Question for the Salvation Army members

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by bassendworld, Jul 15, 2014.

  1. bassendworld

    bassendworld Member

    A number of you play with non SA bands and hopefully enjoy the experience,
    How do you feel about that role being reversed ie..non SA members plating in the SA band?

    Is that aprogressive fresh out look or something to be frowned upon?

  2. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    There are several aspects to this question, and different locations may well have resolved it in their own way.

    Membership of a commissioned Salvation Army Band is limited to those who have signed up initially as soldiers, accepting the SA stand on smoking and alcohol, amongst other issues. A number of Corps have opted to establish more of a felllowship band set-up, where those restrictions do not necessarily apply.

    Our situation at Hadleigh is that we welcome any who would like to join us for practice, and on certain occasions, such as our monthly Praise Nights, or the occasional Last Night of the Proms concerts, they have been invited to play out with the band.

    Incidentally, when the SA was being re-established in Russia, they decided to form their bands from adherents, people who associated themselves with the organisation without necessarily making a full commitment of faith. This attracted a number of military bandsmen, many of whom have gone on to make a deeper commitment.

    We have discussed forming a fellowship band at Hadliegh to run alongside the current band, aimed at attracting former members and others, the intention being that this group would include beginners as well as more experienced players, but nothing has been settled as yet.
  3. pbirch

    pbirch Active Member

    the purpose of any band should be clear to its members, if it is to win contests or make money (and I'm not saying that there is necessarily anything wrong with those aims) then everyone accepts those aims, if you don't want to win, or don't pull your weight in the effort then you will not be accepted, The aim of a Salvation Army band is to promote the Christian Gospel and support worship in the style of the Salvation Army, now if you can't or won't support those aims why would anyone want to enlist in a Salvation Army band? This is not to say that anyone who wants to join will not be very welcome, just that you have to be clear about what you are joining.
    there is a question of carts before horses, one becomes a Christian, then a Salvationist, then a Salvation Army musician in that order, the other way round might work but would lack a certain authenticity
  4. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    Whilst I know what you are saying, there are also instances where involvement on an informal basis has led to a fuller commitment. At a recent concert by the Solent Fellowship Band it was pointed out that 17 people had entered into full fellowship in a Salvation Army worshipping community since being involved with the band. It seems to me to be an evangelistic opportunity that we cannot ignore.
  5. Aussie Tuba

    Aussie Tuba Member

    I have to Agree Peter

    Looking for the like Button
  6. simonbassbone

    simonbassbone Member

    Would the situation/response be different at a small corps that struggles to maintain a functioning band for Sunday worship so asks for help from the local town band members?
  7. bassendworld

    bassendworld Member

    Thanks for the responses, unsurpringsingly I am reading both sides of the equation here,

    Those that appreciate that the army musically in some (not all i am sure) quarters may need a helping hand I for one see no problem with this as long as care and attention is given to the respect the army music and ethos deserves.

    Others more staunch in their approach that the Christian beleifs take complete priority.

    I pose the question because having been enjoying the pleasure of playing with a local SA band we have been asked to play at the ''welcome Meeting'' of the cops new officers in a couple of weeks. as non salvationists there seems to be a mixed reaction for this to be allowed....
  8. pbirch

    pbirch Active Member

    this is the real dilemma that we have got ourselves in to, and it is saying that the ends justify the means. I don't want to be misunderstood here, I enjoy making music with a wide variety of people, within and outside the Salvation Army, and nothing about those situations causes me any problem (except that all other groups have to understand that the Army band always has priority), nor am I saying that there is anything inherently superior about a Salvation Army band or the people who play in it, and no one would be more pleased than me to here about people finding or re-finding their faith through this or other means. I still maintain , though, that it is important that one becomes a Salvationist before becoming a member of the band, and of course, there is no obstacle to anyone doing that.
  9. bassendworld

    bassendworld Member

    That does seem a shame then that using the music (as a player) is not the way to anyone becoming a salvationist, adherent or simply to enjoy the undouted quality and meaning of the music.
  10. JimboFB

    JimboFB Active Member

    Historically there are 2 issues to think about here,

    When i first was old enough to be allowed to play in the senior SA band the rule was you werent allowed to play in a contesting band. A more prudent point was that i wasnt anywhere near good enough to either and my dad was in the same band so i just went along with him.

