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Developing A Music Ministry From Scratch


Guest Lee Blick
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Guest Lee Blick

The Assignment

 

Within 5 years to develop musical activities to support the liturgy and the parish community.

 

The Church:

A medium-sized building built in the late 1800's. Church of England, liberal Catholic tradition. Sunday mass attendance 70-80 consisting mainly of elderly folk but more recently some young families have become involved. Leaky roof needing £150,000 to repair. Full time priest (being reviewed). There is no history of a choir or music group at the church. Although you will be paid for playing for services, you will be required to seek funding/raise money to pay for other activities. The hymn book used is the old English Hymnal and Dom Gregory Murray as the mass setting.

 

The Parish:

A poor London inner-city area. Large ethnic population. Infant and secondary school in parish. Brownies, Beavers and Scouts use the church hall.

 

What you are required to do:

Improve congregational music and singing

Develop a music group/choir/cantors to enrich the liturgy

Raise funds to recondition the organ or provide a new pipe or digital intrument

Ensure music and musical activities are inclusive making use of the resources within the church and the local parish area. There is no money to engage a professional group!

 

How would you do it? What would your priorities be? How would you engage the local community?

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I was faced with a similar situation as well. The first priority should be the improvement of congregational music and singing, achieved by the reconditioning of the current organ or the purchase of a new one. These two go hand in hand.

 

Then follows the cantors, choir and musical group.

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
The Assignment

 

Within 5 years to develop musical activities to support the liturgy and the parish community.

 

The Church:

A medium-sized building built in the late 1800's.  Church of England, liberal Catholic tradition. Sunday mass attendance 70-80 consisting mainly of elderly folk but more recently some young families have become involved. Leaky roof needing £150,000 to repair.  Full time priest (being reviewed).  There is no history of a choir or music group at the church.  Although you will be paid for playing for services, you will be required to seek funding/raise money to pay for other activities.  The hymn book used is the old English Hymnal and Dom Gregory Murray as the mass setting.

 

The Parish:

A poor London inner-city area.  Large ethnic population.  Infant and secondary school in parish.  Brownies, Beavers and Scouts use the church hall.

 

What you are required to do:

Improve congregational music and singing

Develop a music group/choir/cantors to enrich the liturgy

Raise funds to recondition the organ or provide a new pipe or digital intrument

Ensure music and musical activities are inclusive making use of the resources within the church and the local parish area.  There is no money to engage a professional group!

 

How would you do it?  What would your priorities be?  How would you engage the local community?

 

 

 

How friendly are your local schools?

Would you be able to go in and work on their territory?

I would have thought that forming a new children's choir would be a very positive and straightforward step. Such an initiative will cost you very little in comparison to the outreach (and contribution to services) that it gives.

 

Kids (and some parents) can be scared off by the effort of coming to you, so going to them can be a good ploy. An after school club could be ideal. Of course, the education authority will insist that you be CRB checked, but then you should have to go through this hoop if you plan to run anything involving children at church anyway.

 

 

I have to say that steps to replace a poor organ would be some good way down my list of priorities. In most situations, folks are rarely enthusiastic about raising major funds early in any musician's time - after all, we (and they) have seen it all before and keen musicians don't always stay. Ask around and you may find that a good builder can patch up what you have to make it last at least a couple more years. There are some (not many) good 'TLC' organ builders out there. I remember being told by the boss of one famous London firm that he had instructed his tuner not to repair faults in the organ I was organist of. I was shocked and suprised at this bold admission. His logic went: the instrument is/was well overdue for a rebuild, and he did not want anything to put that day even further off. Needless to say, I found another builder. The church could never afford to have a major rebuild - more than thirty years on, it's still there, still unrebuilt.

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Guest Lee Blick

The church has had little contact with the schools in the past, save for the Christmas Carol Serve held by the secondary school. The infant school however has a new middle-aged headmistress who has started to attend services in the church.

 

The priest, not a musician, but sees the need for a decent accompanimental instrument is keen to improve the resources in the church. He has hinted there is a member of the congregation willing to donate the money for a digital organ.

 

How would the contributors here go about starting off such groups. What sort of music would you use and what sort of approach.

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The church has had little contact with the schools in the past, save for the Christmas Carol Serve held by the secondary school.  The infant school however has a new middle-aged headmistress who has started to attend services in the church.

 

The priest, not a musician, but sees the need for a decent accompanimental instrument is keen to improve the resources in the church.  He has hinted there is a member of the congregation willing to donate the money for a digital organ.

 

How would the contributors here go about starting off such groups.  What sort of music would you use and what sort of approach.

 

Hi

 

You mention a large ethnic population - I would want to look in that direction, alongside the "traditional Anglican". (But be prepared for what we would regard a sloppy performance practices!) The church is supposed to be inclusive - but it needs work to make that happen.

 

I've been to a few Asian Crhistian services here in Bradford - very interesting (even if I didn't understand much of what was said or sung - I don't speak Urdu!) There's a lot of potential out there, if we can only find it and encourage it.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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  • 5 months later...
Guest Barry Williams
Hi

 

You mention a large ethnic population - I would want to look in that direction, alongside the "traditional Anglican".  (But be prepared for what we would regard a sloppy performance practices!)  The church is supposed to be inclusive - but it needs work to make that happen.

 

I've been to a few Asian Crhistian services here in Bradford - very interesting (even if I didn't understand much of what was said or sung - I don't speak Urdu!)  There's a lot of potential out there, if we can only find it and encourage it.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

 

 

A most important point with any music ministry is to ensure that no-one ever thinks they have the right to sing in a choir or play in a musci group/orchestra. Establish, at the outset, that membership is only by audition and annual auditions at that. By doing so you will attract musicians of competence. There is a mistaken apprehension that anyone can perform in church to the glory of God. Of course they can, but not in public unless they are competent! (Victor Hugo had something to say about this.) Good musicians and singers will run a mile from the 'melody bass' type of choir.

 

Barry Williams

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The parish church just down the hill from me was recently looking for an organist and choirmaster. They eventually appointed a decent player with plans for developing the church's music. (Among the first things he did was to advertise for an organ scholar and for youngsters to form a youth choir). He has just resigned after only six months or so. The choir, he felt, needed improving, so he attempted to instigate a regular brief warm-up before Evensong. This met with resistance from the singers. It culminated recently with the organist trying to insist that that week's anthem really did need that extra warm-up and the choir refusing and accusing him of being "pig-ignorant". At least, that's his side of the story!

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