Why do we sing?It seems like a funny question – in our churches, it’s just what we do, every Sunday morning.But really, why do we sing?Furthermore, what does our singing say about our view of God? How does it reflect our relationship with the Lord and with each other as believers? What is the importance of congregational singing?
Keith and Kristyn Getty, modern-day hymn-writers, have teamed up with an amazing list of speakers and musicians to answer these questions and more.If you’ve heard any of the Getty’s music, you probably know the wonderful depth it has both theologically and musically.This coming week in Nashville, more than 4,000 believers from over 16 countries will be gathering for the very first Getty Music Worship Conference: Sing!Now, however, you can join them through the free, live simulcast they are offering, September 18-20!RSVP now and receive a free songbook download with 25 of Keith and Kristyn’s songs.
I know this is a late notice, but I didn’t find out about it until yesterday and was unable to post anything until now. However, you can still get the entire conference on demand because they are also making available all 70 hours available by purchasing a LifeWay Digital Pass as an individual or with a group rate here.
So, what are you waiting for? While you’re there, check out the Getty’s new book titled “Sing!” (If you order through the link, you get a really great discount.)
88 Creative Keys is putting on the Essentials For The Worship Team Pianist Webinar on Monday, January 16th from 11am-1pm Eastern Standard Time.
The cost is $49 for this two-part, three hour online class taught by Leila Viss, Drew Collins and Bradley Sowash.
I have not taken their classes, but heard of this through James Koerts. 88 Creative Keys offer several webinars throughout the year on all sort of musical subjects such as chords, rhythm, teaching, improvising, etc.
In the first portion of the webinar, Drew and Leila will discuss:
The three roles of a worship team pianist.
The latest tech tools used by most worship teams.
Tips on how to build required skills.
What worship leaders expect of a pianist.
Common mistakes pianists make when playing with a band.
Five characteristics of a strong worship team pianist.
Some tricks of the trade.
In the next portion, Bradley will cover:
What to play when unrehearsed background music is needed.
Heighten your awareness of thinking and playing in musical layers.
More tips for pianists on feeling a groove.
Improvising and/or arranging a traditional hymn for contemporary worship.
For more details, and to sign up for this class go here.
I have found a helpful bit of advice on modern Self Centered Worship, from Australian worship leader, Darin Browne, at PraiseandWorshipLeader.com
This podcast explores self centered worship, and whether or not “I” songs have become the focus of modern worship music. They make the excellent points:
If we are going to worship, it must be centered on God. When modern songs fail to mention even one of His many names, it is hard to say if it is focused on the LORD, or a human fancy.
The “Formulas” vs. the Holy Spirit.
Choosing the right kind of songs for worship and choosing songs with purpose and looking at the meaning. Not using “throw away” songs. Time for music in worship is limited already. Every song should either point to God, or your response to God.
The call to worship.
Seeking God on every song you do. This is something that has been important to me, and I have personally seen this have a big impact in my worship.
Top five take aways:
Choose lyrics and songs carefully. Choose the right key. Check out the lyrics and melodies to be sure you are not singing “junk” music that is not accurate, or is difficult to sing. Just because they are doctrinally or scripturally correct, doesn’t mean they are great corporate worship songs! Don’t introduce more than one new song in a week. Learning new songs isn’t usually the focus of worship in song.
Ask why do you do the song you are doing. You need to have a valid reason for each song.
Avoid formulas. Three fast, two slow…two fast, three slow, or whatever it be, God will not fall off His throne if you do it different.
Middle songs should be about proclaiming God- i.e., He is Lord, Man of Sorrows, When I Survey
Finish on song that directly glorifies God. i.e. How Great Thou Art, Agnus Dei, How Great Is Our God.
While these folks are discussing this subject in terms of a modern worship music setting, the same can be said for much of so called traditional music in worship. If this is your form of worship, take a hard look at the music you choose as well. This phenomenon is not exclusive to CCM.
Jim’s vocal class was well received. In the first session, he had the most students!