    As i got older and my playing improved, coincidentally the rules changed around the same time. due to family friends and people in the county orchestras i got asked to play in a 2nd section contesting band as a dep for a contest and loved the whole experience. The concerts i found more interesting with a greater variety of music. Found myself playing SA music as well as many varied other styles i had not had exposure to before.

    I'm guessing this is a familiar story to people.

    Where it gets difficult is that some SA bands tried to be tough about clashes when in fact what they were/are offering is an inferior product. I'm talking purely on the musical side now - not religion. This, in my opinion forced many people who were happy to try and do both into making a choice which subsequently has made SA banding numbers decline.

    Now that the decline is set in and numbers are continually falling (for a variety of reasons i must add-not just because of contesting bands!) people seem to have realised that the only way to encourage people back to being involved is in a much more relaxed way.

    From my own point of view i think the horse has bolted and its too late. SA banding is in terminal decline and no matter what you do it will never recover to the level where the majority of SA bands could count 30+ players in its membership. I think non uniformed/adherents (call them what you want) should be allowed to play, its not harming anyone. Quite why people seem to get so worked up about it is beyond me.
  11. Gorgie boy

    Gorgie boy Member

    James, I totally agree with you.
  12. gaz50

    gaz50 New Member

    As an ex SA bandman and who's family are and was member of the SA Band it time that people openned up to the fact times change, yes tradition and rules form a part of being an Army bandsman and help to try and set a standard. How much more could be acheived by relaxing of certain rules. William Booth in 1800's saw a need to offer hope. I would love to see now what he would do with the Army, change is not always bad but it can be scarey. I take my hat of to those of you who are comitted bands people. I ask a question what the difference between a Salvation Army bandsmen and a Christian Bandsman same God just some different rules, they should play together some of the inspirational music to enhance their own and other peoples faith.
  13. JonBond

    JonBond Member

    It's an interesting question. Much of what TSA does needs to be reviewed and I add my opinion based purely on my experience and would add that each Corps band does by nature have a different ethos.

    I agree with Peter that TSA bands provide a great evangelistic opportunity to share with like minded musicians, even if faith is not shared. I think the approach to encouraging fellowship in rehearsals and the odd special occasion can prove beneficial to both TSA and the individual.

    What I would highlight, however, is that the primary function of a SA band is to lead worship. Sadly many bandsmen and women in TSA fail to understand that when they play a hymn tune or contemporary song tune to accompany the Corps (church) in worship they themselves are leading that worship. To many bandspeople it is simply playing. So this then takes me onto the next point, which is I'm afraid a slightly theological one. If the nature of SA banding is in itself worship, there then creates a great difficulty in being effective if you have people involved who cannot be a part of that worship if they don't share your faith.

    In my experience, as a former bandmaster (of a Corps band with some members who ultimately could not equate the whole worship thing, nor understand that actually we're much more about relationship and faith, than wearing the right uniform) the greater calling is to worship. This in itself creates a difficult situation, as ultimately, all your bandspeople are in a position of authority in your Corps, and held up as examples of the Corps values (whether intentionally or not).

    So, back to your specific predicament - if I were the BM of the Corps band you are referring to I would approach this issue on the merits of your personal circumstances and the situation that has lead up to the invitation. Ultimately that is for the BM to make a call on, of course in partnership with the Corps Officers.
  14. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    It is commonly the case that some members of choirs that perform for church services (regular C of E or Catholic) are less than devout. Indeed, as someone with zero religiosity, I've been paid to perform for church services in the past (not singing, I hasten to add), and I could name plenty of other people who do the same thing much more regularly.

    Surely it is not the individual bandspeople that are leading the worship, but the band collectively, via the medium of the director? If using non-SA people in the band enables a better quality of SA worship to be induced in the congregation, then surely it makes sense to come to the same conclusion that the broader Christian church came to hundreds of years ago?

