Thursday, September 24, 2015

Worship Band

     About a year ago, I asked if I could play bass in the keiki worship band our church had, comprised of an adult leader that played guitar; kids that played percussion, piano, guitar, and violin; and youth vocalists. I felt it could use more low end and that I could have fun interacting with the youth.
      The leader said, Sure. The church has a bass, do you have an amp?
      I said, No, I'll check around and maybe buy one.
      The next week I showed up expecting to see the bass (I already knew where to buy an amp from), but he instead said, You'll play the washtub bass. And he showed me two different ones to chose from: large and small. Both were made by a church elder years ago from old-fashion aluminum washtubs, each with a string attached to the middle bottom and a stick to pull on to adjust the string's tension, which was plucked. I said, This is great. I love it! And I selected the big one to practice their songs, one of which we played in church one Sunday. I never did get to play my favorite song that we practiced, though, Lean on Me, with it's distinctive bass line because the kids were having trouble with the vocals.
      Then that worship leader left our church and a new leader stepped in. I was no longer particularly welcomed to continue playing, so I stepped aside.
      Then several months ago, our pastor told me, “I have a gift for you,” and gave me the church's Ibanez electric bass and asked me to join the keiki worship band (soon to be renamed praise band with all ages welcome). So I bought an amp and joined the group.
      We played our first song in church this past Sunday, even though we were originally scheduled to play in November. On seeming whim, our pastor last Sunday at practice said to the group just as I arrived (they started practicing early and were already finishing), So let's have you all play next Sunday, alright? (meaning we were on).
      Fortunately it was a song I knew well enough and we got to extend practice that day for those in the core of the group (sans drummer, who rarely shows up for practices these days).
      The day of the show, my family and I got to church an hour early—good thing because I had to set up the electronic drums, mics, music stands, music, bass, bass amp, and drum amp, and do sound checks. Fortunately the backup guitarist and drummer showed up fifteen minutes early so we could do a couple of run-throughs. Pene was supposed to play violin following notes I wrote for her. (She picked favorite notes from the chords I wrote out—mostly whole notes and a few half-notes. We'd practiced a few times at home and she'd sounded fine.) But during rehearsal, she started to put away her violin. I asked why. She said she wanted to sing, instead. I said, Play violin, you sound great. So she unpacked and the rehearsal went fine.
      Before service, I asked Deanne how Pene sounded and she said she was just standing there with violin in hand, not playing.
      Before we played, I asked Pene to play. She did and sounded fine (I heard her this time), and the song went fine, though when I asked Deanne about how Pene sounded, she said her violin was drowned out by the bass. I knew then that next time, we'll have to mic her just as the past violinist was always mic'd whenever he played, for one acoustic violin just can't compete with a plugged-in band.
      I wonder though if my playing style and volume was appropriate for our mostly senior audience and our church's conservative service (we sing mostly hymns accompanied by organ). My incentive for rockin' the bass line (with slaps, plucks, treble boost, some overdrive, slides, and bass chords) was to engage the youngsters and waken the baby boomers so it wouldn't seem so boring. For some of our youth are very iffy and indifferent toward the group and worship in general. I'd hate to see the band dissolve for lack of interest. Anything, then, to ignite the interest of these youngsters so that they would want to come and/or join—that's why I'm involved, that and of course to spend time with my kids doing something we can all get into and share happy memories of.
      We must not have been that bad 'cause our pastor asked (told) us to play again next week—same song. Amen to that!
     I later asked Pene why she didn't play during rehearsal and after a long pause she said because she didn't feel quite ready. I asked was it because the whole notes were boring to play? She said no. I said I can change them to quarter note scales. She said that's not necessary. I said if you're playing first in orchestra, you have to play out—I made lots of mistakes, no one cared. She said yes Dad. For some reason, she didn't seem quite into it, but once she's mic'd, perhaps she'll get more excited then. Or perhaps she's just imitating the ho-hum attitude of some of the other youth—she's like that: she'll pick up vibes and imitate. Her loss, though, if she's unable to enjoy due to the disinterest of others.  It's my job to try to make her like it!

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