For those of you, who haven’t had the pleasure of hearing him, he sings in a natural, easy style, that has really is a joy to listen to! A lot of people are preferring this over traditional classical operatic singing that typifies traditional church music. Jim showed that you can sing both praise and worship songs, and traditional solos, such as The Via Dolorosa, and not still project your voice, and add proper emotion and technique without sounding gaudy. One of Jim’s strengths which I believe added to this conference, is that he comes from a slightly less traditional background, having been a professional entertainer, and then later serving on the music ministry team at Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, CA. He now leads the music at a Messianic Jewish congregation in Irvine, CA., and he possesses the ability and sensitivity to balance the technique and style. He understands both sides and their proper uses and was able to communicate this through instruction and demonstration.
Jim did a lot of private lessons in addition to the group sessions that covered the basic techniques. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of photos from this class.
Everybody loves Mr. Fox! He is a blast to be around, and he knows his stuff! Don’t let his this serious look scare you away!
Too bad there isn’t a picture of the historical conducting devices which you would’ve seen had you been here, but I guess we will have to do this again, and you will have to come to his class, so you can learn not only the history, and beginning of conducting, but also learn some actual conducting skills (if you can between laughing!)
Really, Mr. Fox was another wonderful asset to this conference, bringing many years of teaching and believe it or not, actual conducting experience! 🙂 He is also very expressive, and his students always have a great time and burn calories laughing from the fun in the process!
Mr. Fox also had the difficult task of taking 46 of us, with varying degrees of ability and experience (some not even reading music), and led us in making actual music! It really was amazing that he was able to pull it off!
Each student at this conference was involved in either the chorale, or the accompaniment for the chorale.
In the short time we had together, we put together two anthems and a hymn, which were sung on Friday evening in addition to the individuals and groups that shared their gifts.
We had a number of string players which brought their instruments and did a fantastic job accompanying us, as well as Logan O. on the piano, under Mr. Fox’s fabulous direction.
Thank you to the Smith, Haymond, Osborn and Bisceglia family members who were willing to do a little extra and share your talents with us in the string ensemble!
Really, all of you should be congratulated on your perseverance and hard work on learning some brand new (to most of you) music in just two short days! You all did an incredible job!
On Friday afternoon, we held an instructor forum, with the combined experience of the professionals to answer your questions. As you can see, we aren’t always serious!
We solicited questions on Wednesday, and Thursday, and held the forum Friday.
Our purpose wasn’t to discuss the merits of Traditional vs. Contemporary, or to get into a divisive argument which doesn’t serve to help us worship. Instead, we deliberately steered the conversation toward things of practical value to any musician of any leaning, with the emphasis and encouragement of keeping a heart of true worship. We did seek to define what worship truly is, earlier in the week, and this discussion expounded on that somewhat.
The conference culminated on Friday evening, with a community evening of worship in song, led by the staff and conference attendees. Each of the students had the opportunity to put to use some of their new skills. All participated in one way or another. We had a chorale, special numbers, and community hymn-singing led and accompanied by the students and staff.
After we had sung the last song and acknowledged our incredible director, Mr. Fox, he said he had one more thing to do and handed me an envelope with donations he and Mrs. Lopez had collected so that I could go to the Pine Lake Composer’s Symposium in Atlanta, GA. Only Mrs. Lopez knew I wanted to go to this, and she “put a bug in someone’s ear” suggesting they do this.
I was so overwhelmed! We had just, by the grace of God, had the most wonderful conference, and then to top it off, the kind generosity of so many of the students, which allowed me to go and learn from the likes of Joe Martin, Mary McDonald, Brant Adams, Victor Jackson, Robert Sterling, and Brad Nix. THANK YOU ALL SOOOO MUCH!! it was an incredible “Composium” which I will write about in the next blog post, God willing.
All of you who attended made this a fantastic conference, which was better than I could’ve hoped for and all of you who didn’t make it, missed a great conference! Lord willing, we will do this again in the future.We have identified a number of areas that people are looking for further training in, and hope to be able add those as well. We are currently praying about what the LORD would have us to do. If you would join with us in this, we would greatly appreciate it!
On June 1-3, 2016, we held the very first Powerful Praise! Music Conference, at Opportunity Presbyterian Church, in Spokane Valley, WA!
