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Should Churches Pay Musicians? Mike Abdul, Wole Oni and Various Pastors Share Their Views

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Report By Priscilla, Canada — Hello great people, this week is a special edition and I am so blessed and deeply humbled that these anointed men and woman of God, celebrities and distinguished persons created a space for me in their busy schedules to answer my call.

My choice of guests is a mix of great people attached or linked to gospel music. I’m grateful for the bold and valid responses I got from them even though I got some declines from other guests that felt the topic was too sensitive! But..its okay.

Moving on..The objective of the discussion is to clear the issue on: The place of the Musician in the church; Why some are perceived to be rebellious to their Home Church/Pastors; and if Musicians should be Paid! I do not discredit any church or any individual for doing otherwise.

I have Mike Abdul, Pastor Francis Madojemu, Papa Deolu, Blessing Alli, Anonymous Pastor and Wole Oni. Please enjoy.

MIKE ABDUL

Mike Abdul

He is one of the four powerful voices of the famous and respected Midnight Crew {MNC} known for the widespread song IGWE! Songwriter and producer, the pioneer of the record label- Spaghetti Records.

His music has taken him round the globe and he has made several appearances on videos, featured in singles, and conducted different music workshops.

His latest request for fans to submit their twitter handle to him is quite cool and humbling if you ask me. Here is what he told me…

HIS VIEWS:

Thank you for having me.

The place of the musician in church is vital and needs no ‘wracking’ the head over as worship is to-a-large-extent music driven.

Good music is directly proportional to good congregational worship experience.

Music is the musician’s trade; he definitely should be paid when he renders his service except he chooses to render his service for free.

Whether the musician should be paid is not something to think about, why would anyone not pay for service rendered? Free service is the choice of the labourer, anyone who is forced to render free service is under slavery in the hands of a wicked person or system!

When a musician requires a change of system from the hands of a master who refuses to pay, that musician will simply be perceived as rebellious. SHIKENA!

My reaction: Funny, blunt and straight to the point!

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PASTOR FRANCIS MADOJEMU

Pastor Francis Madojemu

Pastor Francis E Madojemu is a highly respected Teacher; an anointed Preacher, Coordinator of The Bridge Network Ibadan; an Architect,businessman, consultant for ReCLAIM Culture as well as the CEO of NuSTREAMS Concepts.

He is a multi-gifted motivational speaker as well as an educator whose principles on Success and Wealth fly in the face of conventional wisdom. He was the Pastor of The Redeemed Christian Church of God, Jesus Embassy Ibadan till September 2006.

He is the author of Roadmap and Rich Pastor Poor Pastor. A Spiritual father to many music artistes of the gospel. I’ve known him for so long and I love listening to his teachings. An approachable father who responded to my call even with his tight schedule.

If you’ve ever been to Ibadan and did not visit The Bridge Network trust me, you were and still wrong! Here are his thoughts.

HIS THOUGHTS

About the issue of musicians, I think we may be taking a simplistic approach to the challenges they face as well as the Churches they serve in. We must realize that one of the greatest challenges we face is poverty and it drives most people into places they don’t want to go normally line corruption, stealing even armed robbery.

Musicians need to be looked after it’s their profession, the question is how?

By limiting ourselves to simply putting a burden on Churches for payment and as you know many churches struggle even to balance their budget we have shut down other doors.

If you have ever read Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, a Poor Dad where he tells the story as a boy and was given a job in a store by his ‘Rich Dad’ together with Rich Dads actual son. It’s was only when he agreed to work for free did he see possibilities.

“..A job is only a short-term solution to a long-term problem. Most people have only one problem in mind, and its short term. It’s the bills at the end of the month, the Tar Baby. Money now runs their lives. Or should I say the fear and ignorance about money.

So they do as their parents did, get up every day and go work for money. Not having the time to say, is there another way?’ Their emotions now control their thinking, not their heads.”

Keep using your brain, work for free, and soon your mind will show you ways of making money far beyond what I could ever pay you. You will see things that other people never see.

Opportunities right in front of their noses. Most people never see these opportunities because they’re looking for money and security, so that’s all they get. The moment you see one opportunity, I you will see them for the rest of your life.”

Back to the Musicians now, there are other ways to make money for example teaching people to play instruments for a fee, producing their own music for sale, becoming sales representatives for the areas if their specialization or the equipment they love for a Commission…… I could go on and on and I am sure if we put our minds to it other opportunities would become feasible.

However the churches where these musicians are serving should support and create platforms that empower them. Transportation costs and other considerations can be looked at but again I must say these are just simplistic at the moment.

I think both sides need to listen to each other’s needs and aspirations and work together to bridge the gap and find a solution.

It’s a problem that can be solved when we look at thinks from a win-win scenario instead of us against them approach as we are in thus together.

[My reaction: Hummmn! I have to read it again. Too deep.]

