Then David spoke to the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers accompanied by instruments of music, stringed instruments, harps, and cymbals, by raising the voice with resounding joy. 1 Chr.15:16 (NKJV)
In my younger days, when I was trying to ‘make it’ as a musician, I had 10-15 trumpet students per week. This was a source of great enjoyment for me. I would work each student over for thirty minutes a week. We would practice arpeggios, lip slurs, etudes and other strange delights that were native to the foreign land of kissing a piece of metal and buzzing one’s lips to generate a pleasant sound.
I had at least one long term success; one of my students went on to be the bugler for Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. A couple of others have become music teachers themselves. However, the overwhelming majority of these good musicians placed their expensive horns in cases, and sentenced them into the dusty attics of their homes after years of study.
The great tragedy of instrumental music in the United States is that after high school, unless you pursue music as a vocation, there is little outlet for adults to continue to express their creative spirit. We even tell young people that music is something that they can do for the rest of their lives, unlike sports. But I know of many more former high school athletes who play a pick-up game on the weekends, than I do retired clarinetists or saxophonists who pick up the weekend gig. This is a place that the church can step in. Your church may have instrumentalists who haven’t played for a while who are itching to do just that.
Think of all of the training that the average high school musician has had, and find a way to tap that. The 2008 Baptist Hymnal has orchestrations with individual downloadable parts (lifewayworship.com). If I had two flute players in my congregation, it would be so worth a hundred dollars or so to buy them the means to lead worship for the rest of their lives! The key is to look at your high school musicians currently.
In an orchestra that I directed, one of my most loyal musicians was a young Polish Catholic man who played baritone. He simply came to play his horn. But what a thrill it was to see him put down his instrument one Sunday morning to walk the aisle and accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior!
Let me encourage you to be inclusive in your desire to see instrumentalists taking an active role in your churches worship; empower new worship leaders for Kingdom work!
John Francis is an Assistant Professor of Music at Hannibal-LaGrange University, Hannibal Missouri. In addition to teaching trumpet, John is the director of Christian Worship Studies at the University. He is currently working on his Ph.D. in Church Music with an emphasis in Worship Arts at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary where his dissertation work is about Biblical trumpets. You can follow his research blog at biblicaltrumpets.org.