Give Your Music Department A Summer Break!

For perhaps the first time in the over 30 years I’ve been serving in the music ministry at my current church we’ve begun talking about perhaps scaling back our rehearsal schedule for the Summer. I wanted to know if any other music ministries already did something similar, so I asked the members of my Fan Page community.

I got a mixture of answers, but by and large most of them told me that nothing changes at all for the Summer. I’ve been really thinking about this a lot lately and I do believe it’s important for us to plan at least one or two times of the year that we can slow down a bit and give the ministry as a whole time to rest a bit.

Summer makes sense for many ministries because it’s a time when many people are going on vacations and such. But it’s also a time of the year when there isn’t as much going on that involves a lot of preparation for the music department.  Do you really need to practice every single week, every group?

One thing we’ve put on the table is scaling back to one rehearsal a month throughout the Summer. We’ll make it a bit longer and cover more material, but it will be material we already know, just to refresh and perfect it for up-coming Sundays. Just a couple of ideas. The article below is one I found on-line that I thought had some great ideas on the subject of taking a break during the Summer. It even includes a list of things both leaders and members can do during that time off. I’ve included a direct link below. By the way, you’ll see a video with a choir pictured on it. Ignore it, it’s just an ad. Great information here though, and something we should all consider.

Give Me A Break! | Greg Ferrara Music

http://gregferraramusic.com

“Does your music ministry take a break during the summer? Here are a few … Catholic Worship Leader, Singer/Songwriter and Truth Teller. Worship … Does your music ministry team or choir take a month off? I have found that …”

Read more …

The Most Overlooked Reason Congregations Don’t Sing Along With The Praise Team

I saw an article recently that talked about what he referred to as “the death of congregational singing”. One of the main reasons he sited for this is how much more complicated songs have become in this day and age than they were before. It’s true, even of some praise and worship songs.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “a song the angels can’t sing”. Well unfortunately I believe many praise teams are often choosing songs the congregation can’t sing. Something most of us don’t consider when we’re choosing songs is the most obvious consideration of all: Will the audience be able to sing this?

Often in our zeal to choose powerful, popular songs that we feel will create an atmosphere of praise, we choose songs that are, quite frankly, intimidating for the audience. Don’t get me wrong, the audience may be really enjoying the song. Yet they don’t actually participate in the worship experience. Instead most congregations simply stand politely and watch the praise team; because that’s what they’re supposed to do. That’s protocol. Here comes the praise team, better stand.

But when it comes to actually joining in and becoming an active participate in the praise and worship many congregation members find the songs simply too intimidating to sing along. They may feel it’s too high, too many words, the format or flow of the song is complicated- you get the idea.

We often fail to catch this because we’re singers and musicians. This is pretty common stuff for us. So when we hear that hot up-tempo song with the awesome chord progressions and the great harmony arrangement-the one that modulates 4 times and just works us into a frenzy-we think “Oh man, this is gonna be great! We goin’ IN when we sing this!”

We fail to understand that the people in the audience aren’t “music people” like us. So while modulations, high notes and directional changes are all familiar to us, they tend to leave audience members thinking “I can’t do that” (COUGH “Chasing After You” COUGH). So they stand and clap and enjoy the show, but they don’t join in the praise.

So it’s really important for praise team leaders and members to never lose sight of why we even have a praise team in the first place. Our primary goal is to create an atmosphere that encourages corporate praise and worship. That only happens though, when the audience begins to join in and sing together, rather than watch our “praise show” from the sidelines.
For more articles and help with your praise or worship team’s ministry check out Praise Team 101.

How embracing technology can take your ministry to the next level

Moving onIt’s no secret we live in the information age. The entire world is literally at our finger tips now. And yet many people are hesitant to embrace technology. I suspect though, that it’s not  as much about fear as it is about that unwillingness we all have to embrace change. After all, doing something new comes with learning, and fumbling, and reading, and time spent having to think- all of which many of us have “switched off” by the time we’re around 30 or so, in favor of our nice, normal, comfortable lives.