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BLESSING ALLI:

Blessing Alli

An anointed powerful vocalist and analyst who is rapidly spreading her wings in different states of the USA and frequents Nigeria often to minister. She sings with a passion and a mission. The devil runs when she mounts any stage! {Check YouTube} Trust me on that one also a member of FECA NETWORK. A very close ally of mine and her views are always respected and valued. Currently working on her EP album

HER VIEWS

The Musicians in church are divided into two major categories.

The Singers and The Psalmists or Instrumentalists, However both categories operate under the Ministry of the tribe of “Levi” otherwise known as The Carriers of God’s presence. God specifically told Moses to separate a tribe that will minister unto Him.

This is where the Musician’s role comes into place, Music is a vital act of worship that the scripture always points out, so the Place of the Musician is to understand the mind of God and communicate it accurately through Music.

The Musician through the direction of the Spirit ushers the people into God’s presence by Ministering unto God Skillfully and Spiritually.

In a typical Nigerian setting, if a musician comes late or does not stay in the choir post during sermon, the person is perceived as being rebellious, in the western world there are other points that can be noted such as appearance, background check, violent nature etc. can make musicians be perceived as rebellious.

First of all, we need to define “Rebellion” in this area before we can tackle why “Musicians” are usually the only targets for rebellion rather than an usher that chews gum during service or a sanctuary keeper that sleeps during the sermon.

On Musicians getting paid, Hummmm! This is usually the sensitive area. Ok, there is the Act and Art of Music especially in Ministry. Some Musicians are into this field full time of which they get their source of living from, while others do it for the love and passion they have while getting paid from outside jobs.

So should Musicians be paid? Absolutely Yes, but it is still dependent on what category they fall in “Full Time or For the Passion…

If you read Numbers 8: 1-23 You will get more insights to this view that the Music Ministers or Levites were instructed by God not to work but fully render service/ Minister to God in the Tent, (I am not saying the music ministers that are working should quit their Jobs unless you are led directly by God)

Another thing we need to consider is we are modelling the “Then” dispensation with “Now” dispensation of which a lot will have to be considered before giving a final response?

Because time will not necessary permit me to shed more light on the Scripture, I suggest you read the book of Numbers for more understanding. God bless.

[My reaction: She always leaves me searching the scriptures.]

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ANONYMOUS PASTOR

He is a respected, popular preacher and a profound teacher in one of the popular Churches in Lagos Nigeria; He breaks down the scriptures that even a child understands!

I was simply touched and humbled when he called me on the phone to say his views on this issue. Pastor, I know you are reading this even though you opted to be anonymous. I want you to know that I have not gotten over your call.

HIS VIEWS
I will rather call them Music ministers who I see as adding to the corporate anointing of the Church. Being remunerated should be a function of services rendered. I don’t think it’s right for me to say “don’t go out for a Gig” when am not compensating them.

They are perceived to be rebellious when they minister in church as well as go out to perform. They are humans with families and responsibilities as well as bills.

Though some churches are not financially able, they should always appreciate, encourage, and motivate ministers for them to be kept in Church.

[My reaction: Very true sir.‎ Hitting the Nail!]

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ADEOLU OGUNNUBI (PAPA DEE}

Papa Dee

Adeolu Ogunnubi fondly called ‘Papa Dee’ is the President of PARACLETOS MINISTERIES INTL (PMI) An HELPs Ministry’ positioned to preserve the NEXT Generation of young people for marital fidelity, leadership capacity development & Community development initiatives…the organization powers the Heart-to-Heart (H2H) monthly forum since 1998.

He also served as the National president of FECA Nigeria as well as the National Coordinator of the FECA FORUM OF SENIOR MEMBERS (Fecafosm) Nigeria. He is called of God to preserve the next generation of leaders.

He is presently a Director in Digits Sounds Solution Ltd, ANTLERKORP NIG LTD and the MD of PAO2 Global services. Happily married to Oreofe and blessed with kids. A mentor and a role model to many. He is an Icon I respect a lot whose home is always opened to all.

Whenever he sets his mind on something he makes sure he sees it to the end, a phenomenal and blunt speaker who cares a lot. He spanks and embraces! (Laughs)‎ I love hearing his views on virtually every topic. Here is why..

HIS VIEWS

Great!
Music is a very powerful tool all throughout the ages in impacting society…
Music enhances our worship life so profoundly that it cannot be over looked…
Musicians or in this case Gospel musicians are therefore extremely very important in the growth of any local assembly…
Musicians help to make God’s praise more glorious…Ps 66:2

Now because they see themselves as very important and because a lot of skills, grace, charisma and talents are involved in the making of a good musician…it is easy to allow that get into one’s head because of the fame, glamor and recognition that comes with it…

Most gospel ministers who cannot handle this well…eventually get rebellious whenever they perceive their worth isn’t being appreciated in their churches…that’s why we see a lot of them moving and changing churches often.. Looking for a church that will pay them more or appreciate them better…This in my opinion is one of the reasons they are perceived as being rebellious to authorities in Churches.

