Instrumental Groups – Growing Them and Involving Them in Worship

Instrumental Groups – Growing Them, Involving Them in Worship

Jeff Cranfill 

First Baptist Atlanta

(770) 234-8254

jcranfill@fba.org

Web site: jeffcmusic.com

Musicians Institute

Prayer is the key to motivation, attendance, personnel, finance, growth, etc. needs. Eph. 3:20, 21 – “God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine”. Prayer gives us God’s power, presence, provision, and perspective.

Psalm 33:3 – Skillful playing is biblical!

Called servant or volunteer player?

These verses lay the parameters for our service of the Lord Jesus.

“You are worthy, O Lord to receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, and by your will they exist and were created.” Rev. 4:11

“Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with high sounding cymbals.” Ps 150:5

“Sing To Him a new song; play skillfully with a shout of joy.” Ps. 33:3

“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance, for you serve the Lord Christ.” Col. 3:23-24

“Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become manifest; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” 1 Cor. 3:12-15

“…nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Luke 22:42b

“…nor will I offer to the Lord my God sacrifices which costs me nothing….” 2 Sam. 24:24 (middle of the verse)

“Let all that you do be done with love.” I Cor. 16:14

Orchestra members must come with no personal agendas. Whenever there are underlying motives, there will always eventually be conflict (Pr. 13:10).

We are to come as selfless servants, willing to do whatever is needed to make 

this group all that God wants it to be.

Prepared – spiritually (guard against Satan’s attacks) and musically

Willing – change, correction, etc.

Clean (hands and heart)

We need to be:

Minister or Performer? God is the audience.

Not entertainment – instrumental music is most effective in worship when the music brings to mind the text of the song, or provides a background suitable for meditation on scripture.

Starting a program

  • Enlist support – communicate early and often. Share your vision and dreams as God reveals them.
  • Pastor, church leadership
  • Minister Of Music
  • Enlist a prayer team. Pray that God would bring the players that are needed, as well as meet the scheduling and budget needs.
  • Select a date to begin rehearsals, and a date for the group to play in a service.
  • A “performance” goal is important to help get people there.
  • Advertise church-wide and in the community for interested players to come. 
  • Having the players call in advance to register can help determine what music can be played.
  • Select, purchase, and pass out music before the first rehearsal. Select music that glorifies God, ministers to your congregation, and that the groups can play – at least eventually.
  • In the rehearsals, love and encourage the players, make them feel welcome.
  • In the service, the orchestra can play stand-alone pieces (preludes, during the service offertories, and postludes) or accompany congregational singing. There are several instrumental hymnals available.
  • All Church Orchestra – invite everyone who plays or used to play an instrument to come for a one-time event on a Sunday afternoon. Make the music available ahead of time for those who want to practice. Rehearse together that afternoon, have dinner together, then play in the evening service.
  • As the orchestra or instrumental ensemble plays in services, it becomes easier to invite other players to come and join. While ministering to the church, an orchestra is also a great outreach – attracting instrumentalists to the church.
  • The church orchestra is unique in the musical world, and is indeed unique from group to group. 
  • Most often, it consists of a wind ensemble, a rhythm section, and strings. 

Incorporating Technology

Stems, loops

Recruiting

  • Pray!
  • When can you stop recruiting? Never!
  • Enlist people to help you recruit – invite
  • Church web site/social media
  • Pulpit announcements/skits – A Pastor’s endorsement carries great influence.
  • Music surveys – site
  • Word of mouth, personal invitations are most effective. Have the players make 
  • Contacts – invite friends from work, school, etc.
  • Often times, good instrumentalists are in the choir
  • Posters, handouts
  • Make announcements in Sunday school departments/Classes
  • Advertise outside the church – newspapers, marquee, Ads in local schools band/orchestra web site, 
  • football programs
  • Outside groups to do concerts/combining with your players.
  • Bring in big name solo people.
  • Ask someone to come join the orchestra for one particular event (Christmas musical, etc.)
  • Visit local high school band and orchestra rehearsals -help the director with 
  • sectionals, etc. – or just be an extra pair of ears. Ask him to invite good players –  
  • sight reading, key signatures, tone, confidence.
  • Hire players on occasion
  • All church orchestra event – Play It Again! Invite everyone who plays or used to
  • play an instrument to come for a one-time event on a Sunday afternoon. Make
  • the music available ahead of time for those who want to practice. Rehearse 
  • together that afternoon, have dinner together, and then play in the evening service.
  • Community Band/Orchestra – get involved and meet folks there
  • Follow up prospects personally.

