TUNE UP worship band gathering recap

Coaching for Bands 1aOn Saturday, August 10, 2013, the first TUNE UP worship band gathering was held. Over 125 contemporary worship musicians and sound techs assembled on the campus of Faith Lutheran Church in Bellaire, TX (Houston) for a day of learning, growing, and networking. The event was organized by the Worship Excellence Team of the TX-LA Gulf Coast Synod (ELCA) to provide training in the fundamentals of music and worship.

The group that gathered represented 28 congregations including Lutheran, Nazarene, Episcopal, and Non-Denominational churches. Churches from as far away as Austin, TX and Chalmette, LA brought musicians to attend the event.

The schedule included times of worship, instrumental/vocal tracks, and conceptual tracks. A team of track leaders with main speaker Bishop Mike Rinehart led worship. The instrumental tracks were divided by specific instrument (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass guitar, keyboard, drums, vocals, sound tech). Each group gathered together for training and instruction specific to that instrument. Conceptual track offerings included sessions on arranging songs for worship, choosing songs for worship, and principles for worship. Additionally, a “Coaching for Bands” track was offered in which two church bands received feedback and help with their music from a panel of track leaders.

1167394_1402084233343388_1413482869_oOne attendee commented, “It’s nice to attend an event where you get something you can actually use.” Another said, “Thanks for doing this. It helped to refocus me on being a lead worshipper instead of a lead guitarist.”

An overwhelming amount of positive responses suggest that we will likely offer the event again in the future. Watch the event website for details: TuneUpGathering.org.

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Spin the Black Circle

I gave myself a personal home project deadline. I wanted to fix a 1969 Zenith Z922M turntable console by Christmas so I could listen to Willie Nelson’s Christmas LP “Pretty Paper” that I bought on vinyl earlier in the year. This turntable console is special because it was from my grandmother’s house. They bought it new in 1969. I remember listening to albums on it at her house when I was a kid. The original catalog advertisement is still inside:

The turntable wasn’t working when I got it. Not sure how long it has been since it worked. It also has an am/fm tuner which works. I assumed the main reason the turntable wasn’t working was due to the 42 year old lubrication in the mechanism. The amp in this thing is solid state and the turntable is heavy duty – meant to last forever. Today I proceeded to remove the back panel and look inside:

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After fiddling with the turntable I grabbed a can of WD-40 and gave the mechanism underneath the turntable a good spray. I was hoping it would loosen any parts that were locked and maybe lubricate the motor enough to make the table spin again. I powered it up and gave the table a little push to help it get started. After a few tries it started working. I found Willie’s Christmas vinyl and soaked it up. Now I’m looking forward to enjoying the rest of my vinyl collection. The console needs some more repairs to fully restore it – only one of the woofers is working and I’m not sure the changer arm works properly.

 

"In My Heart There Rings a Melody" can be cool too.

So on the twitter, this guy David says, “What are your best tips for young worship leaders leading an older congregation?” This immediately made me give a knee jerk response: “ask older folks what songs they like; learn them; sing them.” This is an important lesson I’ve learned. So the rest goes like this:

David: what if they recommend songs that are nearly impossible to do? Just too old & too irrelevant?
Me: you’re joking right? If it’s old it’s not irrelevant. Try reading the psalms to start. If music is difficult, try practicing.
David: i was referring to a song like “in my heart there rings a melody” something that wouldn’t connect with the majority.
Me: that’s a cool song. It sounds like a challenge to make it cool to me. I’m gonna work on a recording to prove ya wrong…

And that led me to this little rough draft…

In My Heart There Rings a Melody

Don’t be fooled kids – hymns can be cool. If they’re not cool, it says less about the hymn and more about your creativity.

Audio Mix Pyramid

From Technologies for Worship Magazine:
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Look at the Mix Pyramid. Notice that the top or focal point of the pyramid is the lead vocal. The lead vocal or soloist must always be on top and be able to be understood by someone who does not already know the words to the song. Just under the lead vocals come the backing vocals or choir. They are the first layer of support, and they too need to be audible as a distinct musical element that helps convey the message of the song.

Beneath the vocals come the instruments that provide fill and color. These add musical interest and highlights, and in fact may be the most prominent portions of the mix when the vocalists are not singing. Instruments might include Lead Guitar, Synthesizer, Brass, and/or Percussion. These instruments will often lead between vocal lines or during instrumental breaks and may need a bit of help from the Mix Musician to make sure their parts are heard when needed.

The primary bed of chords that form the harmonies under the lead parts of the music are often laid down by instruments such as rhythm guitar, piano and/or electronic keyboards. These instruments should be audible but never dominant in the mix.

Lastly low frequency instruments add foundation and weight to the music. These include drums, bass guitar, organ pedals, and the low end of electronic keyboard instruments. While almost never dominant in the mix, if they are not given their proper place and balance in the mix, the music will sound thin and will lack much of its grandeur.

Switching to IEMs

From Technologies for Worship Magazine

Your church buys its first in-ear system to replace the WL’s front/center wedge. The tech removes the wedge, and routes the WL’s monitor signal into the new IEM system. At sound check, the WL puts his earphones in and starts to sing and/or play. He promptly says “my mix is different!” The tech responds “nope, it’s the same mix you’ve always had”. Who’s right?

They both are. Remember that with the wedge, the WL heard the monitor signal AND his acoustic surroundings as a total package. Now that his ears are essentially plugged by earphones, he hears only the monitor signal provided, and DOES NOT hear his acoustic surroundings. He relies 100% on the monitor mix he receives. The tech is sending the same mix as before, in the wedge, but the monitoring experience now sounds totally and understandably different to the WL. For this reason, the transition can be startling and potentially frustrating for new IEM users.