With 980 selections in Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs, some are bound to be unfamiliar. These little-known songs are well worth taking the time and effort to learn, but there are challenges involved! How do you go about teaching new songs to non-musicians? What if your pianist can't read music? What if you don't have a pianist? At Melody Publications, we are committed to helping churches and individuals learn these rich selections. We've included a few tips below for those looking to explore this vast treasure.
Plan ahead! Sight-reading new music can be challenging for many musicians, and if your pianist is struggling, the congregation will too.
If your musician plays "by ear" instead of by note, have them check out our YouTube channel, where they will find hundreds of selections recorded on piano for learning purposes. Approximately 800 songs from the hymnal are available, and we continue to record and upload additional selections. You can find our channel here.
Once your pianist can play the songs, how do you introduce them to your church? Consider introducing a new hymn through your choir first. The congregation will learn the song faster through the exposure of hearing it sung, and it will encourage them to sing out as members of the choir blend with them once the music is introduced to the church as a whole.
If musicians play a prelude before the service, consider asking them to add some of the songs you're planning to introduce into their rotation. A congregation will grow more familiar with the new songs without even realizing.
Introduce the page number of a new song, and have a pianist play through the music once. Then have the pianist play the melody line once or twice. Your congregation will begin to join in as they get more comfortable with the new tune, and their participation will give you a good idea of when they're ready to sing the entire song. Sing new songs several times. If you introduce a piece and don't return to it for several weeks or months, a congregation will likely have forgotten it almost completely.
Have fun! It's exciting and encouraging to explore new songs to worship the Lord! Never lose sight of for whom we sing!
-The Melody Publications Team.
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These are very worthwhile suggestions, and as one who struggles to note read, and plays by ear, I appreciate the work you have done.