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Playing For God
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (1 votes) 
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starise
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May 21, 2019 - 2:42 pm
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I seen this area and I figured I would post a short version of my story on this subject.

I've been involved with "church" type music since I was in my mid 20's. I hate to admit it but that's been over 30 years now.

I have been in a leadership role for at least 15 of those years. It's probably been longer than that. I have been through one heck of a lot of inner struggle during that time. You see, I never have thought I was the stereotypical christian, much less a worship leader. In my thinking that's a huge responsibility if you take it seriously. I never felt I fit into that slot. 

I probably go through many of the same things a pastor goes through. We are constantly looking in the mirror to make sure we are up to snuff. I can't tell you how many times I've slipped up which further confirms my thinking that they need to get someone else. I slip up daily. I am ashamed to say I've had a few lingering vices that sometimes rear their ugly head to confront me. After a man falls into a vice he hates himself every time he slips. I think I've totally whipped it, it comes back to test me again.

The only thing that really has kept me going is knowing that worship isn't about me. The second thing is, people always say hypocrites are in the church. Yeah, the perfect people don't seem to need help. It's us messed up people who need God. I don't claim to be clean. Never have. So attend a church as a messed up person alongside a bunch of other messed up people.

In my old way of thinking some self righteous might say I'm "going soft" on my beliefs when it comes to music. But honestly I haven't seen any more of God in most Christian music. It's all bout the heart. I've spent countless Sundays looking into the faces of people who looked like they didn't want to worship or be in church. So many come I think because they think it is somehow pacifying God. It's tough to get audience participation in a church. Many churches think it's the team's job to play and sing while they stand there unconnected watching a projection of the words.

I'm all about things that actually work. If your religion or church isn't working for you get the heck out. Go somewhere that you like to be.Be who you want to be. Yes there is responsibility and a commitment to being Christian. It isn't like you say a prayer and the rest is up to God. Being that person means it won't always be easy.

I think we can be who we are playing almost any kind of music in almost any kind of place and still be Christian, so long as we don't compromise the truth. I play in bars. I play in church. I don't feel bad playing in either one. 

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Pete_Violin
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May 21, 2019 - 4:19 pm
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Thank you @starise 

I believe that when you bring people joy through your playing, whether religious or not, it is a spiritual experience.

- Pete -

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Mimi Aysha
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May 22, 2019 - 1:54 am
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I never thought about it from a christian point of view, listened to my husband belt out a country song about being drunk and leaving the wife etc, and in church he knows all the word to every hymn ever written!

Been in church myself for much of my life, christian school etc. and definitely not perfect (none of us are!) Raised all my kids in church (couple of them turned out OK) ...

Gone are the old days where we had our song books and had to sing along to a gazillion verses, thank goodness, I was never allowed admittance into the choir (for good reason) But I have to say it was kinda boring, and the "specials" done by random families, wow, they were painful.

But ...we moved church a while ago (our pastor retired, he was about 100) and I just love the music, they change out the singers every week, I guess they have a huge choir and rotate about 6-8 singers on stage, and its kinda awesome. 

My husband offered me up to play the violin (almost ended in divorce!) I ran. They all seem so much more professional than where we came from, I have a new respect for the time and effort they must put into practicing.

I've never played at church, but I may play in a bar, if Lornas husband (he has a band) ever lets us on stage!

Would love for my playing to bring joy to someone...might be a while! In the meantime I'll go listen and praise him on sundays!

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Gordon Shumway
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May 22, 2019 - 5:20 am
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It's not just about Christianity. John McLaughlin rationalised in the same way when he became a Hindu. I should imagine Yusuf Islam thinks more or less the same way. Arguably Nichelle Nichols' concern about playing Uhuru in Star Trek was the same search for integrity.

Andrew

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starise
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May 22, 2019 - 1:04 pm
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@Pete_Violin great thoughts there. 

@mimi glad to meet you here and thanks for sharing. I hope you get to play the violin in church. I'm sure you've probably read the parable about the talents.I thought hard on that one recently. Church is a great place to play too!

Our church seems to have a good mix of people, some are clapping along and really getting into the music. In fact there are a good many that do and we aren't commonly a denomination that has encouraged that. Very informal here. I never wear a suit or tie. We mix up modern and traditional music. One of my greatest challenges is keeping it fresh. Some of that causes  the older members to roll their eyes and hold their ears while the younger crowd loves it. Surprisingly though a lot of the older members also like the new music. I have found a few both old and new songs that have a groove. I'm getting into "old"territory myself. I live in self denial, but yeah, I'm old. When you have grandkids and young people hold the door for you, you know you're old.

