the time to go into the pews and listen to how we sound.  How do we sound?  Honestly, our sound is comparable to the utterances of Charlie Brown's teacher, "wha-wha-wha-wha". 


But given this situation, I am very happy.  Why?  I have the full support of the church to replace the system.  Yes!  The need for a new sound system is fully recognized and appreciated by the church as well as the church council.  How many music ministries have this support?  What a treat!

Now, it has been up to me to answer the question: what do we want?  What should our new system be?  And how much will it cost?  These are not easy questions to answer.  Other music ministers often farm these questions out to a sound consultant company.  Our church is small and would prefer to avoid this extra expense.  I am also rather handy on the technical side of things, so welcomed this challenge.

I compiled the result of my investigations into a concise report.  I thought I would share this report since I am sure my church is not alone in the need of a new system.  Here below are just the first few pages.
 


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Friday, October 1, 2010

The Purpose of Music

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Last weekend I was invited to give a reflection on music at a teen and youth retreat from church.  I thought I would share the text with you in the hopes it benefits you and your music ministry.


I was recently asked to speak about my views on music.  I immediately thought, "Wow!  What an easy topic! There is so much to say!"  But then I thought, "Wow!  There is so much to say!"  How do I keep this to a reasonable time?  So I'll keep this focused to just the main point.  What is the main point?  

Of course, music is universal.  Each culture has a unique and distinct flavor.  It is an amazing array extending across the globe.  Within this vast spectrum is yet another spectrum of occasions and emotions each yielding to the variety.  It is an amazingly diverse and beautiful myriad of melodies continually streaming from humanity.  And yet within all of these varied tunes and multiple motivations for music,  


There is no higher purpose for music than for prayer.


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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Most Embarrassing Moments in Music Ministry II

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I just couldn't resist!  I enjoyed pulling together the first post on our most embarrassing moments in music ministry, that I just had to put another one together.  If you're like me, you will likely find these painfully familiar.  What a gift to be able to laugh at ourselves!  And what a greater gift is His forgiveness of our blunders!  Enjoy.

Phone Fumble

I had my phone ring right next to the microphone during a silent prayer. I was so embarrassed!
 -Janaki

More Phone Fumbles...

Here is the most recent done by our lead pastor.

Each week during the greeting, either brent or I say, "Please remember to turn off your cellphone or pagers." We have learned to say it many different creative ways. Sometimes I say "if it rings, hums, beeps or vibrates turn it off so you don't miss God."



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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Top 6 Free Tutorials on Mixing Sound

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One of the biggest issues I've seen in music ministry lies in operating the sound system and mixing board.  At many churches, there just aren't the people that are comfortable, much less knowledgeable of such technical things.

That is where this post should come in handy.
 
I've talked with numerous leaders in music ministry.  Together we have amassed the best tutorials and resources to explain the sound board and how to run it.

But before we get started, let's cover the first and biggest concern most folks have in this area.  Are you concerned that you are not a tech geek?  Don't be.  These are the simplest, easiest, and best resources I have been able to find on the web to date.  Oh, all these are also all free and freely available.



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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Top 4 Tips for Music Ministry Sound System Help

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Are you one of the music ministries struggling with your sound system, especially your mixing board?  You are not alone!  I've share some of my struggles in previous posts.  Just about every music ministry with a sound system has struggles!  Here are a few of the cries uttered:
  • "Who can we get to run the board?" 
  • "Why can't the congregation hear the singers?" 
  • And so on...
Over the years I've tried many things, monitored the results, and tried new things!  Here are my thoughts and recommendations.

1) Get Help: It's Out There 

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

History of Worship Ministry Sound

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If it is one area I find many small and medium-sized church music ministries struggle today, it is in the area of sound.  Not in talent.  Not in practice.  Not in faith, motivation, or worship.  It is in sound.  Why do I say that?

To answer this, I invite you to take a brief journey back in time.  We'll head back to a time before the sound systems existed and see what life was like.  Ready?  Let's rewind the clock more than an handful of decades.  OK, here we are back in the mid twentieth century and we find that the organ, piano, and choir dominate the church worship music scene.  As we walk into a church during this time we find that these instruments and choirs have no trouble filling even the biggest churches with beautiful, prayerful song and sound.  Note that these instruments had volume enough to fill even the biggest churches.



