In 2011 the Central Territory embarked on an ambitious goal of having Live Music in Worship in Every Corps by 2020 (LM2020). Much progress has been made over the last six years with 204 corps currently benefitting from live music. However, a large percentage of corps are dependent on talented corps officers. In order for live music to grow and be sustained in corps, the territorial music and gospel arts department is strengthening music ministries by emphasizing the training and equipping of local leaders. With just two years to go with LM2020, here’s how they hope to “bring it home.”
Central Music Institute
If you’re a young Salvationist musician in this territory, CMI is still the place to be in summer! This beloved 10-day encampment provides the opportunity for young musicians to develop their skills and discover ways to use their talents to glorify God and support their corps. In addition to the core schedule of band and vocal classes and rehearsals, the curriculum has expanded to include five elective tracks to help address the needs and interests of today’s emerging young Salvationist musicians: music leadership, praise band, drama, dance and media production.
Youth Band and Chorus Retreat
The Territorial Youth Band and Territorial Youth Chorus debuted in 2014 to challenge and encourage the development of young Salvationist musicians and to help them experience the fulfillment that comes from using their talents for the Lord. Representing the territory’s best, these young musicians gather annually for a retreat of concentrated study, rehearsals and mentoring by members of the territorial music and gospel arts department, the Chicago Staff Band and the Bill Booth Theater
Chicago Staff Band, Singing Company and Bill Booth Theater Company
The Chicago Staff Band, the Singing Company and the Bill Booth Theater Company are well known and loved in the Midwest. The territory’s three premier music and gospel arts groups not only share their talents through performing concerts and supporting worship services and events on a monthly basis but by conducting corps and divisional music schools with the goal of enriching worship at the local level. A concerted effort has been made to enlarge their audience as they travel the territory and to incorporate young participants with a view toward strengthening the future.
Guitar and Ukulele
LM2020 efforts have been bolstered by a guitar initiative that began in 2014 with a plan where territorial headquarters matched the purchase of up to 10 guitars by each division. More corps benefitted from a huge donation of guitars and other equipment by the Guitar Center which was divided among the divisions. In 2016, guitar and praise band leadership instruction was integrated into Central Music Institute (CMI). In 2017, the ukulele initiative allowed corps to engage a wider audience in music making and serves as a foundation for future guitarists.
Operation Piano Player
As part of the long-range objectives for LM2020, this initiative promotes the development of emerging pianists in corps, with the territorial music and gospel arts department supporting up to 100 budding pianists across all 10 divisions with a one-third subsidy for piano lessons over the next five years.
Music Arts Proficiency (MAP)
Created by Dr. Harold Burgmayer, the MAP curriculum is a carefully structured, six-level scheme for the progressive development and tracking of students in voice, brass, piano, guitar, ukulele, theory and percussion. The program aims to enhance the quality of weekly worship by helping individuals improve their skills. Designed especially for use in corps, MAP uses Salvation Army tunes and songs. Periodic evaluations take place during regular rehearsals. Materials, resources and tutorial videos will be posted on the music and gospel arts department’s website, and a database for recording each student’s individual progress soon will be available.
Perhaps the most basic way to involve children in music at the corps is through singing companies. So, it’s no wonder on the heels of introducing LM2020, the territory set its sights on helping corps form, grow and strengthen them. Leader training has been implemented and opportunities have been given for singing companies to perform divisionally and territorially, most recently as a united singing company of more than 250 at last year’s Congress.
With One Accord: A Team Approach to Worship Planning
Every corps has the opportunity to create a worship experience that can touch people’s lives each Sunday. This curriculum introduced last year helps corps team up individuals into a fully functioning worship committee that creatively plans and participates in relevant, vibrant worship. This new resource can be particularly helpful for corps that have set STEPs (Strategic Tool to Engage Potential) goals focused on improving the quality of their weekly worship.
Songs of Salvation
Originally created for adult rehabilitation centers, this versatile songbook (with both words and music) is a treasure trove of 200 hymns, songs and choruses that should not be overlooked by corps. From classics like “Amazing Grace” to more recent songs like “In Christ Alone,” the songbook’s simplified piano accompaniments, chord symbols and a comfortable range for singing makes it accessible in the corps worship setting. In addition, a recently designed song leader-guitarist edition follows a lead sheet format and comes complete with notated melody line and lyrics, chord symbols with guitar-friendly capo chords, introduction brackets and tempo markings.
The Beat Goes On!
Hot off the press from Crest Books, The Beat Goes On! Music as a Corps Ministry by Dr. Harold Burgmayer, territorial music and gospel arts secretary, gives a comprehensive overview of music ministries within the corps setting. Its 25 chapters incorporate piano, guitar, instrumental, praise band, singing companies and songsters, junior and senior bands, corps music schools and worship planning. Online resources and audio examples complement the book.
With the release of the 24th set of Hallelujah Choruses, corps have access to 260 choruses in English and Spanish to enhance worship. Hallelujah Choruses are designed to be versatile, through use of the PraisePak (for praise band and vocalists), instrumental (brass ensemble) and spiral-bound piano accompaniment and lead sheet collections.
The territorial music and gospel arts department website, samusiccentral.org, has undergone a transformation. It now provides more information about territorial performing groups, upcoming events and resources for music and gospel arts in a user-friendly format.