But what if I told you that embracing technology is all a part of God’s plan? Have you ever thought of that? Sure it is. It HAS to be. Remember this scripture?

Matthew 24:14

14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

I don’t think anyone would argue against the fact that it’s happening right now, and technology is a huge part of what’s making it possible. But what about YOUR message. YOUR ministry. What about what God put inside of YOU? The same technology that is right now sending the Gospel to all parts of the world has been made available for you to use to take your ministry to the next level. That means your singing. Your playing. Your teaching. Your coaching. Your encouraging words. Whatever that gift is that God has given you to bless others. We all have one, some more than one. And we all have them for a purpose

There’s no reason not to take advantage of every tool and resource God has made available to you in order to take your ministry to the next level. And now that we’re in the 21st Century, the time has come to stop resisting change and embrace this new technology that God is using to reach all parts of the world.

Did you know for example, that you can you get one-on-one coaching with me from anywhere in the country? Did you know that we can do live, face-to-face coaching via video, in real time via Skype? Oh, I see. You don’t know anything about Skype and don’t want to have to download something (even if it’s free). And you don’t have a webcam or a microphone so you don’t want the hassle and expense ($50 or less for both) of buying them and setting them up. I understand.

Well would it surprise you to know that you can also do it right from your Facebook profile? YES!! Still don’t trust it? Well, do you trust your cell phone? Because guess what, in the age we live in now, you can make calls all over the country without any long distance charges. So you can even take a lesson with me by phone! I’ve done it myself several times when I studied with a vocal coach out of California.

And the great thing is, there’s no need to stop with just voice lessons. As I type this there is a church music department preparing to install a web cam in their sanctuary so they can do a live praise team workshop with me over the internet. Another long-time reader is planning to take a lesson with me via phone. If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve studied with me already, via my free video vocal training course. Still others have been taking vocal lessons with me for months in my new home study vocal training program Vocal Ministry Breakthough. The possibilities are endless now.

In the 21st Century you can study almost anything you want with anyone you want from anywhere you want. Think of the freedom that gives you. Think of the incredible levels of access you now have. God has literally erased all boundaries and limitations to you having everything you’ve been praying about for your ministry. It’s time you open up your heart and mind and start embracing all of the great and wonderful things God has put in place to get to us everything our heart has desired. It’s time to, as Kirk Franklin said, “Get Up And Live!”

  Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? Isaiah 43:19

 

Best Easter Songs For Gospel Choir

A while back I was searching the internet for something related to Gospel Choir and I stumbled upon this Squiddoo page. The author, Joan Hall, goes by the name of Joan The Choir Lady. Her Squiddoo page was full of tons of great information for choirs. I got to know her on Facebook, and she recently told me that Squiddoo no longer exists! But Joan has transferred all of her awesome articles and lists for Choirs to her website, ChoirParts.com.

But the one I want to share with you today absolutely blew me away. Joan  has put together one of the most exhaustive, complete references I have ever seen on Gospel Choir songs for Easter. You have got to see this thing!

Not only did Joan put together an amazing list, but she also included YouTube videos where available, song keys and even level of difficulty! I was amazed. I’m not even going to post any of it here because I want absolutely no credit whatsoever for the work this young lady has put into this.

So please, please go right now to Joan’s website and check out  Best Easter Songs For Gospel Choir . I need you guys to do me a favor when you get there though. When you go to Joan’s page, please leave her a comment thanking her for this awesome page. And when you do, tell her that you learned about her from The Music Ministry Coach.com!

Seriously, if you don’t find an Easter song for your Gospel choir on this page, something’s wrong!

Paul’s Message Message Of Encourage To Single Believers

 

It is a FACT that not everyone likes Valentine’s Day. That’s probably because not everyone is “boo’d up”, so the day feels kind of cruel and dismissive to people who aren’t in a relationship of some kind. I was one of those people when I wrote this. Then I remembered that Paul actually talked about the subject of being single.

