Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Energy and Music

Music is important to me. I would not consider it a driving passion as it is with many, however, I enjoy both listening and performing music.

I like many kinds of music. It often depends upon my mood.

I also enjoy silence, or the "music" of nature. Yesterday, I ate lunch at the park. The birds sang continuously.

I'm not one that must listen to music constantly. I don't go around with an iPod and headphones. Nor do I constantly play CD's or the radio as I drive -- and I drive a lot.

I am very particular about music. I like for it to be well executed. However, in a live performance, I do not expect perfection -- which brings me to the reason that I am creating this post.

Music in church.

There are two basic styles of worship music. There is Choral and there is Praise and Worship. I enjoy both when executed well. Therein is the issue.

What does it mean for music to be well-executed in a live performance? To me it is a combination of factors but the underlying strength of the performance resides in "heart." If the performer doesn't put their heart into the music it will lack energy -- even if executed flawlessly.

Our church choir generally puts a lot of heart into its performance -- especially the choir special or a special performance. There is a wide variety of levels of talent within the choir -- from exceptionally gifted to "nothing but heart." The thing that sets the choir apart however, is heart. Each of the individuals come together in a common concert of worship as they pour their hearts into the music -- not the performance. With rare exception, the performances generate energy. It is the result of each one pouring his heart into the musical offering. It is the product of the emotion.

Our Praise Team on the other hand is blessed with very gifted musicians. Each one does an exceptional job of executing the music. Therein lies a problem. When each of these gifted musicians performs on the "team" they are performing individually and concurrently. A couple of them put a measure of "heart" into their performance but they often are each "performing" individually and not pouring their heart into a worship experience. The result is often one in which it feels as though energy is being "sucked" out of the congregation. It becomes a draining experience rather than one in which we are energized.

Now I must clarify somewhat. The musicians playing instruments come together as a Team. The problem lies in the vocals. They each perform wonderfully -- but NOT as a Team. They are performing as individuals.

If any of those individuals should read this, I pray that it will be accepted not as a criticism of their skills, talents or performance. It is an offering from my heart of a desire for them to experience the power of worship as a team -- the power of worship as the body of Christ. When that happens in corporate worship the result is an amazing, energizing experience.


i beati said...

I have actually witnessed this in visiting churches. sometimes a tiny choir will sing mightily with heart!!

Chris McClure aka Panhandle Poet said...

As an anonymous commenter on the next post stated, worship is an individual experience. It is between each of us and God. The "worship" service does have an impact on an individual's ability to worship.

This post is not meant to contrast between Praise and Worship style versus Choral style music. I enjoy both as well as blended. It is not about the Worship Style Wars. It is about a disharmony that affects the ability of many to worship individually.

It is like any disharmony in a church. It detracts from the purpose.

The post is meant to be a personal evaluation of a specific situation -- not a condemnation of anyone or anything in general. It is not meant to be judgmental. It is meant to be analytical. When there is an issue, the best approach is to analyze, evaluate and then confront.