All thanks to God for the approval and establishment of Music Ministry in our dear Church, Methodist Church Nigeria, by the Conference. In this direction, the works of our forebears, John and Charles Wesley, especially in the area of music, shall never die. This is a good decision in the right direction and in a good time.
It was the Directorate of Evangelism and Discipleship, then led led by The Rt. Rev. Edoka Amuta (Connexional Secretary for Evangelism and Discipleship), that prompted the birth of the Department of Music (Music Ministry) when the Directorate organized The Maiden National Retreat for Music Directors and Choir Masters held between Wednesday 14th to Saturday 17th September, 2016 at Methodist Theological Institute (M.T.I.) Sagamu, Ogun State. At the end of the Retreat the following resolutions and recommendations were adopted:
- That hymn singing should be given more pride of place in our worship life and our children and other young people should be encouraged to take to hymn signing.
- That a music department should be set up at the conference level to work directly with the Bishop of Evangelism and that highly skilled personnel should be engaged to coordinate its affairs.
- That Ministers should be given adequate training from theological schools on how to read notes and music via a professional musicologist.
- That the church should endeavor to sponsor Ministers for courses in music in tertiary institutions.
- That the Church should look into establishment of Music Schools at Regional levels where all choir leaders will be constantly trained in character and spirituality.
- That Music leaders and instrumentalists should be appreciated with recognition awards or monetary rewards or remunerations.
- That indigenous composition of Hymns should be encouraged.
- That regular workshops and retreat for choirmasters, choristers and organists should be encouraged at the Diocesan level while that of Archdiocese should be every other year.
- That the church through the Directorate of Evangelism and Discipleship should set up an M.C.N Orchestra.
- That the church should devise a policy that will encourage a synergy between Ministers in charge and choristers in every local church.
- That in line with the standard global practice the following relevant topics should be included in the music course curriculum:
- How to Read Music
- Composition and Song Writing
- Art of Conducting
- Pronunciation and Enunciation in Music
- Choir Management and Discipline
- Spiritual Formation for Music Ministers
- That National Retreat once in two years, while Archdiocesan or Regional retreat in alternate year.
- That music department concept should be incorporated in the constitution under review.
- Set up Music Department at Conference Level to work with Directorate of Evangelism and Discipleship.
- Engage a skilled and professionally trained person as coordinator.
- Run School of Music at Regions in 2017 and on a regular basis
- Set up a Methodist Church Nigeria Orchestra
- Recognition and remuneration of instrumentalists in our Church
- Praise is spiritual dynamite that doesn’t fail anytime
- Training of Choir in character and spiritual life
- Music Training should be made compulsory in all our Theological Colleges
- Methodist School of Music should be established.
- Consider incorporation of singing of hymns in our Youth Churches because of the foreseeing difficulty in integrating them to the main Church.
- Encourage hymn singing during family worship
- Teach the hymns to our children
- Let us begin to compose and compile our own indigenous hymns and form our own hymnody.
- Singing should be emanating from the Church 24 hours a day, not only during worship.
- This retreat to be repeated regularly.
- Periodic workshop for choirs, organists and instrumentalists.
- Ministers should have cordial relationship with the choir and musical band, and give value to their importance in church worship.
The above resolutions and recommendations were then presented to Conference for a possible establishment of the Department of Music for effective Music Ministry in contemporary Methodism, especially in Nigeria. To the glory of God, this request was approved at the Conference held at Abuja in 2016. That was the birth of the MusicMinistry in Methodist Church Nigeria. But then, the Department did not take off effectively since there was no Co-ordinator.
It was during the Conference Posting of 2017 that The Very Rev. Dr. Isaac Udoh (Kcw, JP) was appointed the (First) Conference Co-ordinator, Music Ministry to build up the Unit. The Unit is to operate under the Directorate of Evangelism and Discipleship.
Many may wonder the need for this Department since we have choristers and we usually sing our hymns, though sometimes in our own way. But there are some salient issues and challenges/problems that should be pointed out.
- Methodism was born in song, but we have left our legacy by not protecting it enough and have relegated our pride (in the area of song) to the background. Other churches seem to lead in this regard. There is, therefore, need to claim back our lost heritage.
- The singing of hymns (properly) with the correct/set tune is left to chance most times in most of our churches. Some of those that can sing the set tunes do so with some wrong notes. This error must be corrected.
- Music or the singing of hymns in contemporary Methodism in Nigeria is left to the choristers who only lead at important services. This should not be so. An average Methodist should be able to sing Methodist tunes correctly without mutilation.
