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Well, the church I attend is once again going through a difficult transition in that our Worship Director has left "for personal reasons" after only a year on the job. I would imagine it is difficult to find someone to fill that role as it took about 6 months to fill it the last time but I digress.

The point is that it seems like the horns are an afterthought since now we only play when the choir sings which is once a month. This started after the original WD left. We were excited when the last WD arrived since he was a trumpet player, but that didn't get us anymore play time. The rest of the time (other 3 Sundays) the band consists of guitar (acc. and elec.), bass, a couple keys and a drummer as well as 2 or 3 vocalist. W/ our previous WD, the horns played more frequently and there were more than 3 of us. When they stopped paying (only certain players got paid) they quit showing up which that makes for a different discussion. With a church that has roughly 5000 in attendance each Sunday, you would think we could get some good horn players that would volunteer. I feel like I need to be a voice and get more players and get to play more often than the current situation.

Has anyone had to deal with this same issue and if so how do you overcome it? I love my church but performing is the one way I like to give grace and it is extremely frustrating when I feel the need to play at other churches just to be able to perform. It is uncomfortable for me to belong to one church but play at another, so if anyone has advice as to how I could take the bull by the horns so to speak and get some more horn action going on, I welcome it!
 

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Have you thought about applying for the position of WD yourself :?
 

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Well.....

I'd say this. If you pray about it and you feel like God's leading you in this direction I'd talk to your Senior Pastor and find out if you can become a part-time WD. Maybe have someone else work with you(someone who could work at the church during the day if you can't or vice-versa) so you can get a more balanced worship experience. Even in a church of 5000 you'll have a hard time finding people to play simply because of rehearsal conflicts and the like. The worship team at my church rehearses on the night my small group meets so I've never even sniffed a chance to play at church. No big deal, that's just the way it is. Belonging to one church and playing at another seems dicey. It feels like you'd be in a James 1:8 situation "A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways". I'd feel a little weird like I was using the other church just to play....see James 1:8.

The thing you have to understand is that CCM is mostly crap-ridden with bad music and even worse playing...and that's from the original artists. Now mix that with bad covers from church groups. Horns spice up what's going on. It makes the experience different and cooler and hip. If you want to play more you've got to have a good angle...I think this is your angle.

Good luck!
 

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I grew up attending a church that did not allow instrumental music or choirs at all. They just stumble through shaped note versions of hymns, songs, and spiritual songs.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
kavala said:
Have you thought about applying for the position of WD yourself :?
Well, I would have to say this is kinda out of my league. Being able to produce, arrange, play and direct at the same time and like are way outside of my experience. I think my best angle is to just lift up the horns for the moment.
 

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Thankfully, I've not had to personally deal with this kind of situation. I do have a couple friends who were playing in their church orchestra. The church got a new WD, who immediately cut the orchestra entirely out of everything, just wanted guitars, keys, and drums. The orchestra members decided on their own to practice and keep playing together. They give presentations at various places, churches and such, for many different occasions. Not sure this is an option for you...
On the other hand, you mentioned playing with the other musicians once a month, you might approach them about playing every Sunday...Even if it's just you for a while, you could put the word out others are welcome to join in as well and maybe some of the other horn players will play.
Just my $0.02. Good luck.

You could always give up playing at church and find a community band...:cool:
 

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Hi Jazzme,
I've been involved in church music for many years, sometimes closely (i.e. music committee chair), and sometimes peripherally (choir member). One thing that I have learned is that there are wildly varying opinions about what kind of music and how much music belong in a service, and the winds change with each change in pastor, music director, committee chair, et al. I've played my sax for a service perhaps once or twice in many years, and only when the music was well integrated into the worship service.

I'll ask you to reflect upon which of these is more true for you. Do you rely upon your saxophone as your means of worship, or do you rely upon your church to provide performance opportunities. If the former, I'd respectfully suggest that you attempt to broaden your access to worshipful experiences. Choir, perhaps? Music committe maybe, so as to have more input on your churches' music program? Or perhaps spiritual pursuits that may not be musical in nature.

If the latter, then your best bet is to redouble your efforts to pursue performance opportunities outside of church settings. It has always been my opinion that music in church should always be subordinate to the overall direction and intent of the worship service. Hence, as a strictly performance venue, it has inherent limitations. There is nothing wrong with wanting to perform but perhaps church is not the best place to meet that need. If I relied on my church to be my main source of performance opportunities, I would be very frustrated indeed.