Adding Players

  • 2 weeks rehearsal waiting period
  • Auditions 
  • Tone
  • Technique
  • Range
  • sight-reading
  • blend/balance
  • Interview
  • Bio. Info.
  • Schedule
  • Attendance policy/expectations
  • Spiritual condition – be sensitive to the Holy Spirit

Orchestra seating/set-up

  • Acoustic set-up
  • Rhythm section needs to be as close together as possible
  • Set the instruments in their family group (consider doublings)
  • rhythm/percussion
  • brass
  • woodwinds
  • strings
  • Louder/lower instruments in back, softer/higher instruments in front
  • Seating ideas
  • Shields, baffles

Be prepared yourself

  • spiritually
  • musically
  • score study
  • tempo markings and tempo changes
  • keys and key changes
  • which instruments have melody or solos
  • which instruments have accompaniment/harmony
  • spots that need rehearsing – difficult or unusual passages or lines that will probably need specific attention.
  • unusual chords/harmonies, often including accidentals
  • Conducting

Practice/improvement

See my Practice Plan and Principles

Preparation for Rehearsal

  • Psalm 33:3 – Skillful playing is biblical!
  • Generally, the players must enjoy their conductor, enjoy the rehearsal, and know that they are accomplishing something in rehearsal. If a group sounds good, you attract more players. If you run good rehearsals, you keep more players.
  • The people are giving their time to God, not us, and we must be prepared to make the maximum use of it.
  • Have a pencil in every folder – if you miss it, mark it, so that you will remember it 
  • next time.
  • Plan what pieces in what order. 
  • Early in rehearsal – warm-ups, more familiar pieces, easier sight reading
  • Mid Rehearsal – hard work, rehearsing, details, music for Sunday
  • Late Rehearsal –sight reading, challenging project
  • End with something they like, that sounds good
  • Everyone needs all of the music ahead of time
  • Have a librarian – other than yourself

Use rehearsal notes

  • rehearsal order
  • announcements
  • information
  • prayer requests
  • schedule/calendar

sign-out slip

In Rehearsal

  • Keep rehearsal pace brisk and interesting
  • Use brief warm-ups (tone, balance, blend, key, following the conductor)
  • Let the players play
  • Keep talking (directions and instructions) to a minimum – except for devotions
  • Don’t stop and rehearse too often, or in too much detail
  • Give directions once
  • When correcting a player, give specific and detailed instructions Use humor – as consistent with your personality
  • Make musical progress – fix what needs fixing

3 kinds of mistakes:

1. Fix them

2. They’ll get better on their own

3. They’re not going to get better

  • Vince Lombardi – Strive for perfection, attain excellence.
  • Count measures together when starting somewhere in the middle of a piece
  • Some talking in the group is okay – that’s the only time some of them see each other!
  • If conversation gets out of hand, lovingly reel them back in
  • Convince them that they are ready to play – confidence

Attendance – Motivation/Morale

  1. Be here when you are in town. When you are not here, there is no one to take your place.

2. If you must miss, let me know ahead of time. Make sure that it is God’s idea for you to miss. (sign out)

  • When they let you know that they must be out, just say “thank you for letting me know”.
  • Phone call – from me and others in orchestra
  • Note
  • Know that it’s going to be bad sometimes

Spiritual Growth And Ministry

  • Pray for your people
  • Stay close to God
  • Don’t worry – pray!
  • Know their spouse and children’s names 
  • Model love for God and passion for His ministry – tell them what God is doing in your life
  • Bible study
  • Have a spiritual “nugget” in every rehearsal (song texts, hymns, etc.)
  • Remind them constantly that they serve Jesus!
  • Have intercessory, small groups prayer in rehearsal as often as possible
  • Fellowship (homes, lunch, socials, games, concerts)
  • Visit homes, hospitals, funeral homes
  • Have orchestra prayer meetings – prayer gives us God’s power, presence, provision, and perspective.

Devotional time

  • Be brief, and to the point
  • Group worship – use the words to the songs in the rehearsal – put the words on the rehearsal notes
  • Prayer requests
  • Prayer groups
  • Teaching – bible passage
  • Testimony

Church Relations

  • Pray
  • Communicate
  • Check the calendar
  • Work to make your Minister of Music and Pastor successful – Prov. 27:18
  • Be involved in other areas where possible
  • When making proposals – have all of your information, and appeal humbly. Help your minister of music/pastor see what you see – why your proposal is necessary
  • When planning – consider the effects on other ministries
  • Have a good reputation – be a team player