Music ministry thread

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mar09

Senior Member
Sep 17, 2014
3,679
164
63
#1
Occasionally i read abt people here involved in their church's music ministry, but rather far in between. I would like to start this thread to have your ideas, opinions and suggestions for smaller churches' music ministry where there are not really trained music leaders. I would appreciate those who have had experience in doing this, those who have been led by the Spirit and have had opportunity to help their church or other groups... but all are welcome. thanks!
 

Miri

Senior Member
Jul 22, 2012
7,989
826
113
UK age 49
#2
I’ve never been in a church where there was a “trained” music leader.
Its always started with group cooperation and one person who naturally
leads the group and we all muddled through.

Usually the person who comes up with the idea ends up as leader, so mar be warned. Lol :D


You do need someone who can coordinate things decide how to go about things
who others respect and are willing to go along with, it doesn’t work if everyone
wants to do there own thing with no cooperation.

Start small maybe with pianist and a flute player or guitar. Don’t feel it has to
be every Sunday either. Maybe start with the occasional Sunday.

When I was 18 I got the teens together one Christmas to play a carol. They loved it and
so did the congregation. I was on the flute then, we had a clarinet, actually 2 flutes,
plus the recorder and a few shaky banging things! I’m sure we made mistakes but
hey who cares sometimes it’s just good to have a go and build up confidence.


I was in a large worship team for 10 years playing the saxophone, but in the summer time
lots were away on holidays summer camps etc. Many times on Sunday it was just me
on my soprano saxophone and the keyboard player who could also sing, leading a congregation
of up to 700 at a time. (We had all the amplification etc but that meant all and any mistakes
were louder too!)

Sounds like it shouldn't work but it did. I had a good idea as to how the keyboard player led
and what he liked. He was happy and trusted me to improvise and he knew that I knew my
limitations, when to come in, when to shut up etc.

So another thing I would add is the importance of getting to know each other and
practising together. Getting to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and
playing to them literally.

When the entire team was together saxophone, clarinet, trumpet, drums, base,
guitar, rhythm guitar, lead guitar, keyboard, flute, main singers, chore. It actually
took far more working out and far more cooperation. Plus the leader used hand
signals a lot when to play loud, when to play quite, when to shut up, plus head
nods simple gestures.

Not to mention some verbal indications along the way so we knew when to go to the
bridge, verses, etc.

In fact the smaller the group the easier it is to organised! You can just play it by ear
in a small group and improvise more, where as a large group has to be very much
more disciplined and follow a set routine. Or it’s easy to pick a piece of music and
one person pick out the main tune while another picks out the harmony.

I once did a show piece with me playing my alto saxophone and a friend on the cello.
We did great is thy faithfulness. As both have a sort of wood sound (sax is a reed
instrument) and both have nice rich deep notes, it worked perfectly. We played around
with the main tune and harmony and kept swapping between them.

Another way of playing if you have lots of musicians is to let the keyboard and
guitar do their thing, which usually entails lots of chords. And if you have an
instrument like a flute or sax, to play something different in the gaps.

So like this chorus “great is thy faithfulness” da daa da. “Great is thy faithfulness” etc.

At one point in my teens I even played the piano accordion and led a few choruses at the
start of the church service once a month in a small church. It made a change from the
piano! I was a lot braver back then!

I suppose what im saying is give it a go, be ready to make mistakes and be ready to
learn along the way.

Ps when I made a mistake I just turned it into a blues note so people were none
the wiser. Lol
 

mar09

Senior Member
Sep 17, 2014
3,679
164
63
#3
That's precious, miri. I had to read ur reply again, and pick points. I have put in bold parts of ur reply, and italicized my answer, but this hasnt turned out very clear. Anyway, thank you very much.

I’ve never been in a church where there was a “trained” music leader.
Its always started with group cooperation and one person who naturally
leads the group and we all muddled through.

Usually the person who comes up with the idea ends up as leader, so be warned. Lol


You do need someone who can coordinate things decide how to go about things
who others respect and are willing to go along with, it doesn’t work if everyone
wants to do there own thing with no cooperation.

Start small maybe with pianist and a flute player or guitar. Don’t feel it has to
be every Sunday either
. Maybe start with the occasional Sunday.

