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Great topic, Marshall. It varies from place to place. But, it basically falls into three categories:

1) The Director/Worship Leader picks all of the songs and no questions asked;
2) The Director/Worship Leader picks all of the songs, but is open to suggestions; and,
3) The group or worship team gets together once a month and pick the songs together (this includes pizza or deli sandwiches with drinks [sodas, no booze] bought by the Church).

Needless to say, number #3 is the best, but rare. Most of the time it's #1 and on occasion #2.

The only rule that I've encountered is, "Does the song fit the theme of the service." The opening and closing song are a little faster due to the cadence of the ministers either walking in or out.

This is the first time I have ever heard of a twelve-week rule. It's also the first time, I've heard of a tempo rule (The first 3 fast, etc.). But then, she is the leader so it's her call. As one famous sax repair person says, "If they don't play the instrument, they just don't understand." And, if your leader only sings, and doesn't play an instrument, then we have the picture. It's a one-way street. But, this is the hand we are dealt sometimes.

This block of 140 songs is also new. We may have as many songs throughout the year, but they are sectioned off in smaller blocks specific to the season of the Church and theme of the gospel readings. For example: Christmas, Easter, and so on. We also take on about ten or twenty new songs every year, sometimes more than that, depending on what is available.

As an aside, in some situations, one of the problems that we instrumentalist encounter with leaders that just sing, is that all of the attention is focused on the singers. The instrumentalist is kind of left out on their own. The choir warms up, no instruments. Then the choir goes through a song and the instrumentalist get to play. Then they work on parts; SATB and the instrumentalist just sit there till the choir gets it together. Then the choir will do the song one more time at rehearsal and the instrumentalist get to play the song one more time. 90% is spent on the singers and 10% is spent on the instruments. With this kind of situation reading off the sheet is the norm and if one feels inspired to improvise, so be it. But there is very little time for free expression. The way around this is to take a tape recorder and tape it and then practice and noodle at home. During the week, it's the best rehearsal of all, with no interruptions.

Although, you are not griping, it appears that your comfort level could use some help. If you are a volunteer, don't feel obligated to play "every" song. Play what is within your comfort range. If they want an explanation, tell them you are going for a dynamic instead of having the same instrumentation in "every" song. This will also allow the other instrumentalist to stretch out when you are not playing and hopefully they will give you some space when you do play. Tell them that you don't want to "horn in" all the time.

The key is to get the songs before the rehearsal. Just because they call it rehearsal doesn't mean that it is rehearsal for the instrumentalist. Most of the time under these circumstances, it's rehearsal for just the singers. Ironically, you have to be rehearsed before "rehearsal," then you get to sit there and watch the singers rehearse.

There is nothing wrong in kicking it down to every other week, if it is going to increase your comfort level. The more comfortable you are the better you will play.

Get the songs way before hand and take control of your comfort range. Or you can do what I do, find another group that understands instrumentalist and are willing to work with them.

Also, as an aside: If you are not there every week, then the weeks that you are there become special for both you and the congregation and you are not taken for granted.

Just my two cents... and

· Registered
271 Posts
I was wondering if you and what you guys are getting paid to play for your church. I play saxophone and piano for a living and am in contact with a church that wants me to play two services and a four hour rehearsal per week. I was wondering what I should ask for pay.
It depends on:

The part of the country you are in and its cost of living;
The size of the Church income and their ability to pay;
How many capable volunteers the Church has;
How many other options the Church has;
How good you are at what you do; and,
What the last person got.

It also depends on how much you are willing to work for and how often you want to work. There is no set rate.

Christmas and Easter is usually more.

Keyboard players make a whole lot more than horn players.

It can go from anywhere to $100.00 to $250.00 per call in this area, which is a major West Coast city. $250.00 per call requires a Doctorate in Music. Small towns in the Central Valley in Calfornia wouldn't come close to that.

Horn players go from $75.00 to $200.00 per service (rehearsal included). The $200.00 would be for a wedding or other special event at a very high end church and one has attended some well known Conservatory of music, like Julliard, to command that price. Or, you have a major reputation in the area or are a well-known artist. Trumpet players usually make more than sax players in Orthodox Churches.

Ask them what they are paying and go from there. If you want more $$$ than what they are offering then they may be willing to hire you on a limited basis if they are hurting for a keyboard player or it's a real special event (Like a soprano saxophone for the Missa Gaia and you can play like Paul Winter.)

On the other's a free market and it really just depends.

Try and find out what the last person got in the position you would fill and find out what her chops were like. From there you should be able to come up with at least a ballpark figure. Good luck.

· Registered
271 Posts
I have to agree with Ian, it comes with time. Right now you have a lot on your plate. You really will not notice it till you get into the latter 12 week cycles and things will start to come back to you and you will realize that you are not starting from scratch. You are also facing some learning curves here, that take a while. The more you do it, the faster it will come. Even then, it still takes a while.

What worries me the most is your sinus/throat problem. Doesn't sound good and can effect your overall feeling. Tell your Doctor that after a song or two you are horse. It doesn't sound normal to me. Please have it checked out. If you are not feeling well, that will also impede your progress.
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