On the issue of paying musicians…. I think it should be primarily based on the financial capacity of the local Assembly…Gospel musicians who are on full time…obviously would need to be paid enough to make them at least comfortable…

But I disagree with Gospel musicians who insist and are motivated by financial rewards alone, before they serve God with their God given talent…

The first motivation is in using your skill to serve God and bring glory to His name and whatever financial incentives that come naturally with it should be accepted with thanksgiving without complaining or grumbling…

Money must never be our motivation as believers…Pleasing Him should be the first thing on our mind…and Gospel musicians are no exceptions…

Finally… Churches should also continue to appreciate their musicians and encourage them to continue the good work by making them as comfortable as they can afford.

[My reaction: Word! Might be hard but very true.]

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WOLE ONI

Wole Oni

An accomplished producer, hit maker. Music lover, synthesizer, programmer, songwriter, arranger and sound engineer. The Multi-International Award Winning Music Producer/Jazz Pianist and CEO/Founder Instinct Productions/WOMP who was humble enough to reply all my incessant BB PINGS {laughs} despite his busy schedule, He was able to share his thoughts on this issue. {Thanks big bro.}

HIS THOUGHTS

First, I will start by explaining who a church musician is: A church musician is a person who sustain the church by providing musical services, especially as a performer of music who plays an instrument.

Also a musician (or instrumentalist) is a person who is talented in making music or performing music creatively, or one who composes, conducts, or performs music.

Musician can specialize in any musical style, and some musicians play in a variety of different styles. Examples of a musician’s possible skills include performing, conducting, singing, composing, arranging and the orchestration of music.

Musicians act as a carrier for a particular message or suggestion.

As I meet and talk with church musicians from all backgrounds, our conversations inevitably turn to some of the difficulties of working in the church. And we usually agree that the root of those problems is less of a musical one than one that is spiritual.

I have tried to zero in on what the spiritual difficulties and challenges are for musicians who work in the church.

The church musician must first understand that our work is also a form of worship.

Secondly, we should develop the mental discipline to concentrate on our job per time, and listen to the sermon during service.

Our major role is to set the tone for an atmosphere of Praise and Worship in God’s presence each time which is probably one of the most spiritually challenging jobs anyone can have.

· Church musicians should be appreciated or encouraged which boils down to being paid or not. However they should not be dependent on the church for survival. They should be creative, versatile and diverse in many ways that money can flow to them.

· Being over-ambitious when you feel you can attain a height without passing through normal procedures can brew up rebellion.

· When there is a mutual agreement and balance between the church musicians and the church itself regarding the values and their views being respected in contributing to the value of the church progress there won’t be any cause for rebellion.

Being Paid is relative and should be an individual’s decision, if your spiritual life is strong and your faith in God is such that you absolutely depend on His sustenance then being paid in a church should be a personal decision.

[My reaction:‎ Point taken. ]

Thanks to all my special guests for clearing the air and for honoring my call. God bless you.

To my readers, I hope you’ve learnt something today. Do watch out for another edition on Thursday – The story of a talented music artist that was abused and………… Stay tuned to Praiseworld radio.

Written and reported by:
Priscilla
@PriscillaPWR

MIDNIGHT CREW SPECIAL RELEASE …. O NBO LONA… ‘ MO DIBO’

Oh! You thought Midnight crew had called music quit as a group? Their new video “Mo Dibo” shows that’s very far from it. From their last released album “Kind Of Nations” comes the official video to the single “Mo Dibo” a yoruba phrase which means “I vote (for Jesus)” in English.

This comes at time when Nigerians are getting ready to go to the polls, as the Presidential elections come up on Saturday, February 14, 2015. The video ended with an inscription “Don’t Sell Your Soul”.

FACE OF THE WEEK…. WORSHIPPER NATHANIEL BASSEY

wpid-10850041_10205233704742225_8096915028818875324_n_2.jpg
Nathaniel Bassey was born in Lagos, Nigeria. He is from Ikot Ofon Ikono, Uyo local government area in Akwa-Ibom state, South-South Nigeria.
His father, Mr E Joshua Bassey, was a minister in The Apostolic Church Bashua Assembly and from an early age he developed a love for both music and the gospel.
He was inspired when He saw Dr Panam Percy Paul, a prominent Nigerian gospel music icon in concert over twenty years ago and since then,.His passion for music has grown and translated.into various musical experiences.In his early years, he developed a rather uncommon interest for jazz music and began listening, imitating and playing to the music of.Louis Armstrong, Miles Davies, Clifford Brown, Charlie Parker, Stan Getz and Kirk Whalum, Phil Driscoll, Hugh Masakela and other Jazz luminaries. His zeal for the Jazz form would later stir him to seek out bands and groups along the Jazz lines. He then joined a top jazz quartet in Lagos, Spectrum 4, where he played alongside his childhood friends.

