Ideas to Energize Rehearsal for Older Elementary/Middle School Age
Question of the Day - A student gets to say "stop" at an appointed time during rehearsal when we ask the "Question of the Day," which is in a sealed envelope. Questions are fun and simple, such as, "What is your favorite ice cream?" or "What was your favorite Christmas gift?" A fun way to build community and energize rehearsal. The students love being the one who says, "Stop!"
Energized Introductions - Let students count the measures of introduction before their first entrance in rehearsal. A crisp "1 ... 2 ... 3 ... 4" as the piano plays energizes anticipation for the first sung notes.
Training Future Leaders - Be on the lookout for college students and young adults to join in leadership. They will bring energy, enthusiasm and new ideas. Most importantly, they will build lasting relationship within the church family.
Circles - When working on music with more than one part, rehearse with each part in a circle. Young people who love sports particularly like the concept of "time to huddle."
Concentric Circles - As each part gains confidence, challenge one part to make a circle surrounding another part. A fun way to build independence/confidence in part singing.
Director of Music Ministries
Christ Church United Methodist Church
As you read this in November, you are likely focused on Advent and Christmas. Since our choirs often have a week off after Christmas, there is a need for a few simpler, but appropriate, anthems for Christmastide and Epiphany. Here are a few suggestions:
When Jesus Came to Jordan,United Methodist Hymnal #252. Verse 1 all in unison; Verse 2 basses and altos sing first 2 lines, sopranos and tenors sing last 2 lines; Verse 3 basses and altos sing ostinato using words “Holy Spirit” (do do mi sol) for two measures, then add sopranos and tenors on melody over ostinato (Do not use written accompaniment). Add handbells on d pentatonic (d, e, f#, a, b) to random ring wherever the spirit moves you!
Arise, Shine for Your Light Has Come by Allen Pote, SATB, pub. Theodore Presser Co. #392-41548.
Covenant Prayer, from Worship and Song #3115. Words by John Wesley, music by Jay D. Locklear and Adam Seate.
Walk in the Light, Traditional, arr. André Thomas, SATB, pub. Choristers Guild #CGA1063.
Carol of the Epiphany, from The Faith We Sing #2094. Use three soloists, perhaps positioned around the sanctuary. Coordinate with a media artist to select some appropriate slides to use with the various verses. Insert a two-measure interlude between the verses, and as an instrumental tag after verse five.
Unleash your own creativity to create anthems from the hymns and songs available to us in our hymnals and songbooks.
It’s hard to believe that Advent is just around the corner. Here are a few resources to help lead your congregation in this time of waiting and anticipation.
O Come, O Come Emmanuel – arranged by David Crowder. Writer(s): Jeremy Bush, Mike Hogan, Mark Waldrop, Jack Parker, David Crowder, Mike Dodson. Click here (WorshipTogether.com) to hear an audio recording by David Crowder.
Click here (Worship.Calvin.edu) for several resources on visuals for Advent. You will find a compiled search from the Calvin Institute. Great resource for visuals.
Follow The Light – a song of seeking and waiting. Could be used as a solo or taught to your congregation. Click here (WorshipTogether.com) for a recording and music.
Messiah performed by Kari Jobe. Here is another great resource for waiting and preparing! Could be used toward the end of Advent or Christmas Eve. Click here (WorshipTogether.com) for a recording and music.
While We Wait: Living the Questions of Advent is great for a devotional time with your praise/worship team. It is published by Upper Room Books and Mary Lou Redding is the author. Click here (Amazon.com) to take a look at the book.
Organize a handbell reading session at your church. Invite other directors in the area to participate. Contact a music dealer or some of the publishing companies to help supply your reading session with samples of the new music coming out. This will give you and your colleagues a peek into what is coming out for the season.
Sometimes we don’t have enough ringers to complete a 2 or even 3 octave choir. Look at your ringers’ abilities and decide whether they could be used as a soloist, duet, or small ensemble. There is a lot of music written for these groups. This will also give your handbell choir and congregation a little variety.
Keep the ringing techniques of your ringers sharp. Engage them in a ringers’ workshop once a year to hone their skills. You can bring in a clinician or conduct the workshop yourself. Invite others from the congregation and surrounding area to participate.
Invite a neighboring handbell choir to give a concert in your church. This is a great idea for a fundraiser for your bell choir.
To peak the interest of children, give a demonstration during their children’s choir time. This gives them a chance to have a hands-on experience.
Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat and my pocketbook is lean… With the Advent/Christmas Season coming up, here are a few “standards” in instrumental versions for the season. The website free-scores.com is an interesting one – lots of trash but some treasures for your instrumental folks.
Christmas Carols for Flute and Piano - This is a wonderful set of sixteen carols of various European traditions, arranged and posted by the arranger; written for flute and piano solo, and sequenced to follow the story from Advent through St. Stephen’s Day (Dec. 26th).