Believe me, I sympathize with your frustration with your church music program. Good luck in finding a resolution that works for you.

Best regards, Ruth
 

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Ruth,

"BANG!"...the sound of a nail being hit squarely on the head. Excellent post with points we ALL need to consider in evaluating our church music participation.

A related point: Isn't it a responsibility of worship leaders to utilize, as best they can, the gifts available to them in a congregation? It seems that too many worship directors are intent on "building a program" that reflects their personal desires rather than making use of blessings dumped in their laps. I certainly don't know the whole story but it looks like Jazzme might be facing that kind of situation. It also seems that congregations need to be reminded to be more accepting of gifts/blessings they have rather than continually searching for what they want.
 

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I have a situation that is similar, yet different in many ways. I recently started attending a church with a more active program for our four kids. Though not a pro, I can play on key, have a good tone and know what is and is not appropriate depending on the style of music. I was active on the worship team with my sax in our last church. I have a throat/sinus problems which makes it painful for me to sing, so if I don't play my sax it is difficult for me to participate in the worship service. This new church has a very active worship team but the problem is that they have so many people on stage (mostly guitars but no horns), there is no room for more. I was going to talk with the worship leader a couple Sundays ago between church and Sunday school about possibly participating if there was a weekend when he was short, just to have them introduce a new member, who is a pro sax player and will be playing on the worship team. I really don't see much apportunity in the worship other than to sit back and sing when I can, but mostly listen to everyone else.

On a side note, I think it is interesting that worship leaders spend so much energy, money and time trying to get a congregation full of people who either can't sing or don't like to sing to participate, yet they don't explore getting the congregation to participate from the pews in other ways, like having a section for different instrument players to join in without being up front leading, asking peopel to bring tamborines, pass out shakers, etc. We expect non-singers who can't carry a tune to sing from the pews, why not encourage non pro, but semi-competent players to play, or non singers who can carry a rythm to shake a shaker? Does God have two different standards for what he considers worshipful? I know this contradicts the common opinion on this thread that anyone up front should meet a certain very high standard of competence, but since we don't expect that of the congregation, let them join from down below.
 

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SaxHack said:
Isn't it a responsibility of worship leaders to utilize, as best they can, the gifts available to them in a congregation? It seems that too many worship directors are intent on "building a program" that reflects their personal desires rather than making use of blessings dumped in their laps.
In my view, not necessarily. The worship director's aim should be to direct (and facilitate) worship. That might be using just a pipe organ (though that's not a church I'd want to be part of, but "horses for courses") or a five-piece AOR ensemble, or an orchestra, or something like the Stax rhythm section and the Atlantic Horns. The WD should have a vision of what s/he wants to do, where s/he wants to go, and how to get there. Then s/he uses whatever it takes. Sometimes that won't involve me, except as a worshipper in the pew. Tough on the harpist, euphonium player and kazooist, too, but that's all the time.
 

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When it comes to TRUE worship, it's been said that God is "tone deaf." Unfortunately most people in a congregation are not. I play for church and I'm far from being a pro, although some people are fooled that I'm really, really good. I personally don't like the choir setting as opposed to the more relaxed style of having a couple of guitar players, a drummer, bass player, a lead singer and some backup vocals. To me, whenever a choir is involved, it is all about the choir and the director putting on a show instead of leading people in worship. The choir setting is also much more structured and rigid, if it doesn't quench the Spirit it would sure quench any sax player's chops.
 

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FighterForJC said:
When it comes to TRUE worship, it's been said that God is "tone deaf." Unfortunately most people in a congregation are not. I play for church and I'm far from being a pro, although some people are fooled that I'm really, really good. I personally don't like the choir setting as opposed to the more relaxed style of having a couple of guitar players, a drummer, bass player, a lead singer and some backup vocals. To me, whenever a choir is involved, it is all about the choir and the director putting on a show instead of leading people in worship. The choir setting is also much more structured and rigid, if it doesn't quench the Spirit it would sure quench any sax player's chops.
Thanks for this post, Fighter! It illustrates beautifully what I meant by "wildly varying opinions" on church music. For me, nothing provides a more spiritual and meaningful worship experience than a choir singing beautiful, well-composed choral music. (I stress the "well-composed" part here, because IMO there is some really bad choir music being perpetrated and performed out there). BTW, the choir I have sung with has done some lovely music with instrumental accompaniment or a solo obbligato using flute, clarinet, or SAX. The choir also provides a good foundation for the congregational singing. And yes, there are those situations where the emphasis seems to be on "putting on a show", but I think that the liklihood of that is no greater than the "couple of guitar players, a drummer, bass player, a lead singer and some backup vocals" doing exactly the same thing. Personally I much prefer to experience this kind of ensemble in a nice club or lounge setting.

