How to serve your CU's events week as a musician
Every year, your CU either puts on, or is part of a bigger (perhaps citywide) effort that puts on, a week of events, where the gospel, the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ, is proclaimed clearly, persuasively, and faithfully. This "mission week" is a key opportunity for your friends to hear and to respond to the gospel. And yet. So often, these weeks come and go, and even if we had good intentions, things just seemed to get busy, or we just forgot to ask anyone, or, actually, we weren't even sure how good it would be, so didn't bother, keeping a low profile around CU that week...
In this article, various UCCF staff workers give advice on how you can best serve (and indeed make the most of) your CU's events week as a musician. Indeed, there were variations upon just three themes:
1. Plan well
- Hannah Knight (CU staff worker for the Royal Northern College of Music and University of Manchester): Take time to plan: When do rehearsals work well with events? Can you bring some friends with you? Why not cook together after a rehearsal and then go together. Be brave: invite your chamber group. Be courageous in prayer: ask God to bring people in whom he’s already working. Be human: if you show you care and are genuine friends, that they aren’t your competition or project, they will be much more likely to come.
- Peter Harris (UCCF Wales Team Leader and alumnus of the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama): Look at what you can do not what you can’t. Time at conservatoire is precious but there will be gaps in the day.
2. Be there
- Laura Prime (Music Network mentor in Oxford): It’s worth making the extra effort for this one week. An events week is a unique opportunity - there will be more events than usual, and your Staff Worker will likely be present, and possibly other CU helpers who your friends can talk to if you don’t feel confident enough to answer their questions by yourself. Your degree lasts 3 or 4 years – this is 5 days. People do come to faith as a result of these weeks!!
- Peter Harris: Don’t just think through music-tinted glasses. You don’t see other students stop serving because of their degree so perhaps you could help out in a ‘normal’ way. Hospitality, sound, decoration. Be a servant first, musician second.
3. Use your (musical) gifts
- Joe Smith (CU staff worker for the London music colleges): One way to serve may be in hosting the event, i.e. presenting fromt he front - it's often something music students are better at! But the biggest and most obvious way to be of use is to offer artistic and musical skills to be features of the events. Quality live music is never a bad thing! You could even get some of your non-CU mates to come and play!
- Laura Prime: For example, at the beginning of the event as people are seated, or as an interlude halfway through, you could play some songs that relate to the theme of the event that day/evening. People will often engage with a message in a song in a different way than they would a normal talk. It could serve as a really helpful and enjoyable way to get people engaging with the subject before the talk even begins, for example.
- Peter Harris: If you are playing, use it as an opportunity to invite friends. Some students won’t come to a Christian event but will support their mate in playing to a live audience - use that!
- Chris Axford-Amer (CU staff worker for (and alumnus of) the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland): If you’re providing music for an event, try not to treat it too much like a performance. Be willing to be unseen / background music: Don’t take it to heart if you aren’t the centre of attention, or if nobody seems to appreciate you! Be content that your efforts are furthering something that could see more people in eternity. Try not to be a perfectionist: A little dose of perfectionism can be helpful but not if it stops you contributing at all. Be content with what you can offer, and don’t be disheartened if it isn’t an A1 performance. You are able to enhance mission, so don’t allow a sense of imperfection stop you volunteering! Be willing to lose some artistic integrity: Your job is not to impress people either with virtuosity or extreme ‘tastefulness’. Be willing to play something that suits the event. If most people that are coming along are likely to be untrained musicians, try and accommodate them - play something well that suits the feel of the event and best serves those the CU are reaching, even if you think it’s cheesy. In short, have a good perspective of yourself.
One final word...
- Chris Axford-Amer: You are a part in the body of Christ, and your priority should be to adorn the gospel in the most helpful way. The goal is to demonstrate Christ, not your musicality. It can be hard to unwire ourselves from the perspective of our music degrees, but doing so enriches others, ourselves, and the most important news in reality.