IMMC 2023: Professor of Musicology implores Pastors to deliberately invest in choir


Prof. Albert Oikelome

By 'Gbenga Bankole

A call has gone to Ministers of the gospel to deliberately invest in the choir of their churches in order to have an excellent choir. 

A Professor of Musicology and Performance Studies, Department of Creative Arts (Music Unit), University of Lagos, Prof. Albert Oikelome said this yesterday while ministering on the topic "Achieving Excellence in Music Ministry Through Sound Doctrine" at the 2023 International Music Ministers' Conference holding at Olashore Hall, Joseph Ayo Babalola University (JABU), Ikeji-Arakeji, Osun State.

He noted that the best churches can produce any other thing but if they don't invest in choir, they are missing it. 

While saying the church should invest in good sound system, he said that any church that wants its sound doctrine to go out must invest in sound system.

Prof. Oikelome further said the Choir Master should have a say on who controls the sound, adding that the church needs a good sound engineer to manage its sound. 

The Don urged the choir to diversify their ministrations, having it in mind that they are singing to both old and young, saying they shouldn't focus their ministrations on the youths alone.

On factors that aid quality music, the Musicologist said the musicians must be musically literate and they should strive to know how to read music through knowledge of music theory.

He further said that voice training is one of the factors that aid quality music, explaining that it is vital to all choristers, any voice that is not adequately trained will rust and be damaged with time.

Other factors that aid quality music according to him are; rehearsals, song selection, versatility, flexibility and performance.

On the importance of sound doctrine, Professor Oikelome said; "singing is a function of two elements-the Music and the Lyrics. The sound of our music talks about our dexterity and skills. But our lyrics talks so much about our belief. What we stand for and the message we portray. The sound must support the message in all ramifications. A beautiful sound laden with erroneous teaching destabilizes the church and what it stands for. That is why it is important to understand not only how the music sounds, but also what the music says."

He told the music ministers that the major focus of their songs should be on the triune God, anything below that falls short of the purpose of ministry. 

"Godly music can only be performed by God's messenger. God can use you in spite of you. But that will end up destroying you if he does not approve of you. That is why the message must come from the owner of the message to the messenger. It is the lyrics of the scriptures laden with the beautiful music that blesses the people. Anything short of that is noise. Godly music contains God's message, that is, message of worship and praise, message of God's love to a dying world, message of transformation and redemption and message of healing and encouragement. They are Songs that reflects the scriptures in all ramifications. Every nation, tribe or creed has its own music styles. But the constant factor in the equation is the word of God. You can re-order the songs, bring innovations to the music but please, don't CHANGE the word of God under any guise. The sound can change or be modified but the word of God must be constant," he noted. 

He further said to the music ministers: "be wary of beautiful songs with questionable lyrics. The devil is now subtly bringing false teachings into the music of the church, and we should attempt to discourage it at all cost. If the song does not agree with the tenets of the faith, we should avoid it. It is poison! Every music minister must be grounded in the bible. Your choice of songs is based on your convictions. Produce a new song. But make sure it is scripture based, and not taken from the encyclopedia of human reasoning, nature, tradition or the streets. Godly music is strategically chosen to act as a complementary agent to the preacher. It makes the work easy for him, not difficult."

According to him, the following are criteria for songs selection: "does it seek to glorify God? That is the primary purpose of Music in the church. Does it have musical worth? Don't bring to God any sacrifice that would not cost you anything. Do they align with the teachings of the scriptures? Is the music appropriate to the setting of the listeners?"

He concluded that; "it is important to stress the need of the 'God factor' as we pursue excellence in the music ministry. Without Him, we can do nothing. The power of the music is seen when the skills meet with the spiritual preparation of the singers."

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