- Another challenge is poor Voice Production and poor Pronunciation/articulation (words not clearly heard and not pronounced well) during music presentations (especially in choirs). This should be checked and corrected.
- Sometimes, music Adjudicators spoil the business of the day at Music Competitions. They adjudicate wrongly and think they are correct. There is the need to train our choirmasters/choir directors/choir leaders, etc. on this arduous task to perform creditably well when occasion demands.
- Most of our Organists vamp on the organ and do not play the correct notes as written for all the parts. It is mostly in the West (Of Conference area) that true Organists are found (or hired) who play the hymns as written. A few are found in other parts of the Conference area. This should be a concern for the whole Conference area.
- Our dear Church has not ventured into orchestral playing. (Orchestra is a musical organization consisting of a group of instrumentalists including string players). Other Churches have taken over in this regard, and such include The Salvation Army, Deeper Life, Mountain of Fire Ministries, to mention a few. Our Church can rise to this challenge.
- Some of our members have ventured into the composition of hymns with good lyrics but with the problems of (i) poor end rhymes (or near end rhymes), (ii) wrong poetic meters in some lines, (iii) texts not poetic and (iv) problem of syntax, among others. In other words, some of the hymns composed by our members do not meet the global best practices for hymn writing. Such works may only be used locally. This should be corrected.
- Our Band Equipments and Public Address Systems in some of our Churches are not functional or not functioning well. This should be looked into. More so, there is need to train our band boys, instrumentalists, chorus leaders and leaders of praise/worship to function well in line with global best practices (in music) in this contemporary modernism.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE DEPARTMENT
The recommendations earlier mentioned form the basis of our aims and objectives. They include (and not limited to):
- To turn all the above problems/challenges into a stepping stone and truly keep the flag of our forbears flying especially in the area of music through serious training/seminars that would cover the following areas (and more):
- How to Read Music.
- Composition and Song Writing.
- Art of Conducting.
- Pronunciation and Enunciation in Music.
- Choir Management and Discipline.
- Spiritual Formation for Music Ministers
- To help our Choristers, Organists, instrumentalists and music enthusiasts to read and perform music correctly with staff notation (and sol-fa notation where applicable).
- To help (Choirs) in the area of Voice Training/ Production and articulation.
- To train Music Adjudicators to meet up with the current demands in this area.
- To help our congregation to sing Methodist tunes correctly without mutilation.
- To help our chorus leaders, praise team, leaders of praise/worship to be up to date and deliver the best.
- (i) To help in the establishment of Orchestra in our Churches. (ii) To teach how to use music soft ware (e.g. Sibelius) in the scoring of music, especially for the orchestra, the choir and for other purpose(s).
- To give our composers/hymn writers the necessary training so that their compositions/writings may meet the accepted (international) standard anywhere in the world.
- To establish Methodist School of Music and run School of Music at Regions in 2017 and on a regular basis.
HOW TO ACHIEVE OUR AIMS AND OBJECTIVES (INTENTIONS)
- As a stepping stone to the establishment of Methodist School of Music and running of School of Music at Regions, the Music Department has come up with a book, THE METHODIST CHURCH NIGERIA CORRESPONDENCE MUSIC COURSE. It is in stages, from Level One to Level Six.
- This Correspondence Course would help Methodist enthusiasts (in music), Choristers, Organists, other instrumentalists, composers/hymn writers, music adjudicators, etc, to gain a firm grip in the right way to read/play music (rudiments).
- This would be a stepping stone to vocal and instrumental music (Composition/hymn writing inclusive).
- One has to buy the book from Level One and register for the Correspondence Music Course. At the end of three months, examination shall be set (based on each Level) and marked. Successful Candidates will be given Certificates and will move to the next Level. This will also come with practical experience.
PLEASE NOTE: For the Book (MCN Correspondence Music Course), Level One to Three cost N1,000 each (without postage) or N1500 (with postage). Level Three to Six cost N1,500 each (without postage) or N2000 (with postage). Examination Fee and the cost of Certificate is N1,000.
- As regards the Orchestra, the Church or spirited Methodists/individuals are requested to buy/donate musical instruments for the take off of our proposed Orchestra at Cathedrals or Circuit headquarters, for a start. Such instruments for a smooth take off include (and not limited to):
(a) Flutes (Four or more) (b) Clarinets (Four or more) (c) SopranoSaxophone (two or more) (d) Alto Saxophone (three or more) (e) TenorSaxophone (two or more) (f) Trumpets (six or more) (g) Trombone (two or more) (h) Euphonium (two or more) (i) Tuba (two or more) (j) Electronic Keyboard (one) (k) Violin (six or more) (l) Viola (two or more) +(m) Cello (two or more) (n) Double Bass (one) (o) Drum set (one).
