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  • Suggestions for instruments for worship service

    Good day,

    Wanted to throw this out and see what suggestions some of you would make.

    I am in the process of redesigning our worship team, and my pastor has given me the green light to assemble a "wants" package for our service. Currently we have the following;

    Grand piano
    Hammond organ
    drums
    acoustic guitar
    electric lead/rhythm guitar (sometimes)
    baritone sax
    alto sax (sometimes)
    flute (sometimes)

    I know it's a grab bag but we use the volunteers that have a heart and want to play.

    We also have an Ensoniq (sp) digital piano that I was told we didn't have the foot pedal, but after searching high and low through the church I found it!

    So my question is this: What are some of your instrument setups like? What instruments do you utilize in your services, and (I'll throw it out there) if you could put together a list of "needs", what would that list entail?

    Our morning worship services are musically a blended mix of hymns and contemporary music, and there are a couple druthers' I'd like, such as...

    would like to stop using the organ every week, and use it every once in a while.
    would like to move from the grand piano to the electronic keyboard to have the sound funneled through the sound mix, and add a synth to the keyboard mix.

    So for right now my package (if it works out) would consist of;

    synth
    digital keyboard
    drums
    acoustic
    electric lead/rhythm
    bass (we have not had anyone step up to play bass yet)

    brass instruments and woodwinds when needed (but probably not every weekend).
    That does take away using the grand piano and it's such a beautiful instrument and sounds great, but it's difficult with it being a purely acoustic instrument even though we have a mic affixed underneath the hood.

    So knowing that, what would some of you suggest?

    michael
    Last edited by Michaeldt; 05-24-2012, 05:20 PM.

  • #2
    I've been in very few churches where an acoustic piano sounds good. We used to have one, and got rid of it because we never used it, and it wasn't worth the money spent keeping it tuned. (in New England, it has to be done at least 2x a year)

    We have:

    Guitar (switch between acoustic and electric)
    Keys
    Drums
    Bass.

    What I would add: Another guitar player. Percussion. A violin. Sax/brass. In that order.

    Comment


    • #3
      This is kind of tongue in cheek, but you could use the organ to play the bass line, until you get a bass player. And you could save the grand piano for special songs and special occasions.

      If your church has a very long history and a very big group of old-timers, you will quickly learn that the organ and grand piano are the only instruments that Jesus and the Apostle Paul allowed to be played in their services.
      Tom

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Wannabe a Worshiper View Post
        This is kind of tongue in cheek, but you could use the organ to play the bass line, until you get a bass player. And you could save the grand piano for special songs and special occasions.

        If your church has a very long history and a very big group of old-timers, you will quickly learn that the organ and grand piano are the only instruments that Jesus and the Apostle Paul allowed to be played in their services.
        Tom
        Yeah, I deal with that some now in the music selection, but I have to say this; I have found that the older generation is more flexible in the selection of music than the younger generation has been. The older people don't mind bending a little bit with the contemporary music, but the younger folks just turn their noses up at the hymns.

        Good idea with the organ/bass problem.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by mikeymo1741 View Post
          I've been in very few churches where an acoustic piano sounds good. We used to have one, and got rid of it because we never used it, and it wasn't worth the money spent keeping it tuned. (in New England, it has to be done at least 2x a year)

          We have:

          Guitar (switch between acoustic and electric)
          Keys
          Drums
          Bass.

          What I would add: Another guitar player. Percussion. A violin. Sax/brass. In that order.
          Strike the phrase "New England" and this is exactly my response. I would first put all my resources into getting a bass player.
          I need pictures of your drummer in his booth/cage/room http://drummersbehindglass.com

          Comment


          • #6
            As far as piano, this might be an option-

            http://www.helpinstill.com/products.html

            Doesn't help with the tuning, but I have heard a couple pianos with one of these on there and it was so-o-o much better than dropping a mic thru the lid.

            Digital pianos are good too- the only thing that players seem to get caught up on are weighted keys. Many piano players will voice their disapproval of unweighted or semi-weighted keys.

            Outside of that, I agree with mikeymo.

            As far as the organ thing, as a bass player, I don't see it working that well. Note wise it can, rhythm wise, if they can pump their feet fast enough to make a good rhythm, maybe. But I'm biased...

            but I have to say this; I have found that the older generation is more flexible in the selection of music than the younger generation has been. The older people don't mind bending a little bit with the contemporary music, but the younger folks just turn their noses up at the hymns.
            Lol- yeah, especially as I get older, I see this a lot more. It's the old people who are stubborn and set in their ways, yet the younger crowd is just as set in their ways. Perhaps it's part of the "it's all about me" mentality that comes with youth. But, I digress...

            As far as where to start, what do you have for people? Do you have pianists, guitarists, etc? To start, use what you have and go from there.

            Sounds like you are on the right track.
            If we want to go places we haven't been, we will have to do things we haven't done.

