The Church Pianist: Christmas Program Tips

Programs, in general, require alot of practice if they are to be effective.

Just as a Pastor spends time preparing for a sermon, so must others… who share God’s message through music or speaking parts in a play.

Our ultimate goal must be to glorify God in all we say or do…decently and in order.

We must be careful to choose a program that fits the abilities of our church family.

Many of the smaller churches find themselves either simplifying a cantata to suit their abilities or…creating a simple program of their own.

Here are several tips when creating your own Christmas program:

 

1. Choose music in keys suitable for the adult or children’s choir

Adult Choir

Much can be said about this one point alone!

Lowering most hymns by one note puts most hymns in a more comfortable range…allowing the choir members to sing out even more.

Over half of our adult choir does not read music. Several of the choir members have a long commute to church (I happen to be one of them)… limiting us to shorter practices.

Therefore, two-part arrangements work best for us.

Children’s Choir

It also helps to lower hymns for the children’s choir. For example, see my free arrangement of “Away in a Manger”

I transposed this Christmas hymn to E flat Major…a whole step (one note name) lower than the original key. F Major is the original key in most hymnals.

I like to provide more melody support for a children’s choir. It helps them feel more secure.
  

2. Play filler music during transitions.

(to see filler music…refer to the free arrangement above…page two)

Filler music creates a smooth transition from one scene to another. Playing during transitions also covers excess noise and maintains the mood of the play.

The filler music should match the mood of the finishing scene or song and create a mood for the next scene or song.

Guessing the length of filler music is the challenge…right? 🙂

Whatever you do, end on the I chord of the key being used.

(See example of filler music on page 2 of Away in a Manger)

For a more interesting ending…you can end on the V 7 chord.

That’s another article in itself!

3. Sound check!

We always use the microphones during practice once we’re going through the entire program. But…be careful….just because the mics work for practice doesn’t mean they’re ready to go the night of the program.

Have someone do a sound check the night of the program; well before the service…to make sure everything is in working order.

Don’t forget to replace batteries or at least have spare batteries on hand for cordless mics.

There are other tips that I’ll have to share at another time.  I’m sure you can think of a few as well.  We all learn through experience don’t we?  I hope practice is going well for your Christmas program.

 

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