Monday, April 6, 2009

Planting Seeds

Do you see yourself as a music leader? Can you start to envision yourself emerging from following, moving forward to share and bring others into worship? What does that mean to you? What is worship?

Our mission church held a “playshop” retreat on Saturday from 9-3. We called it play, because it certainly wasn't work, yet it was demanding and exhausting. It was an amazing event; 19 people shared their time, energy, music and passion. We had a short lecture on what worship in the 21st century is becoming, we shared why we were there. It was such a holy time. As much as I would like to focus on the spiritual event that took place, I will today focus on the music aspect of that great day.

The rhythm of most of the music we learned on Saturday had an insistent beat; if I were to write it down in 4/4, it was 2 dotted quarter notes, quarter note. Simple, singular and driving. It was challenging to some, others were innately gifted. The presenter had brought several instruments I had not ever had the privilege to play, and one I had never seen. Later in the day, we used the guitars, keys, voices of our time, it was such a mix of musical styles and time periods.

We did some Latin American music. I don’t speak Spanish, but it really didn’t matter. The words were not hard to learn, and because it is repetitive, you get it quickly. Many people do not read music today in a traditional sense. Now everyone can participate in song. One of the statements the presenter said will stay with me a long time. “Where else do people come together to sing?” Karaoke bars are focused on one person. Choirs are trained to sing a certain way and are rather exclusive. School children sing in class, but what adults sing together? There is deep connectedness to life itself when all people raise their voices together: men, women, children, high, low, old, young, pitched, and non-pitched. Those lucky lucky villages where everyone comes together to chant and sing.

Imagine 19 grown people-put yourself among us, learning traditional African percussion instruments and singing in an African language. Although we were musicians we were taught orally and aurally, in the African way. Repeating the phrases over and over, harmonies started to emerge on their own. The percussion sounds filled our shoes and we started moving. We stood in a half-circle and the music seeped into our very skin. One woman’s short hair stood on end! The song was a call to worship, and it called us all.

I planted seeds of leadership and music on Saturday. It will be so fun to watch them grow. (Lola's pot-head hair has sprouted, sort of. It's pretty thin!)

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