They have some excellent articles for church musicians to read. The best so far is Putting together a simple arrangement in Church. It is part of a much larger series called Leading music is a small church.
As a church musician, it’s easy to feel limited by a lack of resources. You’d love to have a big church band, but all you’ve got is a couple of piano players, a violin, and a guitarist who first picked up the instrument three months ago. There’s a constant shortage of people to fill the rosters, and you struggle to get through all the songs in your limited rehearsal time each week. Especially when the musos arrive half an hour late.
Then there are the tech issues. Your sound system dates from the 1970s, and the person operating it – let’s face it – he hasn’t got much of an idea. Someone keeps misplacing the overheads, and even when you check they’re all there before the service, when the congregation stands to sing it’s either the wrong song, or there are typos all over the place.
And the congregation is a musical brick wall! You’re sure that if you could only raise the standard of music at church – then they’d get into it. But not only do most people at church seem utterly indifferent towards the music (your attempt to get some clapping going results in a momentary smattering of hands for about 10 seconds) but some of them actually complain – either they don’t like the song selection, or the style of music, or it’s too loud, or too soft… you even heard one person say they dislike the music so much that they wonder why we bother singing at church at all!
So basically the writers have a very good idea of what it’s like to be in a non-mega church in Australia today. Their arrangement tips are good – piano players need to let everyone else play their role, and everyone else needs to actually fulfill the role set down for them – and they address the structure of the songs we play, when to be up and down, when to build, when to pause.
I’d encourage anyone involved in church music, whether a large band or small, to have a read through the articles at Reason Music – especially those coming to our new music day this week.