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About that time Nat, as he is fondly called, was approached by one of the most respectable figures in the Nigerian jazz and music circle, Elder Steve Rhodes to lead, arguably, the first
Jazz Orchestra in the country – THE STEVE RHODES OCHESTRA. He served as band leader and lead trumpet player for a period of two years and later moved on with his music career.
His peculiar and particularly soulful trumpet playing style caught the ears of top Artistes and composers within and outside the country.
Teemac, Ayo Bankole Jr, Cobhams Asuquo, Wole Oni, Yinka Davies, Adlan Cruise, Funsho Ogundipe, Peter King, Sotiris Papadopoulus, Paul Petersen, The French Cultural centre,American International School, are but a few individuals and organisations that have sought his musical ingenuity.

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As time passed, Nathaniel began sensing a deep yearning within. There was more to his music than he thought. He later took time off his numerous mainstream commitments to seek the Lord under the Mentorship and guidance of Late Pastor Eskor Mfon, the former Pastor of The Redeemed Christian Church Of God, City Of David Parish. This decision attracted fierce criticisms from friends, Artistes and colleagues who thought it unthinkable abandoning what was becoming a thriving mainstream music career to serve exclusively at a local church.
As he developed an intimate fellowship with the Holy Spirit, He then realised that music was more than an item to fill a space in time but was a fundamental tool in the praise and worship of the Lord. Soon after, a music ministry was born and for Nathaniel, the main thrust was WORSHIP – Music of heaven – one that ministered exclusively to the Lord and an avenue through which HE related with His people. His trumpet playing coupled with a calm.singing style has since ushered many in concerts,crusades and churches into the presence of the LORD.

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Nathaniel, a graduate of Politics and International Relations at the University of London, also serves as the director of music at the RCCG; The King’s Court. He has attended music courses in and out of the country including the Middlesex University Summer School UK, where he studied popular music and music business. He writes, sings and produces his own music and records with diverse groups of musicians.

Nathaniel’s debut album Elohim was recorded and mixed in Cape Town, South Africa in the year 2008. It has been described as a spiritual and Artistic masterpiece with the hit track “Someone’s knocking at the door” a soft-rock tune currently generating so much interest locally and internationally.

Source : Nathanielbassey org

CONNECT:
Facebook.com/Nathaniel.bassey.7
Twitter @Nathanielblow

www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMiz7kqDXkc

SPECIAL TIPS FOR MUSICIANS

“Don’t piss off the sound man” and other useful tips.

There’s tons of little known important tips and tricks to being hired, called back, and liked in the music community. There are many many more ways to lose the job and never get another chance. Here’s a number of things I’ve learned firsthand that’ll help in any live music venue. Okay, some of them are things I’ve learned from friends, but I left out all the urban legends. Don’t worry though, there’s still lots of entertaining feats of stupidity here.

Don’t piss off the sound man.

A thousand examples come to mind for this, both as a musician and a sound dude. Remember, the sound guy shows up early, goes home late, carries more equipment than the entire band, gets paid less, and has to listen carefully to music no one else will.

I was running sound for a medium-sized public outdoor venue. Thrilled to be running audio for a bunch of top name jazz artists week after week, I got the job because I was cheaper than anyone else. This is always a bad sign. I ran the whole thing, schlepping the whole system in and out myself and trying to keep the performers happy while still providing good front of house. Great gig, great music, no support from the organizer. This guy, who also emceed the shows, knows nothing about sound, jazz or music, though he DOES hold a PhD in jazz history or something. Consequently, he has a tendency to say the wrong thing to performers at odd times and ask for equipment that isn’t there… At the last show, he was thanking the crew, management, artists, when I saw my chance. As he got to, “And I’d like to thank Russ Haines, the sound engineer, without whom…” I killed the mains. The lips keep moving, but no sound comes out. He talks a bit more before noticing, so I miraculously turn the volume back up just as we hear the classic, “[thump, thump] …hey, is this thing on?” which causes the audience to crack up. I thought it was a good-natured non-injurious joke, but I didn’t get hired back the next year…

Don’t shake hands with new band members on stage.

Learned this one from Glen Garrett at Northridge. This sounded useless and stupid when I first heard it, but the better you get, the more calls you get to sit in with folks. Eventually, you’ll start filling in for pit bands or play standards in clubs with people you’ve never rehearsed with. If you read well, any band with a complete book can use you as a sub. Most bands can agree on at least a few sets of standards you can safely sit in on. You can always tell the newbie when he shows up on the bandstand and tries to be polite by introducing himself to the other players by shaking hands. As Glen put it, “This is death onstage.” You can do it verbally, you can do it backstage, but shaking hands where the audience can see it just lets them know you’ve never met the other musicians before. They’ve paid to get in to hear the band, or a “name” performer, and they expect the band to be a unit. Shaking hands lets them know they blew twenty bucks on a group that lets people sit in during a gig. Remember that most people can’t tell the difference between good music and music that looks good. Don’t give them a reason to wonder.

Don’t ask for more guitar in the monitors.

