Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Church gigs

Almost every church I have sang in is...interesting to sing in. Churches, like schools, appreciate music when it's done well, but often lack the means or understanding of it to make it happen well on a regular basis. Sometimes they stumble upon someone who knows what they're doing (as a singer, as a pianist, as a solo instrumentalist, etc)and they gratefully hand off the musical reins to that person, with no concern for how big an undertaking it might be to form a music ministry or how much experience that person might have administratively or musically.

(I'm mostly talking about small town churches...not the mega-churches that are down south or out in the midwest - they are a completely different story. Here in New England, there is no dearth of churches with populations of 100 or less on any given Sunday.)
It's also interesting because of the "audience." The congregation is often as uneducated in fine arts as the general public (parents and teachers) at a school. Many churches have gone the route of praise bands and community choruses...which - don't get me wrong - if done well, I really enjoy and find truly worshipful at times. I believe that can be just as frangrant an offering to God as other types of music. Some other churches believe that only hymns and songs from the Gaither time are worthy for God's ears. When churches are made up of people used to one type of music or the other, there tends to be a very suspicious attitude toward any other style...("that's the devil's influence") which I find at times amusing, at times intensely annoying and narrow-minded.

For example, Jon and I just left a church that was very traditional musically - all hymns, no 'crazy' instruments or praise choruses sung there. But, not all were opposed to it, they just weren't used to it. In fact, a year or so before we left, the pastor and I had been working on getting more a praise chorus worship team going.

Problem was, the only people with any sort of musical ability were my husband and I. We were also the only people there on a regular basis that didn't have gray hair. Besides Jeremiah.

So now, we are in a church that has a thriving praise team, who are very good...I very much enjoy listening to them and worshipping with them. The music director heard Jon and I singing one sunday (we sat near her at the organ) and now has me singing special music from time to time - which I think is great as it gives me more opportunities to perform. I do mostly classical music, since that's my training and she made the comment to me that she would love to have classical music every week, while making some sort of inference that the people at this church "need it."

What? Why would they "need" classical music? I got along quite well without it for most of my life...now I really appreciate it, but it is quite hard to do well, and that's the only way I like to listen to it. It doesn't seem to make sense to me that people unaccustomed to hearing classical music "need" to appreciate it, when there are many valid types of music out there...if done well.

What do you think? I am obviously not down on classical music (I sing it all the time), but wonder about classical musicians' judgmental attitude toward other musics at times. The church setting is a whole 'nother issue, and this is definitely not the most cohesive blog post I've put together...but maybe some food for thought? I know many musician friends who say the music at a church greatly affects their worship time (and I am one of them)...what say you?

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