OTHER MUSICAL GROUPS
BY KENNETH W. OSBECK
There are many services in the average church which need special music periodically without necessarily using one of the regular church choirs. Such services include the prayer services, the special meetings, young people’s meetings, ladies’ and men’s meetings, Sunday school sessions, etc. The Sunday evening services, hymnsings, services throughout the summer months also provide excellent opportunities for using special groups.
I. THE ADMINISTRATION OF THIS PROGRAM
An active music committee is an essential in the administration and development of a total church music program. In addition to the regular board members or members of the congregation delegated to this responsibility, this committee should include the pastor, music director or directors of the individual musical organizations, the organists and accompanists, a sponsor from each of the children’s choirs, a representative from the Christian education committee, and the presidents from the teen-age and senior choirs. Some of the main responsibilities of this committee include:
1. A concern for the overall spiritual effectiveness of the entire church music program, including such areas as the music used in the Sunday services, the choice and use of songs used in the various departments of the Sunday school, youth departments, etc.
2. A concern for such matters as providing leadership and proper facilities for each of the musical organizations as well as obtaining song leaders and accompanists for the Sunday school departments and youth groups.
3. A concern for the condition of the physical equipment used in the music program–pianos, organ, hymnals, church owned instruments, etc.
4. The establishment of policies with respect to such items as the use of the church organ, the preparation of a yearly proposed music budget for the church board, and the planning of several social and recognition events for the various choirs.
In addition to the above responsibilities, the music committee should meet periodically with the music director to consider the musical potential within the congregation and to schedule the music for the various services of the church. These committee meetings should be held at least several times throughout the year. It would be good to have a meeting in the late summer to plan for all of the services through the first of the year; another meeting the first of the year to plan for all of the services through Easter; another meeting to plan from Easter to summer; and another meeting in the early summer to plan for the services throughout the summer months. Generally the music director will act as chairman of these committee meetings. As in any well organized committee meeting, there should always be a printed agenda of the various items of business to be discussed.
Once the music committee has surveyed the musical possibilities within the church and has set up a schedule for all of the services within a certain period, a letter should be sent to all of the various individuals involved in furnishing special music. This letter should give the service, date and time that the individual or his group is requested to participate. It should also be stated in the letter that the music director or accompanist will contact the participants and make arrangements to practice with them before the service. This type of planning does away with the usual last minute, frantic attempt to get special music and insures a much better quality of performance as well.
In addition to its various graded choirs and instrumental organizations, a church music program should also include such groups as:
Men’s Groups–A male chorus
A male quartet
Ladies’ Groups–A ladies’ chorus
Trios and quartets
Soloists, duets and mixed quartets
Various instrumental ensembles
In organizing these smaller groups it is best to organize them so that all of the individuals are compatible with each other and within the same general age bracket.
II. MEN’S GROUPS
A singing group that generally has the most popular appeal in any church is a men’s group. Even though the vocal quality may not be the best, there is usually something quite impressive to most people about a group of singing men.
In most churches a male chorus is a rather loosely organized group that does not practice regularly. It is usually called together for special occasions and services. The membership is open to all who like to sing, regardless of ability. The rehearsals are often held before the Sunday evening service or perhaps as part of the regular monthly men’s meeting. Usually this type of group sings the “old chestnuts” with the music arranged in “barber-shop style,” that is, with the melody or “lead” in the second tenor part. This makes it possible to place on the melody of the song all of the men who do nothing more than carry a tune. A few other voices on each of the other three parts will soon produce a fairly good male chorus sound.
When it is possible to have a more select group and more definite rehearsal times, much higher musical standards should be achieved. Better blend, balance and dynamics as well as a better caliber of music should be expected. For this type of group it generally sounds best to use music with the first tenor part carrying the melody. These same principles of better performance and music should also characterize the church male quartet. The following is a brief list of gospel song collections for male voices:
Sing Men, Vols. 1,2,3,4. Published by Singspiration.