Which is "correct?" Neither and both. Which is why trying to create and lead a worship service that meets the spiritual needs of as many congregants as possible is so difficult---and we're only talking about the music here! If any of you find yourselves chairing or serving on a music committee, be sure to bail after no more than 2 years. It will eat you alive.

Ruth
 

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Groovy Mucker said:
In my view, not necessarily. The worship director's aim should be to direct (and facilitate) worship.
Ruth’s observation of "wildly varying opinions on church music" can be applied to responsibilities of leadership, too. I serve on the worship and music committee in a small Lutheran church; Lutheran governance is generally quite democratic. We are in the process of hiring a music director and just finished writing the job description after reviewing many examples – Lutheran and other denominations. All had phrases indicating it is the responsibility of the music leader to “identify, recruit, train, encourage, and nurture” the talents present in the congregation. The underlying thought is that God had something to do with those gifts existing in a certain place and responsible stewardship mandates that those gifts be identified, developed, and used. Even if the gift is a talented jazz saxophonist in an entrenched traditional congregation!

While it may be true in many churches that the primary responsibility of the worship director is to prepare “the big show”, there are many churches where the obligations run much deeper. The later makes more sense to me. Just my opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Lot's of good thought provoking comments going on here.

I do think with the next WD we get that I will try to be the "section leader," if you will, for the horn section. That would allow me to be more involved in our music program as well as take on some responsibility for the group. This may help me to learn the skills necessary to allow the WD the time to focus on the overall performance. Granted, performing in church isn't a show per se, but it is much like a production b/c so many things are going on such as the choir, main vocalists, instrumentalist, sound crew, light crew etc...the point being a WD needs to have reliable people to help "run the show."

I should follow the famous 10, two letter words diddy:
If it is to be it is up to me.
 

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Ask to play during the offertory. This gives you at least one song each week. Just keep mixing it up with different styles and arrangements and eventually, you'll find what the congregation really likes. That will lead to doing specials and praise music.

Also, step in where you can while you have no music director and try to get on the search committee to find a new one. This way you can help stear the choice and music type.

And mostly, pray. If the Lord is willing to bless a dooffus like me, I know He will help you.
 

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SaxHack said:
While it may be true in many churches that the primary responsibility of the worship director is to prepare “the big show”, there are many churches where the obligations run much deeper.
That's an interesting view of what I said. Running the risk of being accused of too much deconstruction, I wonder if it comes from the contrast between the majority of US churches and the Lutheran tradition. Remember I'm English, and would be mortified were anyone to suggest that our Sunday meeting was a "big show"! (I'm not taking offence.) There seems to be a difference on the two sides of the ocean.

As far as "my" stream of churches is concerned, it's the hearts of the musicians and people that matter, and the instruments are just an adjunct or a prompt. It would be bizarre for any of us to be paid, however skilled s/he was, except when putting on a show (which might involve worship but wouldn't be a normal Sunday meeting). US worship seems to me to be more performance-based, more "professional", than ever it would be in the UK. Is that fair?
 

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Groovy Mucker said:
That's an interesting view of what I said.
You are correct – it is an interesting view of your comment! And I apologize; I am guilty of interpreting through my cultural bias. You are perfectly fair in observing that worship in the US is at least somewhat performance-based. Certainly not true of all churches, but it does happen. And I’ll have to take your word for what happens in the UK.

I find it interesting that musicians are not generally paid in UK churches. Church work is a steady income source for many musicians in the US. And not just leaders – I’m talking about churches that routinely hire outside musicians on a regular basis or for “special” services. In all worship styles. Just an observation.

As a rule I'm not sure it's accurate to make assumptions about worship style, hiring practices, leadership responsibilities, etc. based on denomination. There may be the appearance of trends or preferences in some denominations but any specific set of circumstances can be found almost anywhere.
 
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