Forty-six musicians and worship leaders from as far south as Southern California, and as far North, as North Dakota, showed up to learn how to improve their musicianship in order to make God’s praise glorious! It was an awe-inspiring time with representatives of several different denominations including Presbyterian, Baptist, United Methodist, Messianic, and Non-Denominational churches. I really appreciated the oneness in spirit that everyone had-we were here for the purpose of learning to bring our Lord and Savior praise through music, in the best possible ways, preparing our hearts, minds, and bodies (through excellent technique and practice), to bring Him the very best we can.
We had instruction in piano accompaniment, modulations, arranging, master classes, playing the message of the music, vocal techniques, singing with proper form, projection, mic techniques, conducting hymns for congregational singing, conducting choirs and ensembles, understanding your audience, understanding the difference between praising God and putting on a performance, a forum with the experts, and hands-on practice. This is only a partial list of the many, many things taught during this two-day conference.
Our instructors were Faye Lopez (piano accompaniment), Brian Fox (song leading and directing), and Jim White (Vocals). Mr. Tom Wylie was invaluable behind the scenes with technical aspects making things run smoothly, as well as Logan O., and the Shove, Pinkerton, Smith and Haymond families. And I can’t fail to mention the gourmet refreshments and service which were graciously provided by the John Smythe family! Thank you all for your servant’s heart and your gracious generosity in giving of time and resources to help out in making this a success!
This has been the culmination of a vision which has been such a joy to see come together! THANK YOU TO All who participated, helped get out the word, attended, gave of your time and resources, and made this conference happen. It would’ve been a lonely endeavor without you!
At the close of this two day conference, after the choir sang, and we acknowledged our amazing conductor, I was presented with an envelope of donations which they had collected unbeknownst to me, so that I could go to Pine Lake Music’s Composer’s Symposium, I had heard about through Mrs. Lopez. I will tell more about that in part 2. Thank you to all who donated toward this!
As people arrived, they checked in with Tom W. and received their name tag and personalized folders.
Everyone received a name tag and a folder with sheet music (several octavos and a new hymn), instructions, and notes, as well as information on copyrights and church music complimentary of CCLI, and Hymnprovisation.com
We were blessed to have 46 worship leaders, pianists, vocalists, and fellow musicians from South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and California! It was a great group of people who sought to improve their skills in musicianship, and to learn how to make excellent music in praise to God.
We began on Wednesday evening, with welcome, introductions, announcements, and a concert by our instructors, Brian Fox, Jim White, and Faye Lopez.
Mr. Fox was Master of Ceremonies, and led in corporate worship at the beginning of the group sessions, as well as conducting the chorale, and string ensemble, and teaching conducting and song leading. We began with the introduction of a brand new hymn by Faye Lopez, Blest Be The Tie, which was fitting for this conference seeing as we had many people from many denominational backgrounds, who all were come together to make God’s praise excellent!
After the the introductions and announcements, the rest of the evening was dedicated to hearing from Faye Lopez and Jim White, as they shared the gifts God has entrusted to them, with us. Part of the purpose of this was to hear what they are able to do with the training and experience they have gained from years of practice, performance, worship, and teaching.
J.W. Pepper was also on hand with four tables of music, books, and resources for those involved in music ministry, and if they didn’t have what you were looking for here, they offered free shipping to conference attendees!
This was intended to be a “hands-on” music conference. Each student was encouraged to try out and implement the techniques they were learning, and each who wanted it, had the opportunity to present, accompany, or lead the singing at the final concert and community hymn sing.
Impromptu singing at the breaks in the wonderfully acoustic lobby!
Piano Accompaniment Class
We were very, very blessed, to have published composer, teacher, and pianist, Faye Lopez, all the way from Bob Jones University, in South Carolina, come out and teach piano accompaniment. The wonderfully expressive Mrs. Lopez, shared from her years of experience teaching, playing, arranging, and writing music. In addition to the regular sessions, she also did a couple of Master Class sessions, where students could present a piece they had been working on, and receive instruction on how to improve their technique, the way they think of the music, the way they express their music and much, much more, in a mutually encouraging, constructive environment!
