I want to be respectful and thoughtful in these next words, and I realize that I might be wandering into the territories and preferences of other contributors to this book. But as valuable as the instruments and sounds of the typical praise band might be, they often do little to bolster and enhance congregational song in the pure sense of physics and acoustics. They can easily overwhelm to the point where congregations no longer hear themselves sing and end up accompanying the worship band, when the reverse should be true. This does not mean praying for good riddance. That would be evil. Rather, it means that musicians who truly understand the laws of sound, the acoustical congregational voice, and the rigors of instrumental collaboration must make use of their instruments in radically different ways. I attend a church in which the worship band—especially the drummer—understands how delicate and understated their work can be. As a result, there is better singing and less watching than I have observed in so many other churches and colleges around the country. By the same token, organists must be more insightfully trained as to how the instrument is to be played beyond the often boringly slow and tedious sound masses that are enough to put a thunderstorm to sleep.
I long for the time when all instruments together comprise a worship band, where insightful musicians will come to understand the orchestrational aspect of instrumental music. I mean this: A skillful orchestrater understands that all the instruments at his or her disposal do not play all the time—no, not even the drum set. Rather, through sensitivity to the rich variety of musical contexts and, in our case, to the wide-ranging contexts of congregational song, instruments and instrumental combinations are chosen that remain in perpetual ebb and flow, showing sensitive shifts of color and texture based both on the art of musical cation and the nuances of text and context. This is not impossible; it is simply difficult. But what isn’t when it comes to doing things well? (Exploring the Worship Spectrum: 6 Views, 74)