Hello! I hope everyone is doing awesome and having a great weekend, and had a great service today. I stumbled across this website and I have to say it is pretty awesome.


I have been leading the music portion in my church (smaller non denom church) for 10 years, and I have been playing music in church since I was 8. (I am now 26). Our church in the past few years has grown from 50 people to having 250 people per service. We play mostly traditional hymns with a southern country type of influence. We have guitars, basses, piano, drums, banjo, etc. and for a church our size we have great musical talent.

As we have been growing we have gathered a great amount of people in the 20-40 age range, but keep in mind my church is still mostly older. A typical service in my church would include music such as: I'll fly away, the unclouded day, just a little talk with jesus, The old rugged cross, etc. The "timeless" classics if you will.

One issue I have always had every since I can remember are people my age having a hard time relating to the music. I have grown up in an older style church so I never really noticed it until the recent past year or two. It seems if someone has grown up in a church or listen to radio stations that play the contemporary stuff they are use to more of a "show" like atmosphere. Even though we all agree we do not do this to put on a show, but that is the best way I can describe it. They do not seem to get into the older stuff and then they end up leaving for someone else. (Ive actually had multiple relationships end for me because of the difference of opinion between my church and other contemporary churches.)


Anyways... I am in the process of trying to do a hybrid type of service. There is no question in my mind that I can feel the spirit much stronger when praising with more contemporary type of music because I feel there is just so much more you can do with the newer songs. Any tips on the Do's and Do Not's of contemporary music? As we all know people fear change, and I am definitely NOT planning on changing things completely. I just feel that an equal amount of time spent on both genre's would be great for our church. Heck I've even had a few 70 year olds ask me if I knew any Big Daddy Weave songs, which hearing them say that name just makes me laugh... But I digress.

Any tips would be appreciated!

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Very good point!



I don't have much to add being that i am the one looking for advice ;)


Besides, until Greg's last post, i was kind of lost with the whole greek euphenisms and wording.


I am just a simple man! I dont have all the fancy musical theory education and a greek dictionary. I just come humbled looking for advice from some great worship leaders :)

I'm afraid my fancy musical theory education consists of a couple of analysis classes in which the prof simply accepted our stuff and gave us A's without comment, so he would look like a genius!  Anything else I know comes simply because I like to write music and love chords and like to see how they flow together.  My actual comments relating to music theory are mostl guesswork.

As a pianist of 18 years who read sheet music for most of that time period (I also play 5 other instruments which I don't bother reading sheet music for) I can say for ME personally:


1.) Not reading sheet music allows me as a musician/"artist" to use creativity a little more

2.) Most churches that are less than 500 congregationally do not have the luxury of having classically or even any type of formal educationally trained musicians. (I consider taking lessons from someone who is certified as being trained)


I feel that while having written notes instead of chord structure is awesome, but in my service you have to know how to "play by ear" because of the way it is structured. We have a time period in the service where anyone can sing a song (separate from our praise and worship). They get up there without practicing with the musicians and we are expected to have the key they are singing in and be able to play along within the first 10 seconds. And 9/10 times we do.


I am sure it is partially "laziness" but honestly I just have more fun playing by ear with no rules.

For so long the approach in teaching has been either chord or note -- likely because it is very difficult to rationalize the two, and because chord notation is highly enabling to quickly produce sound that resembles music.  The more-accurate rendering of melody we see in the CCLI lead sheets compounds this difficulty (though it is indeed nice to see in print a good picture of how the guy sang his song, at least ten years ago when he submitted it to CCLI). 

I would love to see some sort of way to put hooks and jiggers on standard notes to indicate syncopations, so we'd never have to fight our way through tied sixteenths again!  Maybe a little slur that doesn't connect to anything, or use the < > signs to show "before or after the beat", something like that.  Of course, I am pipe-dreaming.  It's been forty years since the suspended-fourth chord became really popular through folk music, but my computer still only has "Xsus4" or Xsus2sus4" instead of the obvious -- X4, or X24.  It has an X2, but no X4!!! 

I looked up attempts to unify the clefs -- make the same clef for low and high.  A six-line clef would do the job (make both clefs EGBDFA), but makes too many optical illusions, and is tougher to draw by hand than the five-liner.  There have been three-line and four-line clefs (sets of three to cover the full band); and vertical staffs so that right is always up (the words are stacked vertically like Chinese).  But you'd have to reformat every note written since 1120 A.D. to accomplish any extensive reform. 

I've thought of using graph paper, so that words and notes and chords -- everything, would be represented by thick lines ____ ____ __ __ ____ ___ _= quarter, quarter, eighth, eighth, quarter, dottted eighth, sixteenth.  This could help the bass player learn how many beats to play, so you don't have to scream 4, 4, 2, 2, 4 -- NO!  the A chord is only 2 beats!, the B7 is only 2 beats!. and repeat the same at next rehearsal.  But I've never met a bass player who had anything except extreme hostility to symbols of any kind, even hash marks to show how many beats.

Perhaps a Unified Notation System is as hard to come by as the Unified Field Theory, or Systematic Theology.  But if any of you flks out here have been clever enough to find something that works and is accepted by the players, lay it on us!