There are plenty of exceptions to this rule if we’re talking about acoustic guitar or direct feeds, but not a full stack in a club. A friend was running sound at a big local club. The band was a full-shred death metal local band with pretentions of getting a contract. They hadn’t played out much but wanted to sound cool and professional at what might’ve been their first big break. Lots of props, lots of amps. As I recall there were at least two or three guitarist with at least full Marshall stacks each, maybe two stacks for the lead. This alone was almost a match for the output of the entire house PA. Being a nice guy, my friend agreed to mic the guitar amps, not because he thought it would be needed but because the band really thought it was necessary. After all, he could just leave the faders down on those channels… or not plug in the cables at the board… They get onstage as the second or third act of the night so there’s no sound check except a few “Check, check” by the lead vocalist. The volume they need is clearly going to be a full “10” from the monitors. As they start up their set with all sorts of feedback issues to contend with, not only does the vocalist need more in the monitors, but the guitarists start saying they can’t hear their guitars. “More guitar in the monitors,” was the call over and over again. Call me narrow minded, but if you’re standing in front of a hot full stack on “11” in a club and you can’t hear it, there’s something seriously wrong with you, not the PA. There’s was so much coming out of the stage that front of house was almost completely off. There’s no way to rescue the sound at that point. Remember, it’s the audience that matters. Trust the sound guy or bring your own.

Don’t touch other people’s equipment without asking.

Most musicians have spent more time touching the instrument they play than wearing underwear. It’s a day in, day out commitment. Grabbing someone’s ax without asking is a violation of personal space. If you don’t like that reasoning, here’s some GOOD reasons: A guy picks up the electric guitar just dropped on the stage only to find out it was dropped because there’s AC going through it. Or how about you make a tweak on the board when the engineer’s not watching to make something “sound better”, when feedback ensues the engineer can’t find the source immediately. Just don’t do it. It’s rude.

Rehearse with your audio engineer.

Ever wonder why amateur and mediocre bands sound boring after a few songs. There’s a good chance part of it is because there’s no one making valid and interesting changes on the mixer. Getting channels up and down at the right place in a song can give the band dynamics. At least it can keep the stage volume down by giving the right instrument focus at the correct time. It also gives you a chance to get “your sound” across to the audience. There’s a Count Basie record mixed live by a guy who didn’t know jazz and hadn’t heard Basie. Count Basie, for you heathens who don’t know, was a jazz big band leader famous for playing very sparsely often with only one or two notes every few bars. The engineer, thinking Basie should be featured because it’s Basie’s band, mixed the whole album with the piano cranked up like a featured soloist. The liner notes try to redeem the album by suggesting the listener really gets a chance to hear what Count Basie is playing all the time. ACK! It’s a big band. Actually I’ve had the same thing occur when I was in a big band and when I was second (or third) engineer for a big band: the House Sound Dude sets up eight mics for the drums, but can’t find one for the tenor soloist… or the alto… or the trumpet. “It’s a trumpet, we’ll hear it. Trumpets are loud.” Arggghhhh…

Listen to the sound man.

You’ve got to hope the Sound Dude is there for a reason. If you’re lucky, he’s got at least a vague clue how to get a decent sound in the venue. Chances are he’s on your side: the better you sound, the better he sounds. Until you piss him off, then all bets are off. He’s likely to have some suggestions that will help get the best sound to the audience. Frequently this may include turning down an instrument. Guitarists often won’t believe in turning down, thinking their sound will be compromised. But most small and medium venues weren’t designed with acoustics in mind. The frequencies that travel well are the low mids and below; the louder you get, the muddier the sound away from the speakers. By paying attention to the sound man, you might be able to avoid the “wall of mud” syndrome. Maybe the stage responds sympathetically if the bass amp is in a certain spot. Maybe the kick drum slaps against the rear wall if pointed in the wrong direction. There’s lots of things you can’t possibly know if you’re onstage. The sound man may be your best friend. Maybe your only friend.

Don’t choke up on the mic unless you really want that sound.

Wrapping your hand around the windscreen of the mic is generally a bad thing. Many amateurs do it because they think it looks cool. I’ve heard some say they do it to hear themselves better. If choking up helps you sound better, you need to get a better monitoring system. What’s really happening is mostly bad. You’re defeating most of the feedback rejection properties of the microphone, making it hard or impossible for the sound dude to maintain the volume -usually he’ll have to turn down to avoid ringing or feedback if you’re running at more than half volume. I feel embarrassed watching vocalists who choke up on a mic for no good reason or who try to control volume by waving the microphone around. Both of these things are good and useful if and only if you’ve practiced them and know how to control the effect. This is hardly ever the case.

Don’t point the mic at the monitor.