So I thought about taking Paul’s message, breaking it down and giving commentary on it, talking about what it means, etc. But then I thought, nah. Paul was doing a pretty good job of that on his own. So I’m just going to post the passage and let you read it in his own words. My hope is that if you do find yourself single today that you’ll be encouraged also. Take note of what Paul is saying here about the advantages of being single for someone who is in ministry. Happy Valentine’s Day!

1 Cor. 7:25-40

25 Now concerning the virgins (the marriageable [a]maidens) I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion and advice as one who by the Lord’s mercy is rendered trustworthy and faithful.

26 I think then, because of the impending distress [that is even now setting in], it is well (expedient, profitable, and wholesome) for a person to remain as he or she is.

27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife.

28 But if you do marry, you do not sin [in doing so], and if a virgin marries, she does not sin [in doing so]. Yet those who marry will have physical and earthly troubles, and I would like to spare you that.

29 I mean, brethren, the appointed time has been [b]winding down and it has grown very short. From now on, let even those who have wives be as if they had none,

30 And those who weep and mourn as though they were not weeping and mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they did not possess anything,

31 And those who deal with this world [[c]overusing the enjoyments of this life] as though they were not absorbed by itand as if they had no dealings with it. For the outward form of this world (the present world order) is passing away.

32 My desire is to have you free from all anxiety and distressing care. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord;

33 But the married man is anxious about worldly matters—how he may please his wife—

34 And he is drawn in diverging directions [his interests are divided and he is distracted from his devotion to God]. And the unmarried woman or girl is concerned and anxious about the matters of the Lord, how to be wholly separated andset apart in body and spirit; but the married woman has her cares [centered] in earthly affairs—how she may please her husband.

35 Now I say this for your own welfare and profit, not to put [a halter of] restraint upon you, but to promote what is seemly and in good order and to secure your undistracted and undivided devotion to the Lord.

36 But if any man thinks that he is not acting properly toward and in regard to his virgin [that he is preparing disgrace for her or incurring reproach], in case she is passing the bloom of her youth and if there is need for it, let him do what to him seems right; he does not sin; let them marry.

37 But whoever is firmly established in his heart [strong in mind and purpose], not being forced by necessity but having control over his own will and desire, and has resolved this in his heart to keep his own virginity, he is doing well.

38 So also then, he [the father] who gives his virgin (his daughter) in marriage does well, and he [the father] who does not give [her] in marriage does better.

39 A wife is bound to her husband by law as long as he lives. If the husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she will, only [provided that he too is] in the Lord.

40 But in my opinion [a widow] is happier (more blessed and [d]to be envied) if she does not remarry. And also I think I have the Spirit of God.

How To Get Your Youth Choir Excited About Their Ministry

Grumpy MaryLet’s face it, dealing with a young choir can be very challenging. Sometimes it seems like they’d rather be anywhere, doing anything but this. Helping them past this stage often means stepping back from your own frustration with it and seeking to understand them where they are a little better.

To illustrate that, let me ask you something. Have you ever rented a car and then spent a couple of hours detailing it inside and out? Putting Armor-All on the tires? Filling the car with gas before you brought it back? Of course not. Nobody does. Why? Because it’s not yours. You have no emotional bond or connection with it. It’s someone else’s thing, you’re just “in it”.

There’s a certain pride that comes with ownership. It makes you see a thing differently. It changes your attitude towards a thing. I feel that same sense of ownership about the church band I play in as well as the sancuary choir. I don’t “own” the choir, but ask me about them and I’ll refer to them as “my choir”.

This sense of ownership is often missing in young people when it comes to how they feel about the choir they’re participating in. That’s true because of several different reasons that would make this blog way too long to discuss in detail. Suffice it to say though-and excuse me for stating the obvious here- young people are young.