PLEASE NOTE: (i) The Church/the spirited individual can buy the instruments and arrange for instructors for a smooth take off. OR
The Church/spirited individual can contact Music Department, MCN to help in the purchase and/or training under arrangement.
PLEASE NOTE: (ii) THE DEPARTMENT OF MUSIC SHOULD BE INFORMED OF SUCH DEVELOPMENT FOR PROPER MONITORING/FOLLOW UP.
Where possible, the individual player can buy his/her instrument.
3.(i) Seminar/Conference shall be organized from time to time by the Department of Music for training and retraining of members. For example:
(a) Choristers in the area of music reading, Voice Training/production and pronunciation. (b)Music Directors/Choirmasters in the area of music reading, choir directing/conducting. (c) Organists/other instrumentalists – to play correctly and move from amateur to professional.
(d) Composers/Hymn writers to function well as composers/hymn writers.
(e) Music Adjudicators in the area of adjudicating well at Choir/Music Compositions with professional touch.
(f) Training in the installation and use of Music Software (e.g. Sibelius) for SCORING music for Orchestra, for choir or for any other relevant purpose(s). OR
- (ii) Archdiocese/Dioceses/Circuits can initiate the arrangement for Seminar/Conference and invite the Department of Music for the Training/Resource Persons at their convenience.
- Training of Organists/ Buying of Organ with Pedal
(i) Our Organists should be trained to read staff notation correctly and not sol-fa only.
(ii) Where there is no trained Organist, the Church should hire one for the main time.
(iii) Our Cathedrals and/or Circuit headquarters should try their best to buy ORGAN WITH PEDALS (and not just Keyboard).
- On the area of knowing and singing correct/set Methodist tunes:
(i) This can be achieved through regular seminar for choirmasters/choristers.
(ii) One Sunday a month (during Sunday School or any appropriate time) should be given to learning of new Methodist tunes. This can be done between 20 to 40 minutes or there about.
(iii) Each Methodist Church should have at least a copy of the METHODIST HYMNBOOK WITH TUNES (possibly both staff and sol-fa notation). This would help in singing any tune correctly according to the notes.
(iv) Efforts should be made by Choirmasters/Choir Directors, etc, to correct Methodist tunes that are wrongly rendered or mutilated.
- We hope to see any Cathedral/or Circuit headquarters/church to present the first Orchestra in MCN on or before June, 2018. Such will be recognized with ‘a Certificate of Honour’. Strive to be the best and the first.
It is time to wake up from slumber and face the task that is properly before us. Rome was not built in a day, equally we cannot achieve all in one day. A good start, like this, will surely take us the desired level in the area of music. I, therefore, request all and sundry to support this noble course so that we can stand tall in the mist of Churches in the area of Music for METHODISM WAS BORN IN SONG. All hands should be on deck. Refuse every spirit of doubt, fear and backwardness. Reject every TOBIAH and SANBALLAT. With God we can achieve our goals in the shortest possible time.
POINTS OF NOTE
- The book, ‘CORRESPONDENCE MUSIC COURSE LEVEL ONE’ was published in early 2018. It costs only N1,000.00.
- The book, ‘BLUEPRINTS FOR EFFECTIVE MUSIC MINISTRY IN CONTEMPORARY METHODISM IN NIGERIA was also published in early 2018.
- The Department, in conjunction with the Directorate of Evangelism and Discipleship had a Maiden Workshop and Interactive meeting of Church Music Leaders in March (14th 17th2018) at MTI, Umuahia. Also there was a Regional Training in Church Music: South West Region in June (13th – 16th) 2018. The Department hopes to cover the other Regions (North, South South and South East Regions) come 2018.
- The Programmes of the Departments are clearly stated in MCN Calendar of Events, 2019.
- The Department is working with Directorate of Evangelism and Discipleship.
- The only person appointed by Conference is the Coordinator, THE VERY REV. DR. ISAAC UDOH (KCW, JP).
- Dioceses were requested to appoint one person as Coordinator at Diocesan level, but that has not been achieved as most Dioceses have not responded. In other words, there are no Officials except that of Department of Evangelism and Discipleship and the Coordinator appointed by Conference.
- Our official email address is .
- The Coordinator’s GSM nos. are 08037800907, 08184118943
- All enquiries should be directed to the Coordinator, or through the Directorate of Evangelism and Discipleship.