            Comment


            • #7
              Here is what we have personnel wise at this point:

              Pianist
              Organist (fills in on piano when regular pianist is absent)
              drummer
              acoustic guitar (myself, but not on every song, every week)
              electric lead/rhythm player (works some Sundays, so he's not a regular week player
              baritone sax player
              alto sax player (college, not there every weekend)

              There are a few people in our membership who do play guitar or other instruments, but after talking with them they are not willing to commit to any services at this time. I've been praying that God will send us musicians, and we have a prospect couple who are both musicians (guitar and pianist) so I'm hoping God will send us even more to build up our musician pool and we could rotate the musicians out on a monthly or quarterly basis so no one gets too burnt out playing every week.

              michael

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Michaeldt View Post
                What are some of your instrument setups like? What instruments do you utilize in your services, and (I'll throw it out there) if you could put together a list of "needs", what would that list entail?
                We use a blended style of music at our services.

                As mentioned by others, there are those within our congregation that don't consider a hymn a hymn unless it's played by the piano/organ. In addition, the pianists/organists we inherited mostly are skilled at playing from the hymnal, and are not comfortable with chord sheets (or thinking about issues like blend, and who is leading, etc.).

                As a result, a fair number of the hymns we *do* sing are played by the piano and/or (Hammond) organ. We have two musician schedules: one for the band, and one for the pianist and/or organist. The pianist/organist are typically responsible for prelude, postlude, communion music, and offertories or hymns as they are scheduled per week.

                Our band is a fairly diverse group of musicians. When laying out the band schedule, we "slot" instruments and then decide how the mix will be for a given week. It looks something like the following:
                • Drums: (drummer name)
                • Bass: (bass player name)
                • Rhythm: (piano or guitar player name)
                • Lead: (may be the electric player's name, guitar player's name, or frequently blank)
                • Accent: (one of the harmonica / flute / trombone / saxophone players' names)
                • Vocalist(s): (vocalist names for that week)


                With such a varied team, planning the schedule so that the band will "mesh" and still give everyone an opportunity can be a challenge from time to time. One pianist is used to playing a lot of notes, and as a result I've learned not to have a lead instrument on weeks they are playing (the pianist will play enough to cover both lead and rhythm). There's also some conflicts in styles, but overall with some experimentation and time to gell we manage to present a decent band pretty much every week, although the members from week to week change... giving everyone regular breaks from playing.

                The working theory to this point has been that as God brings musicians, we try to find a place to plug them in. If the church adds a lot more musicians, we may have to figure out creative ways to use musicians: but at the moment God's given us what we need, even though some weeks more guitar players in the group would have been nice.

                If I were designing a band from scratch, it would consist of the following instruments:
                • drums. In our venue, for sound control, good quality electronic drums. Nothing cheap, or the sound isn't going to be great and/or the drummer(s) will be very unhappy. For small venues, even hand drums (like a djembe) can be an alternative.
                • bass, upright or electric.
                • One rhythm guitar.
                • One synth (mostly for pads) or string instrument. Optional, but nice.
                • One lead or accent instrument per week (electric guitar marginally preferred, although wind/brass instruments also work well here)


                I would still (with our musician set) want the piano and organ for some songs in particular (as an example, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God usually works much better with the full sound of an organ over an acoustic guitar) and for other traditional music players.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I appreciate the replies everyone; helps me get a better grip on what we have, what God has blessed us with and some ideas on how to better incorporate what we do have.

                  Let me throw another question into the fire?

                  How often (and possibly when) does your musical team rehearse together as a group? We've had a little trouble getting a set time each week to rehearse, and currently we've been rehearsing at 8:30am on Sunday mornings before Sunday School, but that just doesn't give us enough time to do anything more than make sure everyone has the same breaks, and at least knows the bones of the song.

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                  • #10
                    How often (and possibly when) does your musical team rehearse together as a group?
                    For us, not very often. Everyone has hectic schedules, so about once a month for an actual practice. We are blessed enough to have a team that can learn new songs or adapt to changes on the fly, so a regimented rehearsal schedule isn't as necessary. But, it does have side effects- mainly 'force of habit' habit takes over.

                    We rehearse at 8:45 or so Sundays before a scheduled prayer meeting. It works pretty well for us.
                    If we want to go places we haven't been, we will have to do things we haven't done.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Michaeldt View Post
                      How often (and possibly when) does your musical team rehearse together as a group?
                      I'll give you three answers.

                      For our regular Sunday morning services, we rehearse for about 90 minutes on Thursday, and have a half-hour warm-up and refresher on Sunday. We do a wide variety of music each week there, from music we haven't played in months (or years) to brand new music that will be introduced that week.

                      We also have a small Friday night band (that is completely separate). They rehearse for about an hour before the Friday night service each week. The music there tends to change more slowly, as they don't have time to do more than the minimum there.

                      I asked a friend at another church (they rent a school on Sundays) how they did practice. They meet once a month at somebody's house for practice, and practice about an hour before service each week. It sounds like this approach "splits the difference": the music for each week tends to change slowly, but the once a month practice allows them to bring one or several new songs into the mix.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Michaeldt View Post
                        How often (and possibly when) does your musical team rehearse together as a group?
                        We do a Sunday morning rehearsal only. Our church spent many years as a portable church, and at that time, the Sunday morning rehearsal was really the only option. Over the years, it has just stayed that way. I send charts, etc. out well in advance, and our musicians and techs know what they need to do ahead of rehearsal. We come in on Sundays and pretty much just run things - everybody already has their individual part nailed. Usually takes us just about an hour to be ready for the service, and since our service isn't until 10, it isn't a terribly early morning, either.
                        Eric Frisch
                        www.ericfrisch.com

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