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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Is This Thing On? Tossing the Tap

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Most of us in music ministry use a simple technique to determine if the microphone and the sound system is ‘On’.  How many times have you seen someone tap on a microphone to see if it and the sound system are working?  It is a simple, quick test. 

But did you know that it could cause damage?

Depending upon the type of microphone it can shorten microphone life, cause quality problems, and promote fidelity loss.  Tapping on the microphone is like punching the internal, sensitive diaphragm.  Try this simple test.  Lift your typical tapping finger next to your ear, and tap the ear canal opening.  You can feel the painful thud deep in your ear.  I find this to be not so pleasant, and so do our microphones.  

So, what to do?  How do we safely test to see if the microphone and sound system are working?  Here is a simple tip.


Of course, it is best to check the microphone and sound system before service or during practice.  If this is the case see the previous post on “Testing1-2-3“.



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Monday, July 12, 2010

That Annoying and Embarrassing Feedback

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What music ministry hasn’t experienced that annoying thing called feedback?  By feedback, I mean the high pitched noise or low pitched hum that occasionally arises from a hyper-sensitive sound system.  It is annoying at best and in church it is distractingly embarrassing.  Where it comes from and what causes it  depend upon a number of factors, but the bottom line effect is the same, it is annoying!  What is the most frequent cause? 

In my experience, and likely yours, it is simple.  It is pointing the microphone in the wrong direction.



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Thursday, July 8, 2010

All Tuned Up? Tuning Tips

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As I mentioned in a previous article, "All Tuned Up?  Tuning Frequency" there are three ways that I know to tune an instrument.

  1. Tuned to itself.  Set one string as the pitch foundation, and tune the rest against it. 
  2. Tuned to another instrument.  All instruments are tuned according to one that is selected as the tune foundation.  This instrument is the one most trusted, or the one most difficult to tune. 
  3. Tuned to a tuner.  All instruments tune to a calibrated instrument. 
These are simple enough, but how does a multi-instument music group, tune when the piano is off-pitch?



Over time my poor piano drifts in pitch.  This is natural and is periodically resolved by a professional piano tuner.  However, it is in the few weeks before the piano tuner arrives (per the tuning schedule) to perform his trade where matters get sticky.



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Monday, July 5, 2010

Tom Booth Interview

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Today we have a very special guest to the Music Ministry Tips community!

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is an honor and a pleasure to introduce Tom Booth.

I will most certainly fall short in attempting to describe Tom.  He is an artist, a musician, a husband, a father, but above all, a man of God.  He has been nominated for two Unity Awards, for Rock Album of the Year, “Cry the Gospel” and he won for Rock Song of the Year for – “Taste of Heaven.”
 
I could go on and on, so I think I will!  Tom has now composed three Number 1 hits on the Contemporary Christian Music charts: “I Will Choose Christ” (composed with and recorded by Kathy Troccoli) which also received a Dove Award nomination from the Gospel Music Association, “Nothing is Beyond You written with friends Mitch McVicker and the incredible Rich Mullins (recorded by Amy Grant), and “Love Has a Name” (composed with and recorded by Kathy Troccoli).  He has written and performed songs for both Mother Teresa (including "Prayer of Abandonment") and Pope John Paul II.



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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Attention Composers! HolyMeasures.com Interviewed

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In an earlier post, I described the new website HolyMeasures.com for music ministry composers.  It is a site where we can upload our sheet music that can be viewed and shared with other churches around the world.  For us composers, it is a free process.  For those downloading, a token fee is charged, and part of it is passed on to us.

After viewing the site and uploading a song, I still had some questions about the site and the team behind it.  Recently I had a chance to interview the founders of the site, Matt Wessel and Bryan Paull. 


Interview
MusicMinistryTips: There are other sites where one can upload music, but what makes HolyMeasures.com unique?


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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Attention Composers! Review of HolyMeasures.com

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I am quite excited about this post!  This one is for all the part-time worship music composers out there in music ministry.  This is for those of us that don't have professional songwriting contracts.  This is for those of us that have composed popular praise and worship songs at our churches and would like to share our them with the rest of the world.


I recently came across an article describing the purpose and motivations behind a new website: HolyMeasures.com.  It is described as a "Place for Independent Religious and Spiritual Sheet Music"


It is a site where we can upload our sheet music that can be viewed and shared with other churches around the world.  For us composers, it is a free process.  For those downloading, a token fee is charged, and part of it is passed on to us.