Gospel Song Messages. Published by Rodeheaver.
Men’s Voices. Published by Lillenas.
Coleman’s Songs for Men. Published by Broadman Press.
Male Quartets 1,2. Published by Ives Music Press.
Songs for Men, Vols. 1,2. Published by Zondervan.
Quartets for Men. Published by Rodeheaver.
Lillenas Songs for Men. Published by Lillenas Publishing Co.
Radio Bible Class Quartet Favorites. Published by Singspiration.
Old Fashioned Revival Hour Songs. Published by Singspiration.
III. LADIES’ GROUPS
A ladies’ chorus is similar to a men’s chorus. It generally is not a formally organized group but is used primarily for special occasions or services. Like the male chorus the membership is open to all ladies of the church, regardless of ability, who desire to sing. It is often true that in a church there are many individuals with good voices who are unable to sing with the regularity of the senior choir but who welcome occasional opportunities to sing with these special groups.
Since the rehearsal times are usually limited for such a group, the music must be arranged so that it is easily learned yet attractive enough to interest the singers and listeners. Even the simple two part songs can be used effectively for such groups, especially when the second part is in the-form of a counter-melody or descant. Here again the greatest number of ladies will sing the melody part with enough other ladies who can sing harmony carrying the second part to give reasonable balance. From this larger group smaller groups such as trios, quartets and sextettes can often be formed. These smaller groups should be able to sing a better quality of music and sing with a greater degree of skill and precision.
There are numerous fine gospel song collections that can be used effectively for solo, duet, trio and mixed quartet work. No attempt will be made in this book to list these various publications. This information can be had at any Christian bookstore. It is often possible to find many fine special numbers in various hymnals, especially in those no longer in popular use. From these various sources a music director should build his own collection of special numbers. A director must train himself to be continually looking for new and interesting songs that can be used with one of these special groups If possible, it is good to have periodic voice classes for those especially interested in improving their singing as well as to prepare solos, smaller ensembles, etc.
IV. INSTRUMENTAL ENSEMBLES
Beautiful musical results can be achieved with various combinations of instruments. For example, with string instruments (violins, violas, cellos, bass), trios, quartets, quintets can be formed. Strings can also be used to good advantage with various combinations of woodwinds such as flutes, oboes and clarinets. Woodwind ensembles such as clarinet duets and trios, saxophone trios and quartets can also achieve beautiful effects. Trumpet trios, brass quartets (2 trumpets and 2 trombones), or brass sextettes (2 trumpets, baritone, French horn, trombone, and tuba) can add a great deal of inspiration to a service.
Directors interested in finding more interesting and challenging music for brass ensembles should send for a catalog to:
Brass Player’s Guide
Robert King Music Co.
112A Main Street
North Easton, MA 12356
Interesting string and wind ensemble arrangements are available through the:
Maranathal Music Co.
P.O. Box 1396
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
For the woodwind choir, a collection Suite for Woodwind Ensemble by Anderson, published by Belwin Mills, is recommended.
1. Discuss the factors involved in having a well organized music department in a church. Discuss the responsibilities of the music department to the church board, Sunday school, youth work, etc.
2. As church music director, prepare an agenda for a music committee meeting to be held at the beginning of a new choir season.
3. List five numbers that you feel a volunteer male chorus would enjoy singing.
4. List five numbers that you feel a volunteer ladies’ chorus would enjoy singing.
5. Discuss the various combinations of instrumental ensembles that could be formed.
1. Musical Ministries by Pratt. Published by G. Schirmer.
2. Music Levels in Christian Education by Tovey. Published by Van Kampen Press.
3. Steps Toward a Singing Church by Kettring. Published by Westminster Press.
4. The singing Church by Liemohn. Published by Wartburg Press.
5. The Singing Church by Phillips. Published by Faber & Faber, Ltd.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY KREGEL PUBLICATIONS 1961, PAGES 163-167. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.