The sound of music

Another request for a non-sports entry (on several fronts- I can’t believe people actually email me over this, you guys are awesome) has led somewhat to this, though I had the beginnings of this kicking around in my head for a while.

I played sax in church both Saturday AND Sunday this weekend, and probably felt as good about it as I have for quite some time. This has been an on-again, off-again thing for me for a few years now, depending on time, worship leaders, and my own enthusiasm and mindset. There are several reasons for this, which I may or may not get into later.

Before I get any further, thanks to everyone who said “You did great!”. As someone with a noted propensity for missing the forest for the trees, I’m often very critical of myself, and this was no exception. Your words are an encouragement and an inspiration to me, in more ways than I’ll ever adequately express. I was still mentally going over that ‘Days of Elijah’ part (I’ll get it someday, dangit) when Cathy came up and started gushing this morning.

Karen’s the worship leader at our church, and it finally came to a head after the last time our quasi-regular college-aged team played, and I’d covered our missing trumpet player’s parts in practice, before flipping back to do my own stuff for the service. She said she was going to put me on a regular team, saying that, “You deserve it.”

She and I have had this conversation several times over the last couple of years- I’ve always wanted to play, but at the same time, I’m cognizant of the fact that horns don’t necessarily fit into a normal worship service, and did not want to infringe on any existing teams. So we re-treaded that ground again, and actually managed to make it work for this weekend.

Back to the reasoning for a moment. One of the biggest problems integrating wind instruments is that they read off sheet music, and worship teams usually use chord sheets- so while they have a set part, a sax or a trumpet would not. So for a worship leader, it can be a lot of work to integrate a horn into a more traditional four-piece  (guitar, drums, vocals, bass) worship setting.

Though not having sheet music has never been a problem for me, there is a certain peril in having too MUCH freedom, one which I had struggled with in worship in the past.

So when Karen has brought me on, she’s always had an idea of what she wants me to play at any given time, even occasionally writing up arrangements for me. With other leaders, this wasn’t always the case- sometimes good (Bob usually stuck with the hymns, and I’ve got instrumentation for that), and sometimes bad (I’ve worked with a couple of “fire and forget” leaders, and sometimes didn’t really know if they liked what I was doing. This was a little frustrating).

She really worked with me on this over the last year or so, beating into me the concepts and ideas that would make it fit, make ME fit. I’ll admit, I fought it for a while. I really struggled with it early on, about laying back in certain areas (even with my professed desire to not stomp the singers), and sometimes just doing long notes on slower songs, rather than all the freedom prior leaders had granted me to, as she put it, ‘noodle around’.

I would come home frustrated after practices, but in the end, I would trust her. She was the professional musician, and ultimately, the best way for me to play. And I DID want to play.

I can’t really say if it happened overnight, or over time, but we did reach an understanding. Or maybe I just figured out what she was trying to tell me. In any case, I’m drinking the Kool-aid now.

Praise Him with voice, and harp, and lyre.

Praise Him with drums, electric guitar, and alto sax? Why the heck not?


One thought on “The sound of music

  1. wordloch

    Chandel and I might be at Church this Saturday as we will be in to watch a hockey game (2pm at MRC. Be there or be a person doing something else.) I hope you’re playing this weekend. We appreciate Karen’s commitment to making the worship relevant and about God. I do appreciate the all hymn piano/organ/single vocal at the church we go to, but it’s distracting to learn all new old songs. It’s though to sing praises to God when you don’t know what you’re singing. Blessings and peace.

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