I’m really not concentrating this morning as we drive to TWIST for day 2. In fact, I’m just thinking about the pleasant vanilla scent of Tic Tacs as you pop them into