Quick & Easy Instrumental Music
by Don Chapman
Even the most contemporary church needs moments of transcendence. You know, quiet times of musical reflection for communion, holidays and other special services. At these times, it's good to use other instruments for variety besides guitars and drums. Here's an easy way to incorporate strings, woodwinds and brass even if you don't have much experience with orchestral instruments.
To pull off a quick instrumental ensemble, you'll need to invest in hymnal orchestrations for your instrumentalists. The best I've found are the orchestrations for Word/Integrity's Celebration Hymnal. I have a few string players and an occasional trumpet and flute, so I've purchased a string reduction book (I'll have someone play a synth string patch with my violinist and cellist to fill out the sound), and flute and trumpet books. You can order each book for about $60 from your local Christian bookstore. Take a look at the Celebration Hymnal website for a list of available instrumental books:
You'll also need to purchase a large three ring binder for each book, as you'll just receive the sheet music wrapped in plastic. Take the music with you to the office supply store to make sure you get a big enough notebook -- you'll probably need one that's at least three or four inches wide.
Use variety to spice up the traditional hymn arrangements. Have the flutist play the melody for the first verse, add strings for the second verse, and have everyone play their part for the third verse (each arrangement has the melody line as well as a creative accompaniment part.) Experiment and have fun. Of course, a clever keyboardist can add additional flavor to the simple four parts (there's also an Accompaniment/Rhythm/Guitar Edition.)
The hymnal has several worship medleys, complete with interludes, for many different service themes. I'll use these medleys for our Christmas Eve service -- for prelude, postlude and to accompany the congregational singing. Try using the medleys for holiday and communion services.
Even though the orchestrations are playable by novice musicians, for best and fastest results use players who can master the parts in one rehearsal. With small ensembles, just one weak player will drag down the entire group.
>Bottom Line: Use easy instrumental arrangements from the Celebration Hymnal for special services.