Interesting topic here. Hopefully some of you wanting to introduce your church to sacred sax playing in church may be interested in what happened in my case.
I attend a small 150 - 200 member church that had no exposure to instrumental music in the church outside of the piano and organ. (bty - do you know that some churches STILL don't allow a piano in the worship service because it was used to entertain in bars and brothels???? ...but that's another story....)
I went to the music director and asked to be put on the list to perform. He wanted to hear what I had in mind so I made arrangements for piano accompaniment and began to play a very familiar hymn. The accompanist stopped mid-song and exclaimed "Your not going to play it THAT WAY are you?!?!?"
That was 2 years ago.... I started a little mellower and have been gradually introducing more and more "lively" arrangements of familiar hymns. Everybody LOVES them! Some even go to my Facebook page and ask for more! Today we have a mini orchestra playing every Sunday and more and more people are getting excited about good Christian music!
Just start out slowly and help them learn...
I play classical sax, and have actually performed many songs in church. In a stuffy baptist church of all things...=) But again, I'm not going crazy with it, I'm just playing classical sax, jaxx would probably be less well-received.
I agree with Saxguy, the ill-repute conotation that comes with sax (especially blues/jazz) will probably precede you in any church other than a fairly contemporary setting.
My quartet did perform an arrangment of "let there be peace on earth" that I did that was kind of bluesy 40's style, and I didn't get too much flack on that.....but again, it was classical blues, not sunglasses, scotch and pasties blues....=P
Pretty sad really. I bump up against a lot of prejudices like this in christian circles and I don't get it. I remember a short while ago relatively speaking, any sort of rythmn where music's concerned was frowned upon as being of the devil etc etc.
Time to roll with the punches
It’s a no win. People have their opinions, prejudices, preconceptions and life experiences that they hold onto with an iron grip. It doesn’t make any difference on what we think and we are not going to change their thinking, unless we have walked in their shoes. And, since the majority of the objectors have walked more miles than we have, it’s best not to judge. Other people have lived through things that we haven’t and that doesn’t make them wrong.
It not a matter of who’s right. It’s a matter of what works. And, if a saxophone doesn’t work for them, then that’s the way it is. There is no divine right to expect that people in church think that we are the greatest or even half way decent. No matter how good we are. Either the music we put out there says something or it doesn’t. If our music doesn’t say anything to the people in the pews then it might be time to find a different group of people that feel you have something to say. Otherwise, it’s just a power play.
There is no answer. However, as far as answers go, Al “Jazzbo” Collins may have had it all along. God rest his soul.
As always - Peace,
You know you have mastered the soprano saxophone when the snake stays in the basket.
I concur with the notion that you might be trying to fit a round peg into a square hole. Tread gently Saxacussionist. This might not play out like the Whoopi Goldberg movie about the hip nun-impersonator.
I've never had any "Devil's Instrument" comments in over 40 years of playing guitar, sax, whistle, harmonica, disgeridoo or cardboard dulcimer in church. But it's always happened somewhere.
I remember in about 1968 being invited to a small tin tabernacle where, notoriously, the pastor forbade guitars for their devilishness. I was interested to hear what would happen instead, and was surprised to find the pastor's wife doing a good line in syncopated hot piano: Satan had evidently shifted his ground since the thirties.
And way back in Victorian times, the good Presbyterians of Scotland were offended by David Sankey's sinful American harmonium, which they disparagingly termed his "kist o' whistles." Before that the violin was Hell's chosen soundtrack.
Conversely, of course, musicians are quite capable of pushing their musical rights to the detriment of worship: I hear of a vicar not far from here whose church band of schoolgirls with flutes and clarinets live in fear of his drowning them with Metallica guitar.
There is a different ethos in worship music compared to performance (even in a church setting): you can have great fun doing both, but in worship the whole key is "service". In performance I like to push the boundaries. In worship I strive to toe the line.