A cool counterexample for this rule comes from a time I was shmoozing with the owner of a large pro audio company. We were at a new venue where he was showing me his live audio reinforcement rig (about 5-10kW). Sitting behind an impressive 12×32 monitor matrix board was the stage audio engineer. He looked like he could have been an extra in any of the albino-mountain-freak scenes in Dueling Banjos. Not only were many teeth missing, he also had a big wedge monitor about a foot and a half from his head at full volume to check the monitor channels. During a set break, the owner took me onstage to run a “sound check” -I think he just wanted people to see he was in charge. Grabbing each mic in order, he would take it off the stand, say “check check” a few times to verify it was on (and they were on and LOUD), then he would point the mic directly at appropriate monitor for that singer and push in until it was about two feet away. No feedback. As it got close, you could hear the start of ringing, but the stage mixer would catch it with a 30 band equalizer before it got bad. I was impressed. Not that there’s anything magic about this, it’s just a matter of knowing your system and how acoustics work. Having enough 30 band graphic Eqs for every output channel is useful, too. But all of this assumes your engineer is good and you’ve planned ahead. What usually happens when the band doesn’t have enough room or time to set up is a lot different. Monitors pointing at the front of a microphone are bad. Mains behind microphones are bad. And I can’t even remember the number of times the vocalist is handholding the microphone and relaxes his arms, inadvertantly pointing the mic at a monitor. It’s even worse when the vocalist doesn’t realize where the feedback is coming from. Absolute worst is when the singer doesn’t recognize the sound of feedback…

Don’t ask the audience if they think the (your choice) is too (loud/soft).

“Can you hear me there in the back?” Dumb question. Of course we can’t hear you, that’s why we’re standing as far away as possible. Usually this sort of problem pops up from the primadonna in a band. Or the vocalist… Yes, you should be concerned with your sound, but deal with it professionally. Asking the audience if the lead guitar is too loud just makes you sound whining and petulant. Deal with onstage ego (volume) problems before the gig. Deal with audio problems during the gig by talking with someone who has their hand on a fader. Send a friend into the audience to check the sound if you’re worried. The sound guy is doing his best to make you sound good until you piss him off. Turning the audience against him won’t do you much good.

Don’t gripe on stage.

You’re in the middle of the gig from hell. The guitar player is playing with five strings. The drummer just launched another stick at your head -DUCK!-. And you can’t hear anything but boomy mud. But the audience will probably never know unless you say something to make it obvious. I ran a survey for a series of performances once. With two or three shows every day for a week there was a good variety of quality. On the way out to the bus, I’d ask a bunch of performers not in my act how my show went. The band agreed on the quality of each performance, the reviewers generally agreed on the quality of each performance. But there was little agreement between the band and the reviewers. One show that I thought was absolutely smokin’ was the poorest received by the audience. The only real difference between semi-pro and professional is that you can’t tell when a pro screws up. Keep that stage face on.

Don’t turn to stare at drummer when he screws up, chances are only 2% of the audience noticed.

People are sheep. Sheep don’t know much about music, but they’ll react as a group if you give them a reason. A guy I know collects classical recordings. He’d try to get the first vinyl pressing of everything that came out. He was knowledgable about everything from concert halls to composers. An audiophile, he had plenty invested in his stereo and good arguments for most of the choices he’d made. Then one day I was tuning my guitar in his presence. He wondered what I was doing. So I made a short explanation of pitch and beating which he didn’t understand. To demonstrate, I played one open string then the next higher string asking which one was higher in pitch. He couldn’t tell. After an hour or so of practice, he could answer correctly for most intervals wider than a minor third if they were in the middle of the guitar’s range. I tried moving on to the concept of an octave, but it wasn’t working. He thought this whole “pitch” thing a great game and a real musical ability that he’d gained. He might be right, be twice nothing is still nothing. No one has heard the song as many times as you have, they’re not going to catch even glaring mistakes if you don’t give them a clue. During a solo, a jazz trumpet player friend hit a clunker, stopped, and said, “It’s in the chord! Flat five! Flat five!” It wouldn’t have been a problem except for the fact that most jazz solos don’t have vocal commentary.

Don’t stop a song when you break a string.

If you’re a bass player, there’s no excuse. Work around it. While playing in a hard rock/funk band, my bass playing muscles got so strong I would tend to break a string every three hours. There’s no reason to play this hard. I liked the sound I was getting, but you really don’t need to do this for good tone. Part of the fun was in playing around the broken string until there was a chance to switch. Once I showed up for a paying gig with a three string bass, having forgotten to buy replacements (always carry backups). The performance went fine until the keyboard player noticed and freaked out. Guitarists with a floating whammy bridge may have to stop playing after breaking a string, but don’t stop the song. For safety at “mission critical” gigs, you may want to set the bridge so it rests on the backstop (body) and only goes down. It feels a bit weird, but a broken string won’t throw the whole guitar out of tune. If you absolutely must have a floating bridge, keep in mind that you may be able to play on one or two strings down a fret after a string breaks. Have a backup ready and in tune in any case.

DO use a tuner BEFORE going on stage.