I like lots of different music. I do place a special priority on "worship" music. It isn't like the other music given the purpose it is intended for. If I didn't do that, I don't think I should be trying to lead it, know what I mean?  The music itself is often not complicated music.

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starise
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May 22, 2019 - 1:13 pm
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Gordon Shumway said
It's not just about Christianity. John McLaughlin rationalised in the same way when he became a Hindu. I should imagine Yusuf Islam thinks more or less the same way. Arguably Nichelle Nichols' concern about playing Uhuru in Star Trek was the same search for integrity.

  

You seem to be much more up on these other religions than I am Gordon.Thanks for this info. Not sure how deep we can or want to get into religion itself here. 

Simple integrity for me is being truthful in admitting If my perfection depended on me entirely I would be up the proverbial creek without a paddle.

I'll take a sail boat with a nice diesel engine in it over that any day.

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Mimi Aysha
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May 22, 2019 - 1:56 pm
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You too sweet and funny Starise! - I believe your passion and dedication shows in your leading all these years, its a great spirit and wonderful talent you have for sure. Not easy switching it up and keeping it enjoyable.

We had tried another church where it was the same band every week, with strobe and flashing lights, they had just released a cd, oh boy, drama, swinging their arms around, kneeling on the floor, you couldn't actually hear any of the words. Loud to a point it hurt your ears, too dark to see anyone - we moved along pretty quick!...too old for all that...and I need my eardrums.

The guy that greeted us at the door said, please try to get past the music because the preacher is really good! ...dazed 

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JiminTexas
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May 24, 2019 - 12:56 am
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In a former life, way back when I was a young man, I played a lot of bluegrass music. That genre includes a vast library that we simply called "gospel". Even today many, if not most, muti-day bluegrass festivals dedicate Sunday mornings to gospel. I encourage you to look into it, as it was the genesis of bluegrass. Bluegrass grew out of a fusion of the hymns sung from hymnals with "shaped notes", and the fiddle tunes and folk music of the largely Scotts/Irish heritage of the Appalachian populace. When you get an urge to experience some truly earthy music, give bluegrass and bluegrass gospel, especially the old time favorites, a listen and be prepared to be surprised by the skillful melding of some pretty basic human emotions, done in a simplistic manner as far as the construction and orchestration goes, but with an end result that can be surprisingly sophisticated. This music does a whole lot with just a little material and only a few tools. I truly love old time gospel done in the bluegrass style. 

The search for great technique does not always lead to great music, but the search for great music does always lead to great technique.

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starise
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May 24, 2019 - 9:14 am
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We had tried another church where it was the same band every week, with strobe and flashing lights, they had just released a cd, oh boy, drama, swinging their arms around, kneeling on the floor, you couldn't actually hear any of the words. Loud to a point it hurt your ears, too dark to see anyone - we moved along pretty quick!...too old for all that...and I need my eardrums.

Thanks for those comments Mimi. Different churches sometimes go for different groups of people and often cater their programs for only those people. I'm sure I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. Just thinking out loud. I'm not going to slam my brothers for trying that if that's what they feel they should be doing. I attended a portable church for a few years, led the worship there. We set up everything each week in a rented space. The pastor was going for the yuppie or the young professional. Our selections were based on the most current music out there and basically a presentation that darkened the lights during worship. We were on stage like a rock band. Long story short, it didn't work there. The church eventually shut down. It was a satellite church and being financially carried by the big church. It was a sad thing to see. I wasn't really on board personally with the idea to only go for a certain type of person. Where I am now I pick music that includes everyone. Young, old, and all in between. We watch our sound mix very carefully. Even with a good PA balance some people occasionally say it's too loud.

What are you gonna do? We have a drummer playing acoustic drums. spike-1268

JiminTexas, Thank you for those suggestions. I have been trying to integrate some of that where I am. I've played the violin there a few times. The church I'm in now is beginning to build the next generation of members. The older members are very much into the old style bluegrass and I cover a few of those tunes or similar on piano most weeks. There's also the new/old music where we update an old hymn with a more recent arrangement that sounds similar but more current. That seems to work well. At one time it was all nothing but hymns from a book. Our pastor has said he never wants to go back to that. The way the music was previously done before I came there sucked the life right out of the music. It can be done differently, more lively and loose. Not mechanical.

I want to get more of those old tunes into the program though. I tend to work things in slowly there. I've been there for quite awhile now, so if you look at where we were and where we are now it's a huge difference. We have some of the most recent stuff along with old familiar music. Surprisingly the whole group has liked it this way. Thanks!

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Leaviathan
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July 3, 2019 - 8:14 pm
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I'm on my churches worship and technical teams, we're an ultra modern 1,000 seat auditorium built as a church. Great everything!

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