Instrumental Music In The Church
By Tommy and Judy Hudson
The first rule of instrumental music is that the instrument must be in tune. It may be old, it may be out of style or battered in appearance, but all of these will be insignificant if it is in tune. However, the finest instrument with the highest gloss and the purest tone will send shudders of disapproval down the spines of everyone but the tone deaf if the instrument is out of tune. Be sure to be early to church and tune your instrument before the prayer service. If you cannot be there in time to tune it before hand, ask a friend to tune it for you. Do not come in late or right at the beginning of a service and try to tune an instrument. Never play an instrument out of tune.
Musical instruments are used to support the vocals. The words that the singers sing are what reaches into the hearts of the listeners, not the music itself. The musical instruments should endeavor to blend together with no one trying to be the “star.” Musicians who play in a manner which causes them to stand out are drawing attention to themselves rather than allowing the focus to be on the person trying to lead the congregation into worship.
Learn How To Tune Your Instrument
A Until you master the tuning of your instrument, have someone else do it for you.
B If your instrument goes out of tune during the service, and you can quietly tune it without calling attention to yourself, do so. Otherwise stop playing immediately and sit quietly.
C Sometimes an instrument goes out of tune through no fault of your own. Do not blame yourself for the resultant discord. Smile and quietly put the instrument back in tune if possible.
D Always tune your instrument before the service if you are to play a special song. There is nothing more annoying than having the whole congregation wait while someone tunes his instrument before a song. It is not edifying and can completely distract the spirit of the service.
E Do not take for granted that because your instrument was in tune during the last service that it is now in tune. Temperature changes, humidity, and other factors can cause a slight change in the tension of the metals and it can go out of tune whether played or not.
F Many services are hindered because the service begins and then someone discovers that the piano is out of tune with the other instruments. Check the instruments often and report the need for tuning to the Directors. Play every instrument for edification of the whole church, not for the pleasure of the individual. The musicians should be dedicated to the edification of the church.
How To Edify The Church With Your Music
Never Play Your Instrument Too Loudly!
A A sensitive ear cannot long endure extremely loud sounds, especially when the sounds are electrically amplified. There is a nerve shattering effect caused by continuous loud playing. If you are playing an instrument with an amplifier, the sound chamber needs to be turned slightly toward you, so you can tell if you are too loud.
B Do not be offended if asked by the Orchestra or Music Director to turn your volume down. Sometimes the individual playing does not realize that his instrument is too loud or far above the other instruments. When you accompany anyone who is singing, play softly enough so others can understand the words of the song.
Do Not Give Uninvited Accompaniment
A If someone is scheduled to sing, he or she may have their own preference of accompaniment. If the singer does not ask you to play, please refrain from playing. Do not attempt to learn a song that you do not know while someone is singing. Only the principal instruments must do this.
B Most people have their own style and an instrument must try to fit their style. Only play as requested to do so, then do so softly and simply in a manner that does not call attention away from the singing.
C Do not play for the altar invitation unless you are playing a principle instrument. Confusion must be avoided during this time more than any other time in the service. Many times God moves in such a way that there is no need for an invitation song. To strike up a song at such a time or start playing music may actually interfere with the move of God. Be sensitive to the Holy Ghost.
Do Not Practice During Church & Do Not Idly Play Your Instrument
A One of the most obnoxious practices of Pentecostal musicians is that of idle instrument plucking, pecking or banging away while a testimonies, announcements, etc., are being given. This distracting and calling of attention to oneself is out of order in the service. It also shows a lack of interest in others.
B KEEP THE BEAT!! Do not try to run away with the music or drag it to death. Learn to adjust your rhythm or speed to the rhythm started by the leader or singers. You cannot do this unless you are paying attention. The song leader is there to lead the singing. Watch him closely throughout the songs and let him set the rhythm.
This article Instrumental Music In The Church written by Tommy and Judy Hudson is excerpted from their book Dividing To Multiply Volume Two.