Do you own a tuner? Why not? An obvious amateur or semi-pro answer is that you can tune your instrument just fine without any help. While this is true for everyone but the oboe in a wind ensemble, it’s death for guitarists and bassists. Though your instrument may be in tune with itself, chances are almost one-hundred percent that it’s not going to match the other instruments. Plenty of times I’ve heard someone off-stage getting their axe in perfect tune only to walk onstage and find that it’s way off concert pitch. Worse, I’ve been in many bands where each string player would make the others shut up while they tuned. So what’s your reference pitch if everyone has to be quiet while you tune? There’s a reason orchestras make all that noise while warming up together. Hearing everyone’s pitch-center ensures coherence between instruments. Tune early, tune often. If you run a cable through the tuner to the amp, you can tune while playing. Pull the input to the amp (at the amp) a half-inch out to kill sound between songs for tuning. Being slightly out of tune is a lame way to turn the audience against you.

Make sure that if you use different tuners, they all agree on pitch.

Hard to believe, but tuners may have different ideas of where A 440 is. Most of the crystal driven tuners will be accurate all the time, but older stuff, especially the stroboscopic tuners may vary. Also, make sure the tuner is on A=440 if that’s what you’re using as a reference. Many tuners offer an option of setting the reference anywhere from A=438 to A=446. Some will let you define the reference pitch: be careful of doing this. One of my favorite mistakes is when the guitarist tunes to a keyboard which has been transposed. There was one band I was in where the keyboard player hated playing in F minor. So he’d transpose down a step for E minor. No big deal unless the guitar player bonks on a few piano keys to tune between sets…

MAKE A SET LIST. Don’t waste time between tunes.

Okay, you’ve got a good band. You just smoked the opening tune. Everyone’s out on the dance floor having a good time. You hit the last chord and actually finish together. Then… silence… The audience starts staring at the band. Nothing. “Uhhh, what’s next?” “I dunno, what do you want to do?” The audience starts shuffling around nervously. If this happens more than once, the audience will be afraid to be on the dance floor when the song stops. It feels like being left standing in musical chairs when the music stops. I’ve played in mediocre bands that got great audience response because we never gave the audience time to realize how mediocre the band was: if they’re dancing, it must be good. Conversely, I’ve been in bands where even the set list didn’t prevent long delays between tunes. Maybe the guitarist needed a cigarette, couldn’t find one, bummed one off the rhythm guitarist, finds a lighter, drinks some beer… I don’t care what you sound like if you can’t make music more than half the time you’re onstage. Another way to screw up the performance is to not know who starts the song. This happens amazingly frequently. You’ll know it when the band calls the tune then starts looking around at each other. Maybe you’ll even hear one of the musicians humming the opening phrase to someone. If your band has its act together, the next song should be safe to start as soon as the previous one ends. The drummer shouldn’t have to look around at everyone to get permission to go. Look at the set list BEFORE you finish a song. And while you’re at it, have a backup plan in case you do need to kill time between songs. Be sure that joke you’re saving for an emergency is appropriate to the audience. One vocalist I’ve worked with knows lots of really good jokes, but isn’t safe to let near the mic between songs.

Know who the house manager is and follow his instructions.

Sure it’s “your band”. Maybe you even brought in “your crowd”. But if you can’t keep the house manager happy, you don’t get to come back. Sometimes this is the owner of a club. Sometimes it’s the senior bartender. If you’re lucky it might be the booking agent or talent rep for the venue. Find out ahead of time who’s got the voice of god. Frequently they’ll be so happy you came to talk to them, you can get away with murder. If you can do the subservient act well, you may even get to do more than you want. Free beer, tips, a bonus are all at your fingertips IF you keep checking in with the Official Guy. This is particularly important if you know the Official Guy is often a problem. By pretending to care what he says before and during the show, you may make him think -maybe for the first time in his pathetic little life- that someone is on his side. Even if you’re not going to do exactly what he wants, a little lip service goes a long ways. Changing the EQ on the bass in almost like turning it down… Pointing the guitar amp away from the audience is almost like turning it down… Reaching for a knob and pretending to move it is… You get the idea… One place I played had a problematic person-whose-orifice-must-be-kissed. By keeping in contact with this person throughout the gig, we kept him happy even though we hated his guts and couldn’t agree with anything he said. It turned out he owned the club AND another place we wanted to get booked in.

Don’t keep playing if a fight breaks out in the audience. The management might not notice if you keep playing. Of course, if you play places where they put up chicken wire to protect the band, do whatever you like.

I’ve never really had to make use of this, but it came from a pro who I respect. He was warning about a club I was likely to play for the first time. He explained that management always has a way to bounce problem people and wants to do it as soon as possible to keep the rest of the sheep happy. The band is frequently in the only place to see the whole club at once. A fight will be really obvious in the sudden silence. It also makes it trivial for the staff to get through the rest of the crowd. I was running sound in a club once when a problem patron stumbled out of a brewing fracas. No big deal until he stumbled hard into the boom mic for the saxophonist. The sax player got his horn crammed into his mouth. Which probably didn’t need as much repair as his horn after he litereally drop-kicked it off the stage moments later. Maybe they could have spotted this problem earlier and prevented it. Maybe not.

Know, at least, how each tune starts and ends. Seriously, you may be used to dribbling into a tune and ending when the drummer gets tired. Make sure everyone knows what’s happening.

