Last night, we introduced a theme chorus for our Missions Conference to the congregation. The song leader sang through the chorus once to let the congregation hear the tune. Then the congregation joined as he sang the chorus again twice through.
I knew that no one in the congregation had heard the song before (because I knew the song had only been written a few weeks before the conference)! Since the congregation unconsciously follows the piano, it was important for me to bring out the melody while they sang. Once they become more familiar with the song, I will branch out and add more “accompaniment.” For now, I need to remember that they still need the support of the melody on the piano.
Keep the following in mind when introducing a new song in church:
1. Keep the tempo at a moderate speed. The congregation is trying to learn a new melody and new words at the same time – make it as easy as possible for them.
2. Emphasize the melody. This is always important, but even more so if the congregation only has the words of the song. Their ears are relying on the piano to give them the tune.
3. Listen to the congregation. Get a feel of how quickly they pick up the song. Adjust your playing (tempo, style, etc.) accordingly.
Musicians enjoy learning new music, and I am sure the congregation feels the same way. Do your part as the accompanist and make the learning process as smooth as possible. Follow the steps listed above and you will be able to add your own accompaniment in no time!