It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth forever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD; so that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God. II Chronicles 5:13-14
These verses are taken from the account of the dedication of Solomon’s temple. Many years of labor and untold resources were invested in the completion of this magnificent structure. During this dedication service, in impressive building became a holy temple when God’s glory filled the house.
As I ponder this passage, I think of the preparation that went into every phase of the building project and every facet of the dedication service. You may rest assured that the musicians practiced. It says that they made one sound. This means that they were together. That does not happen without practice. The larger the group, and the more difficult the music, the more important it is that we practice.
Surely the temple musicians were serious about this service.It was the dedication of God’s temple. In the New Testament Age, the body of the believer is the temple of the Holy Spirit. In our church services, we strive to be a witness for Christ to those who are unsaved and encourage those who are saved to love the Lord more and serve Him with all their hearts. We should be serious about anything that we do for God, but especially the music that we prepare for church.
One purpose of a music rehearsal is to enable us to make one sound. Here are a few thoughts about music practices in general and some ideas that will apply to choir practices in particular.
- Attend practice. I know that this is a novel idea, but it actually works! If you are not there, you do not know what happened in practice. A choir member may think, I know all of the songs that we will work on in tonight’s practice, and that may be true. But a person who is not in practice will not carry the same emotional energy into the service. He will not sense the same tempo and therefore will not be able to fully participate in one sound.
- Get to the practice early. Find your music, get in your place, and start thinking the music before the practice begins. Instrumentalist may need time to tune their instruments. Vocalist would do well to do some stretching and vocal warm-ups so that they are ready to sing. When the director or the person leading the practice is ready to begin, everyone else should be ready as well. The larger the group, and the more difficult the music, the more important it is that we practice.
- Pay attention. If you have gone to the trouble to be at the practice, you might as well know what is going on. Choir members, watch the director. Everyone, focus on what is happening during the rehearsal. Even when the group is rehearsing another part, follow along. Knowing more about what other members of the group are doing will help you to achieve one sound.
- Invest yourself in the rehearsal. Many people have the idea that the only thing that matters is when we sing in church. If we can “get through it” during the service, then everything is OK. That may be true, but “getting through it” and having one sound are two entirely different things. Wake up, be alert, get excited, and allow yourself to understand the message of the music and let that message stir your heart. (For more on this subject, see October’s article entitled Music From the Heart by Dr. Mike Zachary.)
- Watch the director. There is no substitute for this one. If we are going to make one sound, we must all be watching one person. You may use peripheral vision if you need to look at your music, but you must be able to see the director, and you must be following not only the tempo, but also every nuance of energy and interpretation. A group of people who will discipline themselves in this one area will have a completely different sound from a group who will not. There are no shortcuts here, and no exceptions. Even if your instrument has a difficult passage that demands your attention, you still must find a way to absorb what is being communicated from the director.
These are simple ideas, but most special music groups and most choirs would be totally transformed if only 75 percent of the people involved would implement them. However, we are not going to be satisfied if one fourth of the group is still not with it, because we are striving for one sound.