THQ Music kicks off fall rehearsals

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West’s Music Department holds online rehearsals.

Music is a Salvation Army essential, creating an atmosphere of worship that invites the Holy Spirit’s presence. Amid the pandemic, with live rehearsals impossible, the Army has adapted by moving to online rehearsals. The West’s Music Department offered virtual meetings this fall for the territory’s musicians.

“Ever since we’ve been shut down, the Territorial Music Department has been determined to keep promoting music and arts groups and events across the territory,” said Territorial Music Secretary Neil Smith.

The need to bring people together virtually to make music became apparent after the summer—a time when many Salvationists traditionally attend music and creative arts camps, which did not happen in 2020.

“THQ [Territorial Headquarters] Music decided to take the lead and encourage participation across the territory,” Smith said. 

The department invited musicians from throughout the territory to join a series of one-off rehearsals for band, songsters and worship teams. Leaders were Smith (band), Matt Woods (songsters), Lt. Colonel Lisa Smith (worship), John Opina (worship) and Marlon Jones (worship). Intermountain Divisional Music Director Rick Potter and Lt. Colonel Douglas O’Brien shared devotions. The rehearsals took place over two weeks on Zoom.

Dozens of people attended online from across the territory—from Homer, Alaska to Denver—and all points in between. They rehearsed, only able to hear the session leader and themselves.

“They worked hard and played along and accomplished what once we would have thought impossible: an almost 70-member brass band, 50 songster members and 30 worship team participants, sharing together, at the same time, across the miles of our vast territory,” Smith said.

Those who came expressed appreciation.

“Online THQ rehearsals were great,” said Tustin (California) Corps Officer Captain Cheryl Kistan. “Neil was great in facilitating the rehearsals and Rick Potter gave an excellent devotional. In the age of social isolation, we are missing the fellowship with other musicians but this gave the opportunity for us to do so. We also played some new music. Looking forward to the next one!”

An important part of the experience was the sense of community among the participants.

“One of the worst effects of the pandemic has been separation from people,” O’ Brien said. “Seeing and speaking with friends during Zoom rehearsals just helped restore some normality to our lives and was so appreciated. And of course the rehearsals were a big help in jump-starting readiness for our next music season.”

With no idea when in-person meetings will be possible, the online rehearsals accomplished a lot.

“Many corps and divisions now have some plans for getting together this fall, but the THQ Music project was a success and who knows—maybe we’ll do it again,” Smith said. 

Find more on Facebook at THQ West – Music & Creative Arts.

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