When I was 18 I got the teens together one Christmas to play a carol. They loved it and
so did the congregation. I was on the flute then, we had a clarinet, actually 2 flutes,
plus the recorder and a few shaky banging things! I’m sure we made mistakes but
hey who cares sometimes it’s just good to have a go and build up confidence.

I believe this is so important. While it is playing before the Lord and not before others that is more impt, we do have to give of our best to the Master, and offer our best, but we still falter and make mistakes.

I was in a large worship team for 10 years playing the saxophone, but in the summer time
lots were away on holidays summer camps etc. Many times on Sunday it was just me
on my soprano saxophone and the keyboard player who could also sing, leading a congregation
of up to 700 at a time. (We had all the amplification etc but that meant all and any mistakes
were louder too!)

I understand that, and that is why would rather not stand in front and amplify all the mistakes esp when the key being played is different and requires more sharps and flats!

Sounds like it shouldn't work but it did. I had a good idea as to how the keyboard player led
and what he liked. He was happy and trusted me to improvise and he knew that I knew my
limitations, when to come in, when to shut up etc.

So another thing I would add is the importance of getting to know each other and
practising together. Getting to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and
playing to them literally.
Thanks for these in particular.

When the entire team was together saxophone, clarinet, trumpet, drums, base,
guitar, rhythm guitar, lead guitar, keyboard, flute, main singers, chore. It actually
took far more working out and far more cooperation. Plus the leader used hand
signals a lot when to play loud, when to play quite, when to shut up, plus head
nods simple gestures.

Not to mention some verbal indications along the way so we knew when to go to the
bridge, verses, etc.

In fact the smaller the group the easier it is to organised! You can just play it by ear
in a small group and improvise more, where as a large group has to be very much
more disciplined and follow a set routine. Or it’s easy to pick a piece of music and
one person pick out the main tune while another picks out the harmony.

I once did a show piece with me playing my alto saxophone and a friend on the cello.
We did great is thy faithfulness. As both have a sort of wood sound (sax is a reed
instrument) and both have nice rich deep notes, it worked perfectly. We played around
with the main tune and harmony and kept swapping between them.

Another way of playing if you have lots of musicians is to let the keyboard and
guitar do their thing, which usually entails lots of chords. And if you have an
instrument like a flute or sax, to play something different in the gaps.

So like this chorus “great is thy faithfulness” da daa da. “Great is thy faithfulness” etc.

At one point in my teens I even played the piano accordion and led a few choruses at the
start of the church service once a month in a small church. It made a change from the
piano! I was a lot braver back then!

=))

I suppose what im saying is give it a go, be ready to make mistakes and be ready to
learn along the way.

Ps when I made a mistake I just turned it into a blues note so people were none
the wiser. Lol
=))

Sometimes we long for more people to come for worship music practice, when in fact there is a reason the group is small… like we are being trained right where we are… But we long for a bigger group, more talented people, etc. We should really learn to be thankful for each other who are committed and able to come almost regularly! Not many are confident enough, or can spare the time now, esp those with families, and in our group of mostly younger people, only two have families/children.
 

Miri

Senior Member
Jul 22, 2012
7,989
826
113
UK age 49
#4
It is hard in that it takes up a lot of time, so it needs people who are
enthuastic, see it as fun (rather than a chore), often willing hearts are far better
than trained professionals. God can do a lot with willing hearts.

I remember one Sunday the stage was being used for a baptism service later that day, so
we had to move everything into an alcove next to the stage. The acoustics in there are
terrible all the sounds bounce off the walls and back.

It was also very short notice the people who were playing had to stand in at the last minute
so no time to rehearse before the service, we just got a list of songs and the key!

It sounded awful, the drums were really loud and no one could hear the keyboard player
who was leading as all the sound settings were wrong for playing in the alcove and there
was no time to properly adjust them.

I didn’t have a clue what to play one was a song I had never played before and as my sax
is a minor third I couldn’t even read the piano music. Just had to improvise somehow.
I usually end up having to play in 5 or 6 #s or flats!

Anyway we were all struggling and as the song came to the end I just felt that I should
blast out on my saxophone, don’t know why but I thought hey, it can’t sound any worse!

So I did, still don’t know why I did!

Then the keyboard player started plonking on the keys. Then wow, the Holy Spirit just
filled the place.

