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Practice spontaneous contributions over and over again.

October 18, 2010

Matt Blick did a series on his blog on the subject of helping the congregation participate in our meetings, and I want to spend some time interacting with each of his twelve suggestions and see if I can squeeze out some more value from his ideas and share them as widely as I can.  This is number five of twelve. (some more of my own may follow, depends on how many people are still reading at the end of the series!!!)

Practice spontaneous contributions over and over again

Ok, so I know you can’t squeeze out prophetic songs on demand at rehearsal, but how about getting the singers to start singing any random scriptures and try to jam along. You can get them to start a song without telling you which one they’re going to pick. You can even get ‘em to try to start it really out of key. You’re trying to practice the mechanics of it so that when it happens for real on a Sunday you don’t freak. All you’re aiming for is to be relaxed enough when the Spirit does start kicking off you can actually still strum a few chords.

This one was short enough to copy and paste – and I haven’t got much to add to Matt’s suggestions!!  (Shock, horror!!!)

I especially like the idea of having someone start a random song at band practice, and just working out how to play along.  It is vital to lock away the music books at this stage!

If you do go for this option, here are a couple of tips for starters – please feel free to add your own!

  • Work out the key first – try singing what sounds like the root of the chord and work out the key
  • First one to nail the key – tell the others!!! Sounds really simple, but I see so many bands miss this one – no need to leave the rest of the band floundering in the wake of your ninja skills, tell them so they can join in!
  • Simply provide a framework for the individual or congregation to sing around. You are not trying to support this kind of contribution in quite the way you support congregational singing of a hymn or song – at least, not to start with.  And bringing too much by way of ‘music’ early on is actually a great way to kill the contribution (along with any chance of others stepping out in this area) as ‘forcing’ a favourite chord structure on the person bringing a prophetic song can stifle the creative flow of the gift; and a musician setting a wonky tempo for a song that they don’t actually know (but the congregation are picking up OK from the person who started it) can really bring a meeting to a juddering halt.  By a framework, I mean things like – guitarists choosing a very chilled strumming pattern of first beat of the bar only (to start with); keyboards, wait until you know how the contribution is building before you choose a funky synth or chilled string pad; drums, avoid playing a ‘beat’ until you know where this is going, but please play your instrumentsensitively until then; vocalists, if it is a prophetic song, please listen to it and remember key phrases so you can lead the congregation in joining in and responding.
  • And my previous post on rehearsing is helpful in this area too.

I’m really interested in finding out how people practice these type of things at the moment, or any other ideas you may have – please comment!!!

Next – a post about song choices and releasing the pressure of aiming for an epic Sunday!


2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 18, 2010 7:58 pm

    Good post Gareth. Practically I’d draw a distinction between prophetic songs and a ‘written song’ that someone starts. What you said is spot on for a prophetic, but if it’s a Matt Redman the band should aim to come in where they would if it was planned (assuming they know the key!).

    Also I’ve found it works best to have a designated ‘key finder’ who then (as you rightly say) communicates the key to the rest of the band (and whether or not they need to change the key).

    If everyone is trying to find the key at the same time (at least on a sunday) the resulting cacophony of random notes can sound like the band has just been afflicted by a demon of jazz fusion (and we all know how hard they are to cast out!)

    • October 18, 2010 8:12 pm

      Thanks Matt. Good point on the written song/prophetic song – I’d still treat a written song that the band clearly don’t know in the same way as a prophetic song, though: we recently murdered – I mean, pretty much crucified – ‘Isn’t He beautiful’ on a Sunday morning, and (however sad I am that the band don’t know such a vital and intimate song of response) it would have been really easy to release the congregation into engaging with this song and using it to express their love for their Saviour, and instead we left them thinking “This is loads slower than I remember it being” and “Are we going to have a girl singing any time soon?”. Great effort from the guys in the band, this is simply not something they currently spend time rehearsing for.

      And God in His grace still came and met with us – I need to remember this often!!!

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