So my friend Amy also took the 31 Day Challenge, and you should really read her blog. And for the few Fridays this month, we are going to write on the same topic. Kind of like a conversation across blogs. Which is why, at the very least, you should read her blog on Fridays.
Today’s topic is all about music at church. Amy plays the piano too, and occasionally we’ve talked about playing at church.
And since we’re talking about playing the piano at church, I’m gonna do some preachin’.
For those of you who go to church: do you ever pay attention to the music? Do you realize that if the people playing in the band, or the piano, or the organ had decided to sleep in, you would be singing a capella?
I started playing the piano at church when I was 12. Granted, it was just for my youth group, but I provided a service, happily. Each week, I was given a couple of hymns to learn, and by the time I was 14, I could play pretty much every hymn in our hymnal.
For most of my adult life, I have provided music at church. Right now, I’m the backup organist and I play for the children’s ministry (Primary, for you Mormons out there). And I’m happy to pitch in. But at various times in my life, I’ve been grossly taken advantage of because of my piano skill. So here are a couple of tips for helping the music people at your church feel valued.
1. Thank them. Remember–they could have slept in. Last Sunday, that was my plan, and the organist was ill and asked if I could fill in. I did, and the congregation had music to sing along to.
2. Respect their time. If you’re planning a special music ensemble and need an accompanist and want to rehearse, start on time and have an ending time set. Have a plan. If this was the real world, that accompanist would be charging you $50 an hour for rehearsal time, so treat that time as the valuable gift that it is.
3. Provide fair warning. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked to provide music the day of an event. One time, it was one hour before the event started, and it wasn’t because other people fell through: they plum forgot that an accompanist was an essential part of the service.
4. Provide a song list. Yes, I can play most of the hymns in the congregational and children’s hymnal, and I can sight read most popular music. That doesn’t mean I’d appreciate a chance to run through songs prior to the service.
I really do love playing the piano (and even the organ) at church. When I do, I know I have the special opportunity to set the tone for the whole meeting. It’s an opportunity to contribute, with a skill that few people have.
So after your church services this Sunday, a challenge for you: thank your musicians. They probably love what they do, and are happy to provide the music, but I’m pretty sure they would also love to know it’s appreciated.