Just wanted to throw this out and see how many churches are using brass players in worship. The world is flooded with guitars and drummers - which is not a bad thing, but can I find many churches using brass?

Post me your experiences in local churches.

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We used to have 3 trumpets and a trombonist (me). We had a great worship leader who arranged and wrote music, and he wrote all the horn parts. It was absolutely phenomenal! We got a lot of compliments -- people used to say we sounded like Chicago. It is amazing how many of these arrangements sounded so natural with brass, that when I hear the original recordings now, I really miss the brass parts.

Anyway, one of the things about being in the military is that people are constantly moving. That WL moved on and all the brass players moved on, too. I had to give up my trombone for a guitar, because I became the worship leader and found it difficult to play trombone and sing at the same time. I do miss it, though, and I still keep some of those old arrangements around in hopes that we get some horn players once again.

Hey Gary,

I am also a military musician serving in the church.  Any chance you would consider forwarding  copies of some of those horn arrangements you spoke of?

Bruce Patterson


Yes, I am in the same situation. I've been looking around for some good arrangements too. It would be great to  find a network of shared arrangements for the glory of the Kingdom. 

Hello Paul,
Welcome to WtR!! There are a few of us horn, or in my case wind (tenor sax), players here and a few other people who at least semiregularly use them in their service. I play just about every week unless I'm going to be out of town. It's like Gary says above, after hearing many of the songs with horn parts added they seem rather empty when the horn isn't there. People have actually come up and said that 'Hosanna (Praise is Rising)", "God With Us", and several others come out much better with the horn than without it.
Our guitar player also plays trumpet and we work that in when we can and it is fabulous! We had a guest one Sunday who is awesome trumpet player and he "ad-libbed" our set with us and did 2 specials and the we all felt so blessed and uplifted- we wish it was something we could have every week! It was just a fabulous sound that appealed to all age groups in the church. We would welcome brass if we had anyone else in our congregation who played and was willing.
I used to play sax along with a couple trumpets and a trombone player. Our worship leader wanted a Tower of Power sound on some songs.
Thanks all for your responses. Glad to know we have some horn players here. I play mainly in secular bands - Big Band, Soul etc, but play once every three weeks in a worship band at our church. It seems all the young players want to emulate the current worship-leaders with guitar driven influences, or want to be drummers.

I think also that as everything is written for keyboard and guitars, the need to transpose dissuades people from playing brass in churches.

We need a few good horn-driven bands and some new 'wave' to increase the popularity amongst young people I think.

Don't get me wrong, I love guitar and keyboard based songs, and I ad-lib my horn parts in the worship team, but too many churches seem to follow the same guitar-led worship and there doesn't seem as much variety as there could be.

Let's see what the future holds.
You had trumpet players who use MUSIC? Our love affair with CD-based arrangements has made it tough to even write a proper brass part (and the fickleness of pop culture often renders an arrangement old-hat sooner than the ink can dry) -- and when Vineyard got everything going in E, F# and B -- well... it was time to ask the horns just to make it up as they went (same for flutes, violins and sax). Actually, as a keyboard player, I use the sheet only for the words - in a four-chord song, who really needs even chords?

Now here's the blessing -- all of us non-guitars get to develop our ears and improv skills. A drummer can create complex tapestries of rhythm partly because it is impossible for him to read those patterns from a printed page. He has to invent, or internalize by ear what he hears, or meld the invention and experience together in his mind, often spontaneously adjusting to the flow of the instruments. Consider the wonder of an African musical ensemble, none of whom are reading a note of anything.

I had a pastor who saw how I'd helped people to learn ad-libbing, and he wanted me to do more to give color to the music; but chained to the keyboard, there was little I could do but grimace in the general direction of the horns or flute or whoever; and I didn't know how to communicate. Then a youth pastor came with an armada of hand signals (plus being just a vocalist). He was not afraid to turn his back on the congregation for a moment and be a conductor, bringing out this part, diminishing that. The worship band sprang into life!

Just some fuel for thought! Hope some of it might be helpful.
We've got a couple of saxophonists and a flautist who regularly play on Sunday mornings, but I am in the process of plugging one of my teens who plays trumpet with his school band into our youth band, with the intention of fitting him into the Sunday rotation. One step closer to my dream of rockin' the SKA.
Horns are so darn loud - I mean really loud. How did you deal with the volume? Otherwise, they are nice additions.
A good horn player can really control his dynamics. Much to my surprise. ha!

One trumpet player, in a church that sat about 400 people in its worship center with acoustical clouds, did a fantastic job of mixing in with the house mix of the band. He knew when to pop out of the top and put something over the band, he knew when to hide and glue things together.

It also helped that he had a variety of horns available to use. So he wasn't always on trumpet, though his dynamic control over a traditionally loud instrument was something to behold.
As a worship leader, I have used brass and woodwind every time I have a good brass player show up that can write his or her own tasteful parts. Sadly, VERY SADLY, these are few and far between. Over the last 20 years, sometimes even working in very musically oriented towns were good brass players are a dime a dozen, I have only really worked with two musicians on my teams.


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