If you look at the date of my last blog post, you’d think I haven’t been doing very much over the last several months! But, on the contrary, we’ve been producing a new course that released in November 2019 (find it here), creating a Facebook page to share more music, uploading lots of content to my YouTube channel, teaching many live one-on-one lessons every week, filming a new set of video lessons for congregational playing, and writing sheet music to go with each lesson! In addition, I’ve been working on my original songs for a CD our family is planning to record in a few weeks. It’s an exciting time, and Josh and I are thankful for every door God is opening right now.
The video below specifically works on “I Surrender All,” but the style is appropriate for invitational hymns, in general. The main point to remember when playing for an invitation or time of prayer is to play much more softly than you do for congregational music. You are there to provide more of an atmosphere and a spirit of prayerful meditation than anything else. This is not the time to practice your arpeggios and Southern gospel frills or jazz chords. Just keep it simple. 🙂 Even playing just the four notes from the hymnal with a few connecting fill-ins is sufficient. I usually keep the soft pedal pressed the entire time I play for invitations, unless the congregation is asked to sing a verse.
You can also just play two or three notes in your right hand (melody, then add an alto or tenor harmony) and keep a soft rolling pattern in your left hand, as seen below.
Sometimes, I theme my preludes by key change progression, either in half-steps, whole-steps, or through the circle of fifths. For example, I’ll play a song in A flat, B flat, C, then D. Other times, I may choose a topic. Every now and then, my preludes work for both types of groupings, like this prelude on “Heaven” for the video below. I used three upbeat gospel songs about Heaven, “Heaven’s Jubilee” in A flat, “Just Over in the Gloryland” in B flat, and “Everybody Will Be Happy over There” in C. They key changes work seamlessly and this upbeat prelude will encourage your congregation to participate in the service with energy.
God bless you efforts as you do your best to serve Him with music!
I absolutely love doing these live Q&A Sessions on Instagram. Generally, on Facebook, when we go live on Sunday afternoons, I just play requests from viewers. But, during these live Instagram sessions, we really delve into your questions about a wide range of hymn-playing topics. I play a few requests too. 🙂
These sessions are super informal, and the answers are off the top of my head. Regardless, I hope they are a great help to you church musicians and hymn-players. It is a privilege to use your talents in a worship service for the King of Kings. Working hard to develop your talent and improve your craft can be challenging at times, I know, but I want to encourage you to think of the eternal rewards that come from doing your best to honor God with your gifts. Musicians are a great blessing to a church family, and a skilled and confident musician can add so much to the service.
Blessings to you as you practice, especially while working on those (somewhat) challenging Christmas pieces this season! 🙂