This is the “Ave Maria” (Op. 11) of Güttler, arranged for trumpet and piano by Mike Magatagan. Of moderate difficulty, playable by a good high school or college player.
The standard “O Holy Night” by Adam for clarinet and piano. No more to be said.
Instrumental Solotrax Christmas, arr. Ed Hogan, Pub. By Lillenas (available for Flute/violin, trumpet, trombone/cello, alto sax/French horn & piano acc./cd acc.). 10 standards, including The Birthday of a King. A little pricey (at $24.99 a book) but very useable. Click here for the link to the trombone book (JWPepper.com).
And now for something completely different: Carols for Guitar (GuitarCommand.com), a 33-page ebook (pdf) of TAB and notation for purchase and download (£4.97, approximately $8) of easy-to-moderate guitar arrangements of standard Christmas carols – for solo or accompanying voices.
Instrumental Music Interest Area Chair
St. Luke-Simpson UMC
Lake Charles, LA
A way to enhance the worship service is to transform any hymn tune into a short chorale prelude.
Change registrations. Explore the families of sounds of the organ (principals, flutes, reeds and strings); try various instrumentations by phrase, half verse, or full verse. It is even possible to play a verse on the celeste, harp or chimes stop only.
Change chords. This requires a bit of music theory; however, one easy method is to alter the tonic chords by changing them to minor 3rd or minor 6th chords. (For example: a tonic C chord could become an E minor or A minor chord). Remember it is not necessary to change every tonic chord; just two or three will be enough.
Explore 2:1 counterpoint. Play two notes against every melody note. Scalar patterns are most effective for this, but do not hesitate to be creative.
Make the tenor line your solo. Play the tenor line on a reed stop (possibly oboe) as a solo on one manual while playing the soprano and alto on a subsidiary manual. Pedal can be added if desired.
Improvise responses to each phrase. Yes, there is that scary word “improvise” again! However, this really can be quite fun. Most standard hymns have four phrases. The concept is to play one phrase and then play a response to the phrase by repeating the phrase and changing a few chords, harmonies, or embellishing the melodic theme.
Director of Worship and Music
Beulah Presbyterian Church
December (and therefore Advent and Christmas) is right around the corner! Hopefully, you aren’t waiting to start Advent planning until now, but even if you’re all set, it is helpful to consider how you are preparing your congregation for Christ’s coming. Here are a few things to be thinking through leading up to Advent:
What are your church’s practices in Advent? Are customs like an Advent wreath or calendar part of your worship?
Advent can be a tricky time for worship when the congregation is ready for “Silent Night” on December 1. What is your congregation’s understanding of Advent? Do they need deeper education on the purpose of Advent? Where is the balance between resisting the rush to Christmas and giving people opportunities to worship freely with familiar hymns?
What less obvious pastoral concerns do you need to be aware of around the holidays in worship and preaching? How can your church create space within a season characterized by joy for those who may be experiencing loss, loneliness or grief? Consider holding a Longest Night/Blue Christmas service (service ideas here at GBOD.org), including a Service of Word and Table for such an occasion (see this service here at GBOD.org).
How does the potential for visitors and newcomers during the holidays affect your preaching and worship? How are you balancing the need to speak to your regular congregants as well as out-of-town family members and people who may come to church only around Christmas?
Advent marks the beginning of a new church year. Are there ways in which your congregation needs a fresh start? How might the new church year offer an opportunity for renewed vision for your congregation?
Sarah S. Howell
Assistant Minister of Worship and Young Adults
Centenary United Methodist Church
When facing the storms of life, creativity can be a healing gift. Make something new out of what's been left behind! Whether you’ve endured a thunderstorm, a hurricane, a tornado, a windstorm, an earthquake, or even a simple rainstorm, let creativity help you find the gift of renewal and new beginnings. Similarly, when facing the spiritual storms that seem to destroy our hope, use these exercises to discover signs of new life emerging from difficult times.
When it is safe, go outside and gather up leaves, branches and other elements that were blown or dislodged during the storm. Pray for the life that once grew and is now broken apart.
Create a collage with these elements on poster board or cardstock.
Imagine God's ability to renew as you pray and create. Quietly reflect on images of new life and new beginnings even in the midst of stormy remains.
Pray for renewal for those affected by the storm, and for those in the midst of the storms of life.
What do you notice as your collage comes together? Journal or write a letter to a friend describing your new discoveries.
Rev. Meredith Vanderminden
Executive Director, Art Divina
Pastor of Spiritual Formation and Artist-in-Residence
Queensbury United Methodist Church
Visuals are not always limited to that which we place in the chancel or on the sanctuary walls. Increasingly, screen visuals are used as a visual arts ministry. Explore pictures, movies, and video clips that are online to integrate with the message or theme for worship each season or each week. Great sites include:
Be careful about licensing requirements, using a film license like CVLI when necessary, using copyright-released images available through Creative Commons, or limiting your images to those you and other church members have created or photographed. Familiar faces and “real” pictures are always best!
Claremont School of Theology
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