tone, pace and accessibility.

Rehearsal last night wasn’t as bad as I expected. The music is definitely repetitive, and the lyrics sometimes mean abso-flippin-lutely NOTHING, but thankfully, this group didn’t repeat stuff more than 3 or 4 times. That said, there’s a new unexpected problem I have with the music now.

Tone and pace.

The tone is LOUD and the pace is FAST.

And I’m not saying that because I’m old and I just don’t like the music. I listen to a contemporary Christian radio station (Z88.3). I actually like punk rock to some extent. And our vehicles both have a preset to the classic rock station. One of my favorite walking songs is Dude Looks Like a Lady by Aerosmith. (GREAT walking beat). I’m not saying LOUD and FAST because I like soft and slow. Anne Murray is not on my mp3 player.

So, that established. The tone and pace of the music is LOUD and FAST. What does that do for a church service? It’s choppy. There’s no time for reflection. There’s no transition from the hectic world they just drove through to get there and the inside of the sanctuary. The walk through the narthex is too short for that. It needs to happen DURING the service. Is there a reason they call it the “Praise” team at this church and not the “Worship” team? Because those two words are not interchangeable.

FirstHusband was a music minister for over a decade in the first part of our marriage and he’s participated in planning more than a few worship services. One of the pastors taught him about tone and pace. Personally, my focus has always been on matching the music with the message as much as possible. I’ve taught speech, so the emphasis for me is supporting the message. “Supporting materials” as we call it in speech. So every time I’m asked to sing, I look for songs that enhance the message.

But FirstHusband is more about tone and pace. Flow. A warming up, a building up, a peak, a cool down. For example, throwing the announcements in the middle of the service always screeches the pace to a halt. I get it a little. I’m learning. And last night was a big data point for me. This music is so fast it’s sometimes difficult for me to keep up – if I want to breathe correctly. I breathe using my diaphragm when I sing and after two hours of rehearsal, I’m physically tired. Singing is almost like exercise when you do it properly. I was working extra hard last night.

Will the congregation keep up? I’m going to be watching to see if they do. Because another thing FirstHusband said was that the music has to be “accessible” to the congregation. I TOTALLY get that. Last Sunday, I sang the first verse of “I Can Only Imagine” by Mercy Me. (That one wasn’t too fast.) It was a praise team song, leading the congregation, but the congregation wasn’t singing. They were just watching, like I was singing a solo. After the first few words, I actually had to SAY, “Join Me.” to get them to sing.

Tone and pace. Accessibility. This is making a lot of sense.

I wonder what the new music minister will do.

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