If you’re mostly a rehearsal band, you may get used to weak starts and fade-outs. Then suddenly, you’re onstage in front of people and you realize just how stupid it sounds live. Even if you do it intentionally, make sure each musician starts with authority and ends with conviction. Trying to pull off a decrescendo to end a song often makes me want to yell, “Live Fade! Live Fade!” just like really hokey tricks in a three-dee movie makes you want to yell, “3-D! 3-D!!!” For a lot of songs, just having someone who will wave an arm to strike the last chord is enough. In jazz, you may want to agree on the end before getting there. There are some standard ways of getting in and out of tunes that can be implicit or agreed to with eye-contact. Find out ahead of time. A good example of a bad way to perform live is frequently seen in amateur vocalists who call a tune and start singing without even get their pitch from the band. Once again, the difference between semi-pro and professional is that you can’t tell when a pro makes a mistake. The beginning and end are the most obvious places to notice obvious blunders. The other obvious place to notice a mistake is the middle, which about covers the subject.

If someone compliments you, say “Thank You”. Don’t say, “You should hear us when we’re playing well” or “Are you kidding? We suck!”

Right or wrong, you’ve got to accept a compliment. It takes extra effort for someone to say something nice to the band, whether it’s deserved or not. Be being polite and appreciative you’ll fool them into thinking you’re twice as good. Thanking someone isn’t being immodest, you’re simply acknowledging what they said. You don’t need to agree to with them thank them. And if someone asks for an autograph, don’t freak out. Just do it and be happy someone might think it’s valuable. My natural reaction to being asked for an autograph is, “Get real!” This is absolutely the wrong answer. Luckily it’s not an issue very often for me…

Look at the audience. You’ve had plenty of time staring at your instrument, don’t do it now.

After thousands of hours practicing your instrument, you may be in the habit of staring at it while playing. Bad idea. You can fool a lot of people into thinking you’re good if you make eye contact while playing. Spread it around. Look at the other musicians once in a while, maybe you’ll learn something. Maybe they will. Making eye contact doesn’t mean staring at them, just look at someone consciously once in a while. If you’re lucky enough to play in front of more people than you can actually see individually, use the actors’ trick of looking out over the crowd. By keeping your head up and looking out to the back of the house, you’ll appear as is you’re involving the whole crowd. This is more effective and important than you would possibly believe. A lot of amateur and semi-pros never convince the audience there’s anything go on simply because there’s no involvement. People are sheep. If they can’t tell visually you’re having a discussion with the other musicians, they may not hear it, either. By looking into the audience, you may be able to fool them into thinking they’re part of the act. And if they think they’re involved in what’s happening on stage, they’ll have a harder time believing it sucks.

Settle your contract before you go onstage. Know how long and when you will be playing, at least.

After you have enough problems with verbal contracts, you may start insisting on paper. But I’ve had decent luck on the casual casuals just making sure I repeat back the facts during a phone conversation. Make sure you know the difference between arrival time and the downbeat. You may hear “We want you there at 8pm.” But it could mean they expect you to start playing at 8, or you can start setting up at 8. Big difference. Lots of people seem to think a band can walk in the door and start playing immediately. Make sure the person who is going to pay your check agrees to your concept of set length and breaks. Three half-hour sets isn’t enough for playing a bar, but might be ridiculously too much at a club as part of the show. If you’ve worked up “the perfect set” only to find the guy writing the check needs another fifteen minutes, you could be out of luck if the only thing left in your list is a polka version of “Rawhide”.

Don’t get twisted before your show. You don’t sound better, honest.

The audience isn’t drunk before you start playing, so you probably shouldn’t be, either. If you’re nervous at the start, you’re normal. Cope with it. Getting altered just before going on can throw off the whole night. If things don’t start out smoothly it can escalate quickly while you fumble for solutions. Every player I’ve worked with who says, “I play better stoned/drunk/shrooming/bent/dosed,” has been wrong. They may think they sound better, but it usually just leads to rambling pointless solos and playing too loud. If the gig is running well and the audience is getting toasted, you might have a bit of fun, but don’t get a head start on the whole thing. Also, it’s kinda lame in most shows to have the guitarist throw up. Some bands, that’s a highlight, but don’t count on it.

HEART TO WORSHIP….

  • wpid-img_20150111_164739.jpg
  • Happy are those who keep his decrees, who seek him with their whole heart” —Psalm 119:2
    Contrary to our popular association with emotions, biblical writers pictured the heart as the seat of our will. To love God with all your heart means responding to him with intentional choices that reflect his character and will. To engage people volitionally in worship is to develop gatherings that move people to actual decisions. Worship is not just about what we do in church on Sunday mornings, but about how we live our lives 24/7. Experiential Worship gatherings help people encounter God in such a way that they are inspired and empowered to live their whole lives as sacred offering to him. Explore these HeartWorship ideas and ask God to show you how to engage the will of your people more fully in worship.
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