It was indescribable, we all fell silent and so did the congregation, apart from the occasional
person crying here or there. It was like waves rolling over and over across the room!

People started kneeling and sitting on the floor. The pastor just said “ lets spend some time
in His pesence” then stood back. We were like that for maybe 20 mins the scheduled
service just halted.

God can do a lot with enthuasim and a willing heart, far more than a professional know
it all!

We did at one point have a professional musician who played the trumpet at a playhouse.
He was brilliant, far too good for us!

The worship leader was so impressed with him she gave him the role of organising
the wind instruments. Only problem is that at the rehearsal mid week he would come
up with ideas, then completely change them by the Sunday service. He also wrote out
music just in his key only and forget about transposing for everyone else. Also while he had
3 days to practice it, we had 10 mins before the service!

It usually ended up with him playing on his own as the rest of us did not know
what he expected us to do. Another trumpet player a nice chap who was 23 played
the trumpet, he was good at what he did but got so discouraged and lost all confidence
so he left the team. Also a really good flute player just could never be heard above
the professional musician as he played continuously and never left anything for her
to do. So she kept getting frustrated. I just let them all get on with it. I’m not
bothered about having any big leading part.

It all went to pot for a few months, then the professional person left
and moved on when he got another job in a different part of the country,
leaving us to pick up the pieces with no trumpet player at all.

So the moral of the story, just because someone plays brilliantly it doesn’t
mean they are the right person to lead!

The leader needs to consider everyone and be willing to listen to God more than
they listen to themselves. :)
 

mar09

Senior Member
Sep 17, 2014
3,679
164
63
#5
Thanks again, M. Just give me time to reply=).
 

razor17

Senior Member
Aug 16, 2017
191
13
18
#6
Go with old hymns as a baseline/starter then slowly progress to new music/modern CCM stuff.....

The old hymns last long for a reason...they have timeless messages with usually good sound doctrine/tenets of the faith embedded in the lyrics....

Also find a specific chord progression for your singers...do they like the key of C, D, F, G or B....find what works learn the basic chords (the main chord, the 4th and the 5th using piano terms here) and then practice it with the entire band making sure they know the chord used and the progression as well.....

just for reference you can find better sites explaining it but this is what I'm referring to....

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chord_progression

learning this can help you play any song...


I helped lead church music worship service for 8 years.....and this is how I helped less experienced musicians adapt to playing in a band together...using chord progression because if you have had decades of music training (like me) explaining complex chords/notes to amateur musicians is not going to work...they understand chords...and will understand chord progression (like in the chorus of a song transitioning from line/lyric 1 C chord...to line 2/lyric 2 G chord)
far easier than individual notes/advanced music theory....

Worship Together | New Worship Songs Music and Resources

a good website above to practice chord progression using "tabs" or chords listed over lyrics and when to change them./progress to the next chord....

hope this helps :D
 

razor17

Senior Member
Aug 16, 2017
191
13
18
#7
Worship Together | Lyrics and Chords

this website has advanced more than back in the day when I used to use it...

you can now pick a song with a specific key and genre, mood etc...its pretty neat please check it out as it may help you :D
 

mar09

Senior Member
Sep 17, 2014
3,679
164
63
#8
Go with old hymns as a baseline/starter then slowly progress to new music/modern CCM stuff.....

The old hymns last long for a reason...they have timeless messages with usually good sound doctrine/tenets of the faith embedded in the lyrics....

Also find a specific chord progression for your singers...do they like the key of C, D, F, G or B....find what works learn the basic chords (the main chord, the 4th and the 5th using piano terms here) and then practice it with the entire band making sure they know the chord used and the progression as well.....

just for reference you can find better sites explaining it but this is what I'm referring to....

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chord_progression

learning this can help you play any song...


I helped lead church music worship service for 8 years.....and this is how I helped less experienced musicians adapt to playing in a band together...using chord progression because if you have had decades of music training (like me) explaining complex chords/notes to amateur musicians is not going to work...they understand chords...and will understand chord progression (like in the chorus of a song transitioning from line/lyric 1 C chord...to line 2/lyric 2 G chord)
far easier than individual notes/advanced music theory....

