Well, as Marg Simpson said, though not in relation to church music, “Let’s never speak of it again.” It’s a can of worms that, when I got to it, was already open with plenty of opinions in all directions.
The main point of my previous post about church musicians being Tuning Forks was not about how many instruments there are in your church band. Neither was it a call for music to be subsumed to other aspects of church gathered.
It was a call for musician to ensure that God’s gathered people are engaged by the singing, rather than becoming observers of it. One FB commenter was prescient when he said this:
Hmmm, interesting. I hear it and have also experienced it as a lone guitarist. I attributed the increased vocals on those occasions to the novelty of the situation. I wonder though in the long term if it’s like saying I prefer lifting with arms only without engaging the legs back and other muscle groups… Good for a purpose but then it good to re engage the rest of the body again…Maybe it’s a good exercise for a church to do for a while to reset if a balance has been lost.
I think that’s spot on. If I may use a running analogy (and my own unfortunate experience at the moment), when a muscle group stops being used, and balance is lost, injury sets in as the other muscles attempt to compensate for it. So maybe it’s a good barometer to use from time to time.
The test for me is this: If you stripped away the music suddenly from your congregation (as in within a half second), and the voices continued at the level they were at for another minute or so, would there be a coherence, vocal unity and vocal strength to the singing. If so, then, despite the size of the band – or indeed its loudness – the musicians are tuning forks and are encouraging the congregation to tune in. If not, and if indeed many people are just half-singing, or chatting at the back under the noise of the instruments, then the musicians are encouraging the congregation to tune out.
Anyway, as Marg Simpsons said….