(Above) Participants at adult music camp at Jackson’s Point Conference Centre, Ont., hit the right notes (Photo: Craig Lewis)
To some, having a brass band may seem like an anachronism. I wholeheartedly disagree with that sentiment. To me, a brass band is a modern musical tool that does far more than just entertain. Here are some of the specific benefits that a brass band brings to individuals, your corps and The Salvation Army corporately:
- Outreach. Music can grab people like words seldom do. Music can entertain, draw attention and even bridge the gap between the often-insular language of the church and the world beyond our doors. It is also flexible in style and genre; adaptable to speak to diverse crowds in their own musical interest. “Go into the world. Go everywhere and announce the Message of God’s good news to one and all” (Mark 16:15 The Message).
- Community. A brass band is a place to belong—a family. In today’s world, where people are glued to electronic devices or working from home, we are more alone than ever before. A band can be a vibrant small group that actively engages in both worship and service together. “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (Romans 12:4-5).
- Discipleship. Every week, musicians gather in both rehearsal and worship, where they are exposed to the Word of God and challenged to grow in their faith and witness. Whether it’s through the weekly group devotions or understanding the words and meaning of the music they are playing, there is a huge opportunity to grow disciples. “It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things” (1 Peter 1:12).
- Mentorship. We have few ministries in the church that are as crossgenerational and welcoming of new Christians as our brass bands. How many of our young people have been mentored by that seasoned musician sitting beside them in the band? They’ve been taught everything from musical skills to discipline, teamwork and commitment—valuable skills that are transferable to so many areas of life. “Point your kids in the right direction—when they’re old they won’t be lost” (Proverbs 22:6 The Message).
- Worship. Making music in this setting is an active expression of worship. Music is one of the many ways that God communicates with us. Corporate and participatory worship brings us closer to both God and our fellow humans. “Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:19-20).
- Public Relations. Brass bands are a distinct part of The Salvation Army’s brand. This is most visible at Christmas when our ministry engages in fundraising within our communities. It is a well-known fact that having live brass playing at your kettles has a positive impact on the donations received. If you were running a business and revenue growth could be attributed to a particular factor, you would invest time and energy in sustaining and growing that component. Likewise, if brass bands do so much for the organization at Christmas, then it would be prudent to invest in them all year round. “Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run; hurry and scurry puts you further behind” (Proverbs 21:5 The Message).
- Diversity/Inclusiveness. Age, race, gender—none of these things matter in a brass band. Instead, we become one in mission and ministry. “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully” (Romans 12:6-8).
I’m sure that you could come up with your own reasons in addition to mine. I leave you with this quote from Martin Luther: “Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.” Now what are you waiting for? Get to band practice!
Craig Lewis is the territorial secretary for music and gospel arts.
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