Worship Together | New Worship Songs Music and Resources

a good website above to practice chord progression using "tabs" or chords listed over lyrics and when to change them./progress to the next chord....

hope this helps :D
Thanks a ton, ult, for the tips. How right you are, and idk how it is w/ hymns, but with me, i did not grow up on them as we had a largely different set of songs sung in church we went to as a child, except for one or 2 i remember. By the time a grandma introduced one hymn, i was hooked (Praise to the Lord, the german hymn), i got me a hymnal in high school and started reading words and learning a hymn at a time, altho i still havent learned many as i lost the old hymnal in our moves.

Will check out the website u gave.
 

mar09

Senior Member
Sep 17, 2014
3,679
164
63
#9
Thanks again, M. Just give me time to reply=).
The longer the reply, the longer i take to process what others said... let me come back to ur post again, miri=))).
 

razor17

Senior Member
Aug 16, 2017
191
13
18
#10
Thanks a ton, ult, for the tips. How right you are, and idk how it is w/ hymns, but with me, i did not grow up on them as we had a largely different set of songs sung in church we went to as a child, except for one or 2 i remember. By the time a grandma introduced one hymn, i was hooked (Praise to the Lord, the german hymn), i got me a hymnal in high school and started reading words and learning a hymn at a time, altho i still havent learned many as i lost the old hymnal in our moves.

Will check out the website u gave.

Another great website I use for old hymns and sometimes they include midi/mp3 files of the tune along with history of the song writer/song .....

https://hymnary.org/
 

mar09

Senior Member
Sep 17, 2014
3,679
164
63
#11
It is hard in that it takes up a lot of time, so it needs people who are
enthuastic, see it as fun (rather than a chore), often willing hearts are far better
than trained professionals. God can do a lot with willing hearts
.

I remember one Sunday the stage was being used for a baptism service later that day, so
we had to move everything into an alcove next to the stage. The acoustics in there are
terrible all the sounds bounce off the walls and back.

It was also very short notice the people who were playing had to stand in at the last minute
so no time to rehearse before the service, we just got a list of songs and the key!

It sounded awful, the drums were really loud and no one could hear the keyboard player
who was leading as all the sound settings were wrong for playing in the alcove and there
was no time to properly adjust them.

I didn’t have a clue what to play one was a song I had never played before and as my sax
is a minor third I couldn’t even read the piano music. Just had to improvise somehow.
I usually end up having to play in 5 or 6 #s or flats!

Anyway we were all struggling and as the song came to the end I just felt that I should
blast out on my saxophone, don’t know why but I thought hey, it can’t sound any worse!

So I did, still don’t know why I did!

Then the keyboard player started plonking on the keys. Then wow, the Holy Spirit just
filled the place.

It was indescribable, we all fell silent and so did the congregation, apart from the occasional
person crying here or there. It was like waves rolling over and over across the room!

People started kneeling and sitting on the floor. The pastor just said “ lets spend some time
in His pesence” then stood back. We were like that for maybe 20 mins the scheduled
service just halted.

God can do a lot with enthuasim and a willing heart, far more than a professional know
it all!


We did at one point have a professional musician who played the trumpet at a playhouse.
He was brilliant, far too good for us!

The worship leader was so impressed with him she gave him the role of organising
the wind instruments. Only problem is that at the rehearsal mid week he would come
up with ideas, then completely change them by the Sunday service. He also wrote out
music just in his key only and forget about transposing for everyone else. Also while he had
3 days to practice it, we had 10 mins before the service!


It usually ended up with him playing on his own as the rest of us did not know
what he expected us to do. Another trumpet player a nice chap who was 23 played
the trumpet, he was good at what he did but got so discouraged and lost all confidence
so he left the team. Also a really good flute player just could never be heard above
the professional musician as he played continuously and never left anything for her
to do. So she kept getting frustrated.
I just let them all get on with it. I’m not
bothered about having any big leading part.

It all went to pot for a few months, then the professional person left
and moved on when he got another job in a different part of the country,
leaving us to pick up the pieces with no trumpet player at all.

So the moral of the story, just because someone plays brilliantly it doesn’t
mean they are the right person to lead!

The leader needs to consider everyone and be willing to listen to God more than
they listen to themselves.
:)
Thanks again, miri. I believe God putting the enthusiasm/willingness in hearts is part of people wanting to worship in spirit and truth. Esp for the Levites who had to lead in worship, how could one stand in front when the heart is elsewhere?

