A lot of stuff has gone down in the past few weeks. Our church has been rocked by some internal struggles, and all the ministries have experienced a bit of the fallout. The most profound change in my ministry has been that my good friend, Jerome (see Jan 12 post titled, “Jerome”) who is my biggest help has taken a three month sabbatical. As a result I have had to pick up the slack.
Jerome is a big leader in our South City worship site, so his absence has left a pretty big void there. To try to deal with this gap in the front line, I have tried to encourage and train the other musicians and singers to take more of a leadership role with the group. As a result some of my team have really stepped up to shine. It has been beautiful to witness.
Meanwhile, I have scaled back the number of new songs that I have been introducing. I have hoped that doing more familiar songs will give my team the confidence to get through these changes. SO, I have taken the time that I usually spend on preparing new songs to improving our old charts. It has been so nice to see the singers and the band respond to the improved charts. Rehearsals have gone a lot more smoothly and effectively, and so we can spend more time on refining our music or the leadership training that I was referring to earlier.
Those of you who are musicians might be wondering what kind of improvements I have been making to charts. Here are some examples: (if you don’t understand musician’s language then you will not find any of this link funny either)
- Form– clear repeats, D.S.’s, and rehearsal marks showing where sections begin and end. Written out introductions, endings, and modulations.
- Lyrics– my predecessors, perhaps to save time or paper, would make charts that only had the first verse of a song. Writing out each verse not only helps singer/instrumentalists like me; they also give the band a clearer picture of where they are and to get a better grasp of the song form.
- Melody- Guitar players and bass players often get buy with just lyrics and chords, but everybody else (especially chart-reading drummers) appreciate having the melody.
- Vocal Parts– Even with singers like NCF’s that are very skilled at hearing parts, there can be times when they just can’t hear a part. When the parts are written out for me, the leader, it saves so much time and energy in the rehearsal.
- Chords- Sometimes there are chords written in pencil on an old chart that some players have and others don’t. I try to keep to the original chords on a chart as much as possible, but usually I get carried away with adding some spice to the harmony. A lot of the charts of gospel songs in our library have been simplified for our more “rock&roll” based musicians, but so much of the richness of Black Gospel music is found in the blues, jazz and even classically influenced chord substitutions. I find it also helps the keyboard players a lot if I include the actual chord voicings where ever possible.
And now because you have been so nice as to read my blogg I will treat you with lame musician jokes. Enjoy!