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Friday, June 18, 2010

Not to Us, O Lord

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Today I thought I would throw out some food for thought as well as a bible verse pertaining to prayer before the first song is sung. Given all the effort that is instilled in music ministry such as song selection, setup in church, practice, and the inevitable last-minute-adjustments, the focus can easy become blurred. We may feel that the attention is on us.

Certainly, there is some attention that will be given to us. During live music, the congregation will naturally be curious about the music source. Without seeing the music group, it would feel eerily disembodied, wouldn’t it? In addition to this proverbial spotlight, in some churches there may be physical spotlights as well on the music group.

What are we to do with this attention? Redirect it.


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Friday, June 11, 2010

Our Most Embarrassing Moments...

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Although we'd like to think we'll be flawless in front of the microphone, Mr. Murphy's law inevitably catches up with us!

When it happens to me, I quickly remind myself what a loving and forgiving God we have!

What is your most embarrassing moment in Music Ministry?

I recently asked this question to a forum of music ministers and here are a few of the mortifying tales.

Paul's Pickle
But, first here is my most embarrassing moment.



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Friday, June 4, 2010

The Dreaded Mixing Board!

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"We can't hear any of the singers!"  "Um, I think I accidentally did something on the The Mixing Board."  At many small- and medium-sized churches these are perhaps some of the most feared words in Music Ministry.  Why?  It means that the dreaded mixer must be adjusted! 

This fear manifests itself in other seemingly innocuous ways.  Considering the churches I've played in the recent past, one music ministry has such a fear of the mixing board that no one is allowed to touch it.  A large sign is taped to the top pleading, "Do Not Touch!"  At another church, the mixer gathers dust in the darkness under lock and key.  It is never opened.  Early in its life it was cared for, calibrated and set by an "expert."  Now years later those settings are used for all the differing music groups from the choir to the contemporary band.  



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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Music Ministry in an "App"?

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Remember my earlier post about having affordable instruments in music ministry? It focused on mainly iPhone light percussion instruments "apps". It seems that in a short time, many other instruments are now available for a convenient price on the iPhone. Imagine a whole music ministry built upon iPhone instruments! This video blew me away!

Of course, this does not spell the end of the instrumentalist.  Note that the players are still picking "strings" and pressing "keys".  For a moment, one shakes his phone for an "egg" percussion sound.

The possibilities are amazing!  Could this be a vision to the future of music ministry on some level? 

Have you seen something similar?  Could this benefit your music ministry?

Related Posts
Holy Cowbell?!
Helpful Music Ministry Gadgets: Tuner App

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Playing Together: Dynamics Part II

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This post continues the Dynamics theme from an earlier post.

Have you been a part of a music ministry where every instrument played on and throughout every song?  Have you noticed that each song somehow seems to sound like the other?  I have been in several bands like this.  This seems to be a tendency of many bands. But, honestly, I must be the first to admit that I have also been guilty of this from time to time!

Sometimes we can become fully engrossed in our own instrument and performing the music piece, that we don’t, in a manner of speaking, ‘hear’ the full picture.  This is certainly often true of music ministry groups without a designated music leader, but can also be true of groups with music leaders that are singers or instrumentalists as well.



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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Welcome Sunday Musicians to Our New Home!

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We certainly agree with Shakespeare that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet!  Welcome to our rose with a new name!  Welcome to those that have been following us at Sunday Musician.  Welcome to our new home.  Welcome to Music Ministry Tips!

Although under a new name, as you can see it has  the same great look and feel. The same thoughtful authors, Paul Schmitt and Lisa B. are still here with our years of music ministry background and experience. We will continue to share our thoughts, tips, and recommendations. We hope you continue to share yours by adding comments to our posts.

Above all, our goal continues to be to build a blog community of musicians who love to worship Our Lord, Jesus Christ, every moment, but especially at church in Music Ministry.



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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

May God Bless the Leaders of Song!

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We fall under many labels.  We can be called Worship Leaders, Music Ministers, Youth Band Leader, Contemporary Band Leader, etc.  We lead the music in church.  We lead music ministry.  We lead the congregation in song and praise.

We have many jobs within our job.  Yes, we lead the music, but we also recruit musicians (always recruiting!), search songs, find songs, select songs, locate sheet music, learn and follow copyright law, arrange songs, organize very generous and dear volunteers, lead practice, foster musical teamwork, but above all we strive to motivate souls.





