Christmas isn’t just a time filled with visual change. Yes, there are Christmas trees and gold and red and snow and all sorts of new visual cues to indicate it’s Christmastime. But there are also different sounds. Turn on the radio to a station playing exclusively Christmas tunes, and you’ll hear chimes and jingle bells and all sorts of other instruments we don’t normally use throughout the rest of the year.
For many churches, this is where tracks come in. Multi-layer tracks can give you the flexibility to add any instrument into a worship song without someone actually having to play the instrument. It’s a great tool?that helps a band fill out its sound.
But I wonder if sometimes we kill the wonder a bit when we add sounds digitally that could be created live. For instant, that cool synth lead line… It’s weird when it dominates the band’s sound but it looks like nobody’s playing it. Or that strong piano… There isn’t even a piano on stage!
This is especially the case when you add brand new instruments to the mix. Especially Christmas instruments. So this year, I’d recommend you incorporate real Christmas instruments onto the stage. Give someone on your team a few weeks to master the new sound?and play it live.
Not only do you have the opportunity to do this with traditional Christmas instruments, but I believe you can even get a little creative. You can use different types of creative instruments to bring a cool new element and sonic texture to your worship services this year. Here are some ideas.[quote]You can use different types of creative instruments to bring a?new?sonic texture to your worship services.[/quote]
The band Stomp made metal trash cans a cool thing in the 90’s. Why not bring them back? They’re relatively inexpensive, have a cool percussive sound (in the right environment), and they actually look cooler after you’ve practiced banging on them a bit.
They can easily be used like a snare drum, either in a traditional rock set or in a marching band sound. Since many Christmas songs do well with a marching feel, this really gives the trash can a chance to shine. Just be sure to use it sparingly and not throughout the whole set. It’s a cool sound in moderation. But it gets annoying quickly.
Instead of having a traditional set of chimes on the stage, why not make your own? You can make them large or small, shape them however you want, and only choose the notes you’ll need for your worship sets. They also don’t have to be played by the drummer; you can give them to a keyboardist to play on certain songs or even a guitar player.
Alternative instruments like these are especially helpful if you want, say, a violinist on a particular song but not necessarily on the whole worship set. You can make the new musician multi-purpose by giving them a few different sounds they can contribute to the worship set.[quote]You can make a?new musician multi-purpose by giving them a few different sounds to?contribute.[/quote]
Makey Makey Digital Instruments
Makey Makey is a device that lets you turn nearly anything into a keyboard. I’ve been having a love affair with this device since it first came out. You can essentially turn anything into an instrument if you hook it up to a computer ? bananas, play-doh, pencil drawings, a glass of water… anything that can conduct electrical current. (Don’t worry, the current is weak so you won’t shock yourself.)
Imagine having a special element where a musician plays a Christmas song by tapping different pencil drawings on a huge canvas. Or maybe you want this to be a lobby art installation where people can interact with it.
Get creative! There are tons of ways you can bring special elements into the worship service that both add an element of wonder but also create a new sonic scape for your Christmas services.
What ways have you been creative with Christmas instruments in the past? Share in a comment below!