Thank you for the share on the particular worship service. As God inhabits the worship of His people, you'd think it is just like physical warfare, where the warriors run forth in battle, but this time with song and instruments. Suddenly i had in mind a battle where the soldiers find they are losing and think to retreat, but God gave one soldier boldness to lift up the flag and the rest fight again w/ renewed courage.

I see the leader should also be sensitive abt many things, like the keys songs are played/sung, for there is a range comfortable to a group, wc should change when the persons present for practice change. There was a sunday preaching where our pastor touched on how change can affect church and personal growth. Gave examples like when before the church may be singing only hymns, later there are more contemporary songs introduced, or when before there were no drums, now there are, etc. What i cannot comprehend or imagine right now is how to incorporate other instruments not usually used w/ the usual keyboard, guitars and drums. Who decides on the songs u sing? As there is only one practice session (weekend) per week, when is it a good time to inform the group abt the song lineup? We do need to talk things over, but i pray the Lord will lead to a good-- better! balance of both vocal and instrumental gifts to be used in harmony at worship time.
 

Miri

Senior Member
Jul 22, 2012
7,989
826
113
UK age 49
#12
What happens for us. Is that the pastor would speak to the worship leader and
explain the theme of the sermon and maybe ask for a specific song or two.
The rest were chosen by the worship leader.

Its important to know the theme of the sermon beforehand. It would be odd if all the
songs were jolly and exuberant but the sermon was about Job losing everything!
Ha ha

I’ve come to see the worship as really important it’s not just about a few songs
to fill in gaps in the service. They should compliment the service and prepare the
hearts of people to hear the sermon and worship God. I see the songs as prayer
put to music!

As for the key, that depends mostly on how high and low the worship leader
can sing and also what is comfortable for the congregation.

Its no good setting a song key high in the rafters if no one can reach those notes.
We had two main leaders a man and a women, so all the songs were in two keys
depending who was leading.

Mostly modern keyboard and guitars can be manipulated to play any key
as if they are playing on a simple key, via the use of capos and the settings.

Flute players generally have it easier as a flute is in key of C.

Other instruments saxophone, clarinet, trumpet need to be transposed.
If they play a lot they will get use to playing in different keys. It becomes
second nature after a while.

I got to the point where I could slowly sight transpose into a minor third, it’s not
as hard as it sounds. But I also use to do a combination of writing out my own
music, playing by ear, or just jotting down safe or home notes every few bars -
I knew if I hit those that I was playing in the right key as I went along and a made
up the notes in between!

Our rehersals were on a Thursday. Once we knew what key and what we were playing,
we took the music home and practiced before the service on Sunday. Then had a quick
10-20 mins run through before the service. Just a verse of each song.

Also when we had new songs, the worship leader gave us each a CD with the song and
a recorded version of the right key to follow. So we could practice at home.

We usually had a few goes at new songs before introducing them to the congregation.
We were lucky to have a lot of singers so the worship leader had a couple of good singers
she could rely on to teach the song to the rest of the singers and come up with harmonies.
They split off to learn their part during sessions.

The keyboard, guitar players had it easy as they got the written music. The instrumental
players had to come up with own harmonies. We would just take ourselves off in another
room during rehearsal and see what we could come up with when we had a lot of
musicians. But also we each had to come up with our own solos for Sunday’s when
maybe there was just one instrument playing.

Sometimes the worship leader would have an idea, sometimes things just
sprang out while we played and we came up with things.

Its important that everyone feels confident enough so they can contribute and
suggest ideas. It’s also a great way of drawing out shy quiet people and giving
them more confidence.

As a group we also spent time together in prayer or just
our own little worship times before hand, jamming sessions where we could just play as
we felt led and bring things we had learnt and join in, improvise together.
It didn’t matter if we messed up it wasn’t part of the main rehearsal.
Often one person would start to play or sing something, then others would join
in at different times.

Those times were brilliant, people really did grow in confidence and we could be silly
together and grow in ability.

Occasionally we use to go out together as a group as well, picnics, etc.
Spouses could come as well and their children, it helped to gel,the group
together.