    At root, if the issue is a straight choice between a decline in devotional music-making and the employment of non-devout musicians, then matters are simple - either one values the inspiration of the music-making more or one values the exclusivity of it more.
  15. JonBond

    JonBond Member

    Hi Dave. Yes I appreciate your point. However, just because the approach has been (and continues to be) using those without faith in such a position doesn't lessen the issue. I find it sad that many churches per your comments require the services of a paid musician to maintaint there tradition of music. Nonetheless, (I don't want o be overly theological in this forum, but...) if your ensemble cannot engage with the meaning of the words that are being sung in worship then the effectiveness of the music offering is realistically reduced.

    When playing to accompany singing in an SA setting, or whether offering a meditative piece of music, there are words associated which the majority of bandspeople will be aware of. Many will be thinking of the words whilst they play the tunes. This is an important aspect of portraying the message behind the music.

    In essence, I guess what I am saying is that the music of SA bands is much less about the musicality, and much more about the message contained therein. If you fail to portray the message (since you don't believe it / live it / agree with it) then ultimately the SA band becomes a social institution (much like the majority of what TSA does nowadays.... another topic ;-)), providing entertainment and little else.
  16. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    "Portraying the message" is an interesting one. There is what the musicians are putting out, and then there is what the devout are receiving from it. We don't demand that actors in TV shows and films actually be in the situations portrayed in real life, but rather take from the skill of their performance the willing suspension of disbelief that allows us to engage with them as if they were. I don't see any reason why the same shouldn't apply to musicians playing for church services - surely the message is more convincingly portrayed by a top-class non-devout player than by a devout player struggling on the edge of their ability? [to contrast the extreme cases]

    I hope I am not seeming provocative here; these are genuinely meant questions from someone with no SA connections or religious inclination.
  17. JonBond

    JonBond Member

    Well that could well be a matter of opinion. Yes I would say that the band and all the players should strive for the greatest musicianship in their playing. I would however say that, listening to any number of highly competent bands play, for example, Dean Goffin's "Light of the World" has left me flat, whilst an SA band playing the same piece sends shivers down my back. It's a beautiful piece and the message within is missed if only musicality is the focus. There are numerous examples.

    Another example to highlight the point - walking through any town or village in the summer and you hear a Brass Band. Many Salvationist musicians will testify to being able to tell if it an SA band or not by their playing. It's not the choice of music, the sound or tonal quality. But simply the approach to the music as subservient to the message contained therein. I have done just that whilst walking through Zurich, hearing a brass band and finding it to see it was an SA band (Zurich Central). I didn't know the music they were playing, or recognise the tunes contained, but I could tell it was an Army band.
  18. gaz50

    gaz50 New Member

    I agree with this playing music like the light of the world etc moves your soul as you play it the words echo in your mind. I still get this feeling when I play devotional music as a non sa bandsman in my non sa band you can't act that feeling
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2014
  19. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    Interesting concept but it just doesn't work for me. When I go to church I listen to music that seems totally uninfluenced by the beliefs of the player. The organist might be singing the hymn's too but it just doesn't show, well not to me anyway.

    Playing for the SA is something that I and I feel sure many others would do on a 'help you out basis', we might also like to benefit from overlapping at times with some outstanding musicians.

    The SA make their choice, but I believe that being too much of a purist is virtually always to your disadvantage. Assuming that the individual is sympathetic to your idea's, presentable and capable then why not let them help you out? Bands that I have been in have played in the services of long established churches, no one asks about your beliefs all that has mattered is playing and presentation.
  20. pbirch

    pbirch Active Member

    there are a number of things here, the Salvation Army does not have a monopoly on devotional music (after all it has only been here for the last 150 years of of 1500 + years of religious music) and much of our recent output has not been terribly devotional. As to the devoutness of the players, many churches hire professional musicians for their services regardless of the musicians beliefs, and that is fair enough if they are providing a professional performance.
    It is also true to say that the levels of devoutness vary among Salvationists and all other denominations for that matter, we are after all only human. I come back to this, though, The Salvation Army is not a musical organisation, it is part of the Church, and as such is open to everyone. Being a church musician (including being a member of a Salvation Army band) is something extra and special in addition to being a member of the church, and the spiritual life is more important than the music.
    Outside of brass music, I once asked a non religious friend what he felt when he sang Faure's Requiem. He said it was moving music, calling for his best efforts in singing but it did not impact on his lack of belief, and I suspect that the same is true of anyone playing Salvation Army music in and Army band or any other for that matter

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