It's an ill wind that blows nobody down a long lane which has no silver lining.
it may appear, to some, that the more conservative/strict/rigid a believer is, the more rediculous they are, but that's not the whole story. a true fervency and zeal for the faith could lead all kinds of ways, but today enables access to the scritpures, in modern language, so that folks can discover the truth (if desired). the scriptures don't support instrument prejudice. style may be more of a gray area, depending on the area and audience, but i can hardly understand how blues/jazz/some rock cannot be accepted nowadays. unless, of course, there are inappropriate/unfitting lyrics and/or the same sort of movements/attitudes.
just saying this because i get tired of outsiders thinking that the more devoted one is, the more rediculous they get. or the only good christian is the one who isn't zealous. KNOWLEDGE and WISDOM are scriptural, and those are the key to many, many blessings.
ahhhh, but everyone's afraid of that one dissatisfied customer. the complainer. gotta hand it to pastors/preachers for surviving past a week.
if you could hear what i hear, you'd like it a lot better than what i play.
I played on tour with Joyce Meyer Ministries for three years back in the 90's and always had great responce playing my saxophones. I have had to learn that every church is different and I have to adjust to the style they are used to. I have to play everything from hymns to high energy praise and worshinp. Not everyone will enjoy hearing it, even in the same church. I hope this helps.
Dear Brothers in Jesus name,
I am leaving in Germany and here the resistance against the Saxophone in church is unfortunately still very high..
I appreciate any help/support/links to groups in Germany where Tenor Saxophone is accepted/appreciate/tolerated..
I keep a web site on “Sax for Jesus” (only the URL is in german)
where I am putting there links and tips for playing saxophone in worship .. and will also link some of those I found here.
My son (Trombon, 12) gave me a card (Card 21746 from J Kawohl-Verlag)which recalls Psalm 150 with the following words:
Everything what breath, praise the Lord.
Praise him with Violins, Flutes and Saxophones,
with Guitars, Xylophones and Symphonic orchester,
praise Him with Blues, Jazz and with spirituals.
Everything that breath, praise the Lord.
Looking forward your tips/advice/prayers
Last edited by saxfuerjesus; 07-03-2010 at 01:18 PM. Reason: forgot a detail
I like your web site. It has some interesting and informative things. By the way, my father was Italian, but not my mother. Do you play other instruments? I am blessed to be able to play keyboard well enough to play in church. It's much more well accepted. I also play guitar a bit. I love to play the sax but when I play in church it doesn't seem to matter to much what I play only that I get to play.
thankyou for your kind words and sorry for the delay in replying. Yes, I played piano for over 30 years, and in the church for about 2-3 years but then I got a problem in my right hand and switched to Saxophone. Playing saxophone is less demanding on my right hand (and is MUCH easier than piano, sorry !)
new things are happening, and hopefully in a month or so I will be able to report about new ways to serve G-d with saxophone ... stay tuned (more infos will be posted on my web site as soon as I have them).
Praise the Lord !
I have never been told that I was going to hell for playing the sax. I have possibly been told I play like hell or to go to hell for the way I played.
And skillfully and with a loud noise...
Ciao. [ KennyD01 on YouTube ] -->1923 Conn New Wonder Alto Sax #118,108 +Pomarico Crystal M/P -->1947 Conn 444N Big Bore Bb Clarinet #B324663L +Pomarico Diamond Crystal M/P -->1967 Boosey & Hawkes Edgware Bb Clarinet #288,983 +Mitchell Lurie Crystal & Master by Gregory Hollywood M/P
I'm Southern Baptist and we have an "orchestra" with a tuba, baritone, trombone, tenor sax, alto sax (me), 4 trumpets, French horn, 2 flutes and a clarinet but no strings .
(alto) SA80I - meyer 6m - jodyjazz hr* 6m- rovner dark - vandoren 3
RooPads rule!!(seamless resos)
no doubt the sax can be used to express and inspire good things, and has a place in church.
ithe accordian is the real danger.
if you could hear what i hear, you'd like it a lot better than what i play.
Missionary Baptist here. And the orchestra that I lead and compose for has two trumpets, two french horns, a clarinet, tuba (euphonium), 1 trombone, tenor sax, my hot wife on flute/piccolo, and me on sop sax or tenor depending on the piece. My wife, daughter, son and I also mix it up on a few additional instruments too.
