- We have more time to spend with the music. Music makers are, by definition, music fans. We listen to music, breath music, dream about music. It is not unusual, or even uncomfortable, for me to listen to a song on repeat several times in a row. Most listeners don't like that.
- We speak the language of music more readily. Just like it's easier to memorize a phrase in a language you speak and understand, so it is with music. I can listen to a phrase, or look at a chart, and understand the "syntax" of what's happening, and it makes sense to me. It may be a new song, but the progression may be familiar. A causal listener might not make that connection.
- There's some kind of eerie right-brain/left-brain thing happening. Your left-brain is reading this and doesn't get it. Neither does mine. But it's there.
We also noticed that more members were squinting at the screen and not really worshipping. They were concentrating on reading the lyrics and not feeling the words. And this was happening far too often.
So we made a couple of choices. The first was an embargo on all new music for the first six months of the year. This has been tough. I've heard some cool stuff I'd love to do in the last five months. So have the others. The other choice was to pare the catalogue down to fifty songs. That was really hard. We divided the list up into "fast" "moderate" and "slow." We each then listed our top song in each category. (Truth be told, most of us listed two or three. We breathe music, remember?) Those selections were the basis of the master list.
We have, for years, rotated the responsibility of song selection among the team. Each member does two weeks in a row, two or three times a year. This gives everyone the opportunity to hear from God and to put "their" touch on a service. It works really well. Being constrained to fifty songs was tough at first. "What about this one?" or "This should be on the list!" was often heard. So there are a couple of "outs." The first "out" is the offering songs. We play two songs during offering time. These songs are not limited to The List. So the song-picker can bust out with "As David Did" or "Blow the Trumpet in Zion" as they see fit.
The second "out" is the altar call. We generally don't pre-plan this - it either flows from the message, or the preacher asks for something specific.
This whole process has had it's ups and downs. Ups:
- The congregation is more focused on worshipping instead of reading
- The songs are more familiar, hence more connection
- We are better prepared to do a song "on the fly."
- No more old, lame songs no one likes anyway.
- No stinkin' music stands.
- We (the team) more easily gets bored with some songs.
- Some congregants tell us "You played that song last week!"
- There's some hot new music out there we need to do!
We'll see how things go come July, when the self-imposed "ban" is lifted. We will probably go slow - maybe one new song a month, something like that. (We usually use the 2-1-1 method; two weeks on, one week off, one week on.) Can't wait!