Being part of a worship team, should be fun, not a drag! Lol

If new people wanted to join they had a brief audition. Nothing complicated.
just to make sure they could actually play and song. Then they joined the
team for 2 months playing singing etc at rehearsals but not on Sundays.
That gave them time to try it out and see if it was for them or not. Plus
to also get to know the music and how things were run.
 
Last edited:

mar09

Senior Member
Sep 17, 2014
3,679
164
63
#13
"I’ve come to see the worship as really important it’s not just about a few songs
to fill in gaps in the service. They should compliment the service and prepare the
hearts of people to hear the sermon and worship God. I see the songs as prayer
put to music!"

Essentially, this is what i see too=).
 

mar09

Senior Member
Sep 17, 2014
3,679
164
63
#14
What happens for us. Is that the pastor would speak to the worship leader and
explain the theme of the sermon and maybe ask for a specific song or two.
The rest were chosen by the worship leader.


As for the key, that depends mostly on how high and low the worship leader
can sing and also what is comfortable for the congregation
.

While some men can play instruments and sing, often women lead the singing too. But i often find myself shifting an octave when part of a song is too high or too low for me personally=). I guess we need to learn to adjust the keys of songs more, depending on who leads. New/young instrumentalists can sometimes only play in the key in wc they learned a song, and might need more training/practice.

Its no good setting a song key high in the rafters if no one can reach those notes.
We had two main leaders a man and a women, so all the songs were in two keys
depending who was leading.

Mostly modern keyboard and guitars can be manipulated to play any key
as if they are playing on a simple key, via the use of capos and the settings
.

Yes, it shouldnt be too hard when we know there are capos et al.

Flute players generally have it easier as a flute is in key of C.

Sometimes u wish they played it all in C, haha, but of course they won't!

Other instruments saxophone, clarinet, trumpet need to be transposed.
If they play a lot they will get use to playing in different keys. It becomes
second nature after a while.

I got to the point where I could slowly sight transpose into a minor third, it’s not
as hard as it sounds. But I also use to do a combination of writing out my own
music, playing by ear, or just jotting down safe or home notes every few bars
-
I knew if I hit those that I was playing in the right key as I went along and a made
up the notes in between!

Our rehersals were on a Thursday. Once we knew what key and what we were playing,
we took the music home and practiced before the service on Sunday. Then had a quick
10-20 mins run through before the service. Just a verse of each song.

It is good u have the chance to write music... sometimes we do not or cannot in fact practice much at home, and so the church sessions are so important.


The keyboard, guitar players had it easy as they got the written music. The instrumental
players had to come up with own harmonies.
We would just take ourselves off in another
room during rehearsal and see what we could come up with when we had a lot of
musicians. But also we each had to come up with our own solos for Sunday’s when
maybe there was just one instrument playing.

Not many even read music and they mostly use chords, but that is very impt part in learning w/ others, having the written music and words.

Sometimes the worship leader would have an idea, sometimes things just
sprang out while we played and we came up with things.

Its important that everyone feels confident enough so they can contribute and
suggest ideas. It’s also a great way of drawing out shy quiet people and giving
them more confidence.


Yes, how important... Maybe our worship team leader is a bit shy too... that is why he struggles some to encourage or draw out others who are more shy??!

As a group we also spent time together in prayer or just
our own little worship times before hand, jamming sessions where we could just play as
we felt led and bring things we had learnt and join in, improvise together.
It didn’t matter if we messed up it wasn’t part of the main rehearsal.
Often one person would start to play or sing something, then others would join
in at different times.


Being part of a worship team, should be fun, not a drag! Lol

There, i just took away some paragraphs to lessen scrolling down! Thanks again, miri.
 

mar09

Senior Member
Sep 17, 2014
3,679
164
63
#15
I helped lead church music worship service for 8 years.....and this is how I helped less experienced musicians adapt to playing in a band together...using chord progression because if you have had decades of music training (like me) explaining complex chords/notes to amateur musicians is not going to work...they understand chords...and will understand chord progression (like in the chorus of a song transitioning from line/lyric 1 C chord...to line 2/lyric 2 G chord)
far easier than individual notes/advanced music theory....

hope this helps :D
Let me get back to ur post... so was ur church a big- or medium-sized one? You were talking abt training amateur instrumentalists only, or did u mean singers as well-- who did not read notes=)? Did u have mostly western music, or other kinds as well?