Buescher 400 Tenor, Pre-War Big-B Aristocrat Tenor, True Tone Alto, Conn New Wonder Bari, Antigua 590 Soprano
I had the good fortune to come to Jesus 30 years ago through the ministry of a black Pentecostal church that had an incredible choir. It was the home of some major talent, including the DeBarge family and Marvin Sapp. But I didn't know anything about any of that. All I knew was, I'd had a life-changing experience with Jesus and I was in love with God. And while I was just a white kid in my early twenties, the sax made a place for me in that African-American church, and the brothers and sisters there took me in with open arms. They definitely believed in making a joyful noise, and they loved my sax playing.
My journey took me to other churches, both black and white, and I never once ran into a place that didn't welcome the horn. In that respect, I've been very fortunate, because I'm well aware of how some believers spiritualize and proof-text their prejudices regarding music. While I never had anyone criticize me for playing the sax, still, as someone who got involved in praise ministry pretty much from the get-go, I've experienced other forms of judgmentalism and fear, along with some pretty exalted eisegesis, that revolves around music.
After all these years, I've arrived at a few convictions. One is, there's no such thing as Christian music; there are only Christians. Music doesn't get saved; human beings do. I'm not sure when the word "Christian" began to be used as an adjective, but originally it was a noun, and today that remains its most faithful usage. "Christian" as a descriptor tends to become more a marketing niche than anything else, and has helped foster--if not outright created--some of the distorted thinking about music within some branches of Christianity. Bring that to bear on playing the saxophone, and the question isn't whether a person is playing a holy versus a profane musical instrument, but whether the musician's heart belongs to the Lord. That's the issue.
A saxophone is simply a metal tube that helps shape sound waves of a particular range and timbre. Are those sound waves Christian or secular? Kind of a ridiculous question, isn't it. Similarly, if I were to play a C major triad on the piano, I defy the most musically austere believer on the planet to tell me whether that triad was a sacred triad or a demonic one--or, if they did venture an opinion, to tell me what, objectively speaking, makes the difference. They can't, not without flat-out lying in a way that says much about their own heart and nothing about the music.
Ultimately, all music is God's property. But the same can't be said for every heart. It is the heart that sanctifies the music, not the music that sanctifies or desecrates the heart. If your heart belongs to the Lord, then play your saxophone with freedom, joy, and passion, and don't let anyone's legalistic, bad theology trouble you. What you do, you do for the King. That's what counts.
Visit my jazz sax and storm chasing blog, Stormhorn.com.
I have played sax in Praise and Worship for over twenty years in three different churches. I have been blessed to play with Phil Driscol and Hilllsongs of Australia. In the recent years Praise/Worship has changed to a more of a guitar-centric style led by are overseas friends at Hillsongs United. Younger inexperienced-ministry musicians have replaced the more formally trained Music Ministry Pastors. The sax has been replaced by cellos, violins, EWI's, and lots n lots of guitars. I know alot of horn players that are now in other ministries or sitting on the bench waiting to be called back to the music ministry.
The transition was kinda abrupt for me. One day we were told that our Music Pastor was replaced by a 20-something up and coming leader. It was not the same after wards. No matter how hard I tried it was hard to sit through Praise and Worship. I was not fulfilling my calling.
We tried another church due to our oldest son being diagnosed with Aspergers. This new church had professionals that could meet our son's needs. I auditioned for their music ministry. The young music minister did not have a clue how to integrate me into the group. I was invited to play for an Easter Service. With only a lead sheet in hand I played what I thought was appropriate....weaving in and out in between phrases...never on top of the lead vocalist or lead guitar. The leader turned to me and motioned to me to stop playing....in the middle of a song!!! I felt sooooo embarrased and after Praise and Worship was over I packed up my sax and walked out. Later I was given the "we will call you speech"....three years have passed and I have not heard from them.
After so many years of awesome ministry work it ended on a sour note.
MacSax Empyreal Alto Sax, Drake DRJA 5 mpc w/ Double Rail Vintage Resin Ligature
MacSax Soprano, Drake DRJS 6 mpc Double Rail Vintage Resin Ring Ligature
MacSax Classic VB Tenor Sax, Drake Son of Slant 7 mpc w/ Double Rail Vintage Resin Ligature