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Sunday, April 25, 2010

All Tuned Up? Tuning Frequency

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This is a fundamental subject for all music ministries, and is not one to be overlooked:

How often should we tune our instruments? 

Sometimes in the rush of setting up, organizing music, and practicing pieces this can go unnoticed and be forgotten even with the best of intentions.  How are we to “make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise”? Psalm 95:2

For us as church musicians, we might not see our instruments but once or twice a week.  For me I strive to tune my instruments every time I pick them up.  As we know a variety of factors can cause instruments to ‘drift’ from tune: temperature, humidity, string stretching, reed age and moisture.  Several of these factors can and will change from Sunday to Sunday resulting in pitch changes in our instruments.



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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Which Microphone Is Best for You?

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This post will be most helpful to the singers in music ministry and is a continuation of our series on "Getting to Know Your Microphone."

Ever notice that your voice sounds different when using different microphones?  One makes your voice muffled and flat while another, tinny.

Different mics response to your voice differently.  This is by design and is simply a reflection of the fact that there is no perfect mic for all occasions and uses.



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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Helpful Music Ministry Gadgets: Tuner App

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Again, let me begin this by saying that this church musician is not sponsored by any products or services.  If I see a product or service that seems to have great value for us in music ministry, then I genuinely mean it.

This one seems intuitively perfect for us.

I previously wrote about a light percussion program for popular smartphones.  This is another "app" for the iPhone.  That is Silicon Valley speak for another "program for a particular Apple smartphone called the iPhone."  It is called Cleartune Chromatic Tuner.  Yes, it simply turns a phone into a handy tuner.  Great idea, but how does it work?



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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Prayerful Song: The Gift of Confidence

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I am continuing a theme developed in some earlier posts about the importance of prayer before the first song is sung.  Gather the music group together in a circle and pray.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, it is an anxious time before that first song.  "What is that first song again?"  "Where is the music for it?"  "I’m not sure I practiced this tricky part enough."  It is important to refocus our attentions back onto what should be our main task: leading souls in prayerful song.  It is amazing what a simple prayer will do to help refocus the music ministry. 



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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Singing In Sync

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'N Sync?  No, this post is not about promoting American boybands in church! :)

It is all about tempo and its role in music ministry.  In an earlier post, I wrote about the importance of tempo in its job of keeping the music group together in sync.  In addition to this, tempo also plays an important role for the assembly or congregation.



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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Wedding Woes and "Din Dingers"

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I’ve written earlier about feedback, the high pitched noise or low pitched hum that occasionally arises from a hyper-sensitive sound system.  It inevitably and inconveniently arises its ugly head against us in music ministry who have a sound system, but no one overseeing it.  I’ve mentioned some ways to address possible feedback root causes and quick fixes, and here are a couple more, including a wedding story!



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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Song Selection in Music Ministry

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This is perhaps a post for the music ministry leaders.  How do you select songs for Sunday?  For many of us, the Service theme is selected for us and serves as a framework for the musical canvas.  Perhaps it is set by the readings for the day.  Perhaps it is set by the Pastor or Worship Team.  So, getting back to the blank canvas, how do you metaphorically select the brushes, paints, and painting style?  How do you select the perfect music?

Here is my thought process.

Intro or Opening.  I try to make this one upbeat.  After all, it is a joyful occasion that brings us here, no?  Since this is the opening song, the theme usually has not been set at this point.  So I’ll aim for themes such as Gathering, Community, God’s People, Coming to God’s Table, etc.



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Friday, April 9, 2010

Unfolding "Testing 1-2-3"

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This post is a continuation of our series on "Getting to Know Your Microphone."
.
Ever hear that in the old movies? “Testing 1-2-3, Testing 1-2-3”. Or maybe you’ve heard some sound guys saying that repeatedly into every single microphone they could find. Why did they do that?



Well, this can be very practical for us as church musicians since this simple little phrase, uttered into a live microphone will provide volumes of information on the sound system.   How?



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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tempo: Its Important Role in Music Ministry

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I would think most of us church musicians would know what tempo is, but what role would tempo play in supporting the art and beauty of worship and music ministry? 

Tempo has many jobs.  Perhaps the job most people think first is to keep the instruments and singers, in sync.  This can’t be understated.  How many church songs have you heard where the instruments and singers were not in line?  Often this is most apparent during intros, turn-arounds, tacets, and lengthy rests. 



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