Orchestrating Harmony in the Body

In my role as a music director, it would be wonderful to say that my job consisted of teaching vocal parts and ensuring that our ensembles sound good. How idyllic my work would be if my days were spent picking songs and tuning instruments. It is often assumed that music departments deal only with the "sounds" of service—the soundtrack for our worship experiences. But before there can be a melodious soundtrack, there must be a careful orchestration of all the musical components. Those components are not just voices and instruments—they are also people.

In any orchestra, there are many contributing instruments. They are made of different materials. Each has it's own distinct sound. They play at different octaves and often with different rhythms, but each section has a role to play, adding to the overall composition. Without proper planning and orchestration, the different sections could easily get in each other's way—drowning out the more delicate sounds, overriding the tempo, and producing mass discord instead of music.

Inside of any HELPS auxiliary team—including the music department—are volunteers. They come from different walks of life and varying backgrounds. Each team member brings to the group a particular skill set, a collection of life experiences, and most certainly, a personal opinion. It takes strategic planning, and much prayer to have great success in such a large department. It is only through planning and prayer that harmony is achieved—both in the sound we produce, and amongst the people who produce it.

Paul, writing to the church at Ephesus about the Body of Christ, talks about how the Body becomes productive.

“ …From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. ” Ephesians 6:14 KJV

It is when the entire Body—which is knit and held together by the contributions of every joint—and every part of the Body is fulfilling its job effectively that the Body as a whole is productive, grows, and increases.

Likewise, it is when each member and section of our music department contributes their gift and effectively carries out their role that the department as a whole is successful. No one part, group or person is more important than another. Each part played or sung has a critical place. Therefore it is essential to manage the people of our department in a way that respects and honors their unique contributions. This is the true challenge of my position.

The exciting part of my leadership position is working with people who all have different personalities, gifts and musical perspectives.

  • I am blessed to work with an extraordinary group of musicians, each of whom is very accomplished in their field. They have a wealth of musical knowledge and seemingly limitless creativity.
  • The vast majority of our department volunteers are choir or praise team members with a love of some style of music, but no professional musical training. They contribute not only their voices, but their time, energy and enthusiasm in learning/mastering the music planned.
  • We have a volunteer leadership team who bring organizational and communications gifts to the department. They help with recordkeeping, dispense scheduling & rehearsal updates, and maintain our music library & roster.

Without any one of these groups, the music department would not operate effectively.

My role, then, is to bridge the gap between experts and novices, and plot the right moves to get the best results out of the people we have to. A balance must be found between encouraging radical musical exploration for our band and recognizing the capacity of amateur volunteer voices. The gifts of soloists need to be cultivated without diminishing the effort of the larger group. With a large team, strategic assistance with communication and organization are key to maintaining an orderly, comfortable environment conducive to learning. Successfully achieving ministry through music is a complex score to direct, with many moving pieces.

How is it that all of these people, pieces and instruments come together at one time, with one voice, and all in agreement? Planning, preparation and prayer produce joint focus. Our members are joined together and connected not only through music, but also through their faith in Jesus Christ. We share the mission of ushering the people of God into His presence with praise and thanksgiving. Our common aim is that God be magnified and that through worship, His people experience His power and love.

Harmony in a musical group—or any other department or organization—is achieved when all of the parts and pieces stay focused on a common goal. That unity of direction is what truly makes beautiful music possible.

This article is written by Eboni Leslie

Worship Director at Word of Faith Int'l Christian Center - Southfield, MI