Rock Musician At The Keyboard

Indie rock musician finds himself in a church gig in Australia. I was thinking about that scene in The Commitments when a little Procol Harum breaks out at practice. The folks at St Kevin’s, Bangalow have that covered:

Shortly after taking up residence in the church refectory, a residential space for artists, parishioners asked if he would consider playing the organ as the church had been without an organist for some time.

After agreeing to the gig, he was told to always remember he was playing to a congregation and not an audience and with this in mind the experience has been both humbling and illuminating.

James Cruickshank:

The first time I was terrified.

I can relate

But when everyone is getting into it…I have had some beautiful musical moments.

I’ll take that assessment as a positive sign and expression. Church musicians, when they truly put themselves into a posture of service, can and do know moments of beauty and “inexplicable lightness.”

In my first parish assignment, the pastor introduced me to the inactive Catholic husband of a catechumen. He had been a gigging rock guitarist for over a decade in the Chicago area. But he played the piano quite well and settled in quickly to his new role in a different kind of band. I respected my friend Manny as a musician, a family man, and as a seeker. Getting ready for his first Mass, it was eleven pieces of music to learn. Mass number two switched out six of those. He said his band might have thirty songs down pat. I told him our active repertoire was at least four times that: about a hundred songs, twenty psalms, and three or four Mass settings. But he was up for it every week for well over a year.

My respect for Manny increased when he announced he was taking a leave from the group for several weeks. A few things, as I remember. Sitting with his kids at Mass (his wife now sang in our group). But he found his perfectionism and desire for good performance was overshadowing the real reason he went to Mass. After a few months off, he came back refreshed musically and spiritually.

Parishes can do very well receiving gigging secular musicians into their music ministries. The best singers and musicians are eminently adaptable, and I’ve enjoyed so many good experiences over the years: getting to know some fine people, seeing them get drawn closer to Christ. And making fine music.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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