Many of them, even though they may want to be there, are simply very shy or very turned off by the thought of being in front of people singing and clapping and jumping around and being excited for Jesus.

But a lack of enthusiasm can also stem from a lack of pride or ownership. A lack of connection with the ministry as their own. So when I first started working with our youth department that’s one of the first things I sought to begin instilling in them.

Aside from constant dialog and verbal reinforcement with them, simply telling them that this is their choir; their ministry, and something they can and should be proud of and dedicated to. Something they should want to be as good as it can be; we seek to reinforce that sense of pride and personal ownership by asking and encouraging even the youngest of members to step forward and take on leadership roles.

That may be directing, playing an instrument or taking lead vocals on a song. Our young people were instrumental in choosing the songs for this year’s musical, which I think is extremely important. Because the act of doing so makes this year’s selections “their” songs, rather than songs they were given and forced to sing.

If there’s one thing young people care about it’s their image. What’s cool and what isn’t. They don’t want to look bad and they certainly don’t want to sound bad in front of people. This, for me, is often a powerful motivator to get them to go the extra step to learn parts, or loosen up and move.

But when it comes to moving and displaying energy, having fun and being themselves, young people have to be absolutely certain it’s ok. Not only that it’s ok, but it’s actually what the audience wants; and more importantly, what God wants. Even with all that in place though, they will hesitate to do it if the environment they’re in isn’t one that makes such behavior “the norm”. The cool thing. If they feel it’s something that’s being forced on them they’ll certainly resist it.

But again, without a deeper connection to the ministry itself, young people will often lack the kind of passion and excitement teens start to display as they get older. What do we, the adults do in the meantime? We continue to coach, teach, encourage, and stay positive in front of them. And more importantly, to be what we’re asking them to be.

Be energetic, be positive, have fun. But DON’T scold and fuss at them. I’ve been guilty of this, and if you want to completely shut a group of young people down, that’s the way to do it. We must be examples of what we’re asking them to be. And we must keep reinforcing the fact that it’s ok to have fun and smile and laugh and be their natural energetic selves while they sing for God. Not only is it ok, but God LOVES it and so does the audience.

I think though, the most important thing to remember when working with a youth choir is (again stating the obvious here) it’s a youth choir. Depending on the ages you’re dealing with, many of them have to be brought to rehearsal by their parents. So we can’t really be upset when they aren’t there; Not with them, not with their parents. We must keep in mind everything that parents have to do already.

Secondly, even with a group of kids who want to be there and want to be a part of the choir, it takes time for them to start to “get it”. And as my friend and I discussed the other day, it’s just not something you can rush. You just have to continue to encourage, teach, foster an environment of fun, make it ok for them to be themselves, and nurture that sense of ownership. Ownership brings about pride. Personal connection. A different level of belonging and caring. And trust me, as a few start to get it, they will strongly encourage their peers to “get it”. And nothing we adults can ever say will be more powerful than that.

Just ask Markus, age 16. Markus would barely make a sound, ever. That is, until his buddy told him at the last rehearsal “why you singing all weak like that? You need to come on with it!” After that the two of them proceeded to blow everything out of the water for the rest of the night. And that started a chain reaction that made everybody else step up their game too. Now both of them have a whole new sense of pride in being great, strong tenors that can handle their section.

So if we’re summarizing this whole thing down to a few bullet points, let’s call it:

  • Be what you’re asking them to be
  • Be patient and encouraging
  • Don’t fuss or scold at them. Teach and educate
  • Create a sense of ownership and pride by giving them assignments, leadership roles and involving them in decision-making

Young people have to get to a point where they “get it” on their own. Often that simply won’t happen until they’re ready. We can aid in getting them to that point by offering wisdom, guidance, encouragement and patience, while being more of a partner in the process rather than adopting the “drill-sergeant” approach. Or worse yet, giving up on them entirely.