Practical Help, Part 3 – My Wednesdays

Okay…so today is not Thursday, it’s Friday. I’ll explain more later. Yesterday, I should have posted on what my Wednesdays look like…so that will be the topic of this post. Two days ago, I posted on the average Tuesday in my schedule.

Wednesday is usually my busiest day of the week – including Sundays. Any of you music ministers that have Sunday be your busiest day, I implore you to try to work out something different. God calls us to have a Sabbath, based on His example in the first few verses of Genesis 2. Now I understand that we still have to “work” on Sundays, but that should be as stress-free and “un-work-like” as possible. Remember that we should come to God as worshipers, as His children, before we come to Him as worship leaders.

So, back to Wednesdays…I normally come in to the office a little later on Wednesdays since I am here until about 9 pm in the evening. If your church will allow you, this is a great help to your sanity. But this past week, I just began a new opportunity on my Wednesday morning – continuing every Wednesday. The local band director asked me to come and help with his low-brass section. Since I have almost 20 years of playing a low-brass instrument, not to mention many band camp leadership opportunities over the years, this was a no-brainer for possible ministry to the High School Band. I will do that from 8 to 9:30 am every Wednesday and on most Fridays as well.

I would normally come in to the office at noon. From that point, I go over the evening’s worship service plans and make sure I have all my music together, practice anything I need to practice, and think through logistics of getting up to the stage, who does welcome and offertory times, any prayer time leaders, computer and sound system notes, etc…just anything that could potentially cause any sort of logistical traffic jam or awkward and unplanned silence (sometimes planned silence speaks louder than any song could).

Of course, being an email-centric ministry in how I communicate, I spend some time writing and answering emails.

Probably the biggest chunk of my normal Wednesday is choir prep. I spend a few hours trying to organize my choir rehearsal. Those of you that don’t understand church choir and its role in worship leadership may not understand how difficult it is to bring it all together. Your average school choir (High School or College) spends an hour or so every day of the week for a whole semester on maybe 12 to 15 songs (in preparation for their semester concert). As a result, your average 16 week semester, with 4 hours a week (taking into account various conflicts throughout the semester), those 15 anthems get about 4 hours worth of work on each anthem (on average). In a church choir, we prepare about the same number of anthems in a 16 week period in 1 hour a week rehearsals. And those anthems have to be ready in 1 week increments. While preparing those anthems for weekly service usage, we are also normally working on a cantata of some sort (Easter or Christmas Musicals and the like). Each of those cantatas contain about 10 to 12 pieces. This totals approximately 28 pieces in a 16 week time frame. This equals about 30 minutes of rehearsal per piece. This also means we must work on a multitude of pieces in every rehearsal to be looking ahead…normally around 6 pieces per rehearsal.

So, what I must do in rehearsal planning is decide how best to use our hour that evening. In doing so, I must always continue to remember and understand what pieces we have worked and what pieces remain to be worked. For me, it works best to take each piece in sections…work verse 1 this week, the chorus next week, verse 2 the following week, the ending the next week, etc. So knowing which parts of any given anthem have been worked is also to be considered. As you can see, without proper care and maintenance, this plan of attack could fail miserably in its confusion.

On top of my responsibility to be prepared for these rehearsals, I also have to deal with volunteers who may or may not come based on their sicknesses, job responsibilities, family issues, etc. When you miss one rehearsal, we may never have the time to cover those particular sections of those particular anthems again. On top of that, with only one rehearsal for one hour every week, the average volunteer choir has a tremendous difficulty remembering these musical teachings from week to week. No offence to anyone in my current ministry, they do a great job with this, but you can see the constant uphill battle, every week, every month, every year. I read this and wonder why I love it so much 🙂

So, that’s what happens during the work day on Wednesdays. Around 4:30 or so, I leave to get something for dinner and to separate myself from the church for a mental moment or two. I’m back at 5:30 for a rehearsal with my awesome praise band. We have a worship service at 6:30 and a really great choir comes together for rehearsal at 7:30 (more often 7:40). We dismiss around 8:45 and I finally get home around 9.

That’s an average Wednesday. Having fun yet?

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One Response

  1. You are so correct in your observations that the “average Joe congregation member” (I hate using that term, since my name is Joe) has no idea how much prayer, time and effort go into the planning and execution of an effective worship service. I once had a choir member comment to me, when I was telling her what I did (I’m an organist, btw), “that’s a lot of work.” Sure it’s work, but it’s a labor of love. I liked your comment that sometimes you wonder why you love it so much. I feel the same sometimes. I just want to give a word of encouragement to you, and other worship planners and leaders who might read this: keep on working. You (we) are doing all it for the glory of God. and I fully believe we should not offer to God that which costs us nothing. Thanks.

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