I have a master's degree in organ performance, and can read charts well enough to sit in with a professional jazz band; but I'm with you in loving to play by ear.

Everybody plays by ear, even those who use notes.  And what Bach and Beethoven wrote, they made up by ear, out of their heads, first, then just tinkered with it.

That's really cool to have a service where you trust each other enough to have a free-song time.  We did something similar in my Pentecostal church (called "singing in the Spirit"), where we started with one chord and sometimes started the IV chord alternating, but rarely more sophisticated (when you begin to put in too many chords it gets too scary).  But it's a time of great beauty -- I'm amazed what people may start singing when they are in friendly company and let loose (that phenomenon is not limited to the karaoke bar:) 

On the other hand, I just picked up a news article that tells me that 27% of adults in Oregon have a degree, and 11% something equivalent to a Master's!  That's a lot of schmartz out here in the mushrooms and hem-fir.  Yet it's really hard to find anyone who reads music well.  You can't really find very many who read and write the English language well.  We tend to use our schmartz for things we are really focused on -- and people like to get away from the readin' and writin' stuff when they encounter music.  Music is partly an escapist thing.  When I was young, I used to think I knew what laziness was; now I'm not so sure.

Hey, good rant.  But even CCLI downloads don't solve that much.  Last Wednesday, our praise team just straightened out "Open The Eyes of My Heart", a song all of us had sung for probably two decades.  Trudi and Diane learned it from departed Dave.  I heard it from another church and wrote down what I remembered.  The CCLI transcriber put his own oar into the thing, and a dozen YouTubes all vary somewhat.  Do you go up or down at the end of this phrase?  Do you leave the suspensions hanging like Paul Baloche?  Do you resolve them in the middle of the measure or just not do the suspensions at all because the guitarist don't know how to do a suspa-whaddy-call-it?  and will only play the plain chord because God doesn't like all these fancy new chords.  We don';t have a guitarist, opnly a bass, but even so, just getting the altos and keyboards coordinated took about twenty minutes of hard work, unlearning our own rote-approaches.

Then again, notes don't say everything.  Mendelssohn visited a major German city, where he said that not one musician in the town orchestra could distinguish a triplet from a quarter and two eighths!

As to laziness, one could make a case that lazy musicians produced so much boring church music that there was good case for the guitar-revolution of the last generation (and if the current leaders backslide into the same pattern, there will be another revolution, and perhaps the worship band will be led with sousaphones).

You have any idea how GOOD a sousaphone sounds in a church, especially if you take all that miserable acoustical material off the walls?

Honestly, being that im not as educated in music overall as you are, you lost me awhile ago.


Im just trying to be a professional worshipper of God, not a professional musician.


Though i get it. Why cant there be room for both great execution and great worship. Thats a debate for people way more qualified than i am.

Ah, the feeling of brilliance!  I've been watching the drummers at our school.  They walk in with a riff they learned and play "better-than-you" with their friends (just as one of my motivating factors for learning to read notes was to be better than them!).

Interesting concept, "real music."  Once I saw an ad for a baseball team which advertised "real sun.  real grass.  real baseball" (all three a cut on the team across the freeway).  I just drank a lemonade which advertised "made from real lemons."  Do they make lemonade somewhere from unreal lemons?

Many times in my life I've been approached by keyboardists who ask, "can you show me how to do what you do?"  I show them a few riffs and begin to explain how they work, and they fade away.  They just wanted a few more riffs for their collection.  Now in a way, that's been my own "education".  Sure, I sat in classes and analyzed stuff till it was seeping out through my gills; but most of my real education was just listening to music of every shape and style, gaining appreciation of it, learnjing to like things I didn't before and gathering riffs, Chopin riffs, Beethoven riffs, Ray Charles riffs, White St.Paul Boys Choir riffs, John Riffman riffs, and working them into the music.  But folks seem to want to become good somehow without absorbing music outside of their zip code.

Why do people despise education?  They're likely afraid of it.  It's a kind of fundamentalism that despises all except what was learned from daddy or my friends.  It's no fun to be at church if people are afraid of you; but we're all afraid of something; it's part of the scenery.

Yes, Greg N., people don't have tails 'cause we spend enough time chasing our own imaginations.  People love to imagine freedom.  "If we can just get free of those hymns..."  "If we can just get free of feedback..."  "if we can just get free of boring sameness..."   Jesus said that He sets people free, and that His freedom is true freedom (if "indeed" means "indeed."  We can do well to ponder what His statement means.

Man, Greg N., don't even get me going on "Imagine."  Our high school choral teacher, who is deeply religious, chose that for a concert piece.  If you imagine he's just talking about the dark side of guns, religion, capitalism, etc., there's good reason to feel like it's a paradise if they're gone.  But my son bought me, for a birthday present, a copy of the Communist manifesto, the original "Imagine," so I could learn how those bad boys actually thought, firsthand.  Poor Marx imagines an agricultural world, the smokestacks and bosses gone from the scene -- peace and homemade pumpkin pie.  And no Pharisees-in-churchman's-robes.  But how to bring it about?  Arise -- slaughter -- we have nothing to lose but our chains.  What freedom!


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