Students were encouraged share a song they had been working on, with the purpose of improving techniques through excellent instruction.
There were also a limited number of private lessons available from Mrs. Lopez for an additional cost.
During the breaks, there were numerous opportunities for networking, and to learn from others, browse, and purchase sheet music from JW Pepper, practice what you learned, play or sing music in the lobby with others, or simply relax and enjoy the incredible refreshments provided by the John Smythe Family!
High quality, hands-on instruction by dynamic music ministers in the following fields:
Song leading/Choir/Orchestra directing
Congregational Accompaniment (piano)
If you lead music, sing, or play for your church, or want to learn these skills, join us on June 1-3 in Spokane, WA for two+ days of instruction in these fields! You won’t be disappointed! This is a hands on class, designed with the intent that you will come away with useful techniques to make excellent music.
Mike Livingstone, on his appropriately named blog, mikelivingstone.com, wrote an article titled, “The Heresy of Worshiptainment”, which caused quite a furor among the church today, and inspired the last article I linked to in my previous post. If you did not click the link to read Livingstone’s piece, I highly recommend you do now!
I wish I had read this one before posting the last one, because even though I don’t appreciate people throwing around the accusation, “heresy” (because most of the time they have no business doing so), I think that Livingstone nailed the church to the wall in this post, as evidenced in part by both the furor and the angry comments received!
It was convicting.
As a minister of music, I have to constantly guard against the pride that I struggle with day after day-especially when the Holy Spirit is moving freely through me and the music coming out is good. I constantly struggle in the desire to please men though, and to “tickle their ears”, by entertaining them. But, while there is, I believe, an appropriate time and place for entertainment, while assisting the congregation in worshipping God, that isn’t my calling. And it’s certainly not the time and place! My calling is to praise the Lord whose name is Holy and Righteous, to bring Him honor in body and in Spirit-in essence, to tickle His ears! It is to assist others in doing so while playing piano accompaniment or even while playing a special or offertory. In fact, my desire is that all men should worship the Lord, rather than me, and sometimes that means I need to stop what I’ve been doing, and be still. I can’t tell you how many times I had prepared something to share as a special or offertory, only to be led by the Spirit at the last minute, to change it. I had prepared all sorts of grand ideas and fancy playing under the guise of it being for the Lord, when it really wasn’t what would’ve brought Him the most glory. Instead, he had me play something totally different, but every time I’ve listed to this still, small, voice saying, “This is the way…” I have had people come up afterward and tell me how blessed they were!
And you know, I am blessed when they are blessed! That means it’s double the blessing it would’ve been!
All I can say is, Praise the Lord: Give God the glory due unto His name!
I just read this interesting article, chronicling some of the church’s history as an entertainment venue. I’d never really considered it as such before, but I think the author is correct. I suggest reading it with an open mind.
It’s some interesting food for thought: Our houses of Worship (that are supposed to be reserved for worshiping the LORD GOD), have become places of entertainment, many of which hardly differ from a night club or a fancy concert hall. Really, what IS the difference? Concert halls have sacred music in them sometimes. And though I’ve never been in one, I’m quite sure that you can hear about God in a night-club too, albeit, probably in a derogatory manner. But maybe God isn’t all impressed with our huge buildings, light shows, overhead displays, fancy chairs, theater lights, sound systems and so on and so forth. Have we ever really stopped to think about this? What really brings Him praise?
Psalm 50 tells us that He doesn’t despise the broken and contrite in heart;
Psalm 66 tells us to make His praise glorious;
John 4:24 says, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”
Jeremiah 29 reminds Israel that if they obeyed the LORD, “…then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.” (vs 12)
Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
Brothers and sisters, there are hundreds more like this. None of these verses have anything to do with bands, and fancy lights and smoke machines, or orchestras and pianos and pipe organs either. They have everything to do with the heart. In fact, all of that stuff that is designed for entertainment, is really a distraction most of the time, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be used as ONE channel of blessing and honor to the LORD. It can also become a stench to Him. Can I encourage us all to make sure our hearts are right, so God will will accept our praise? And if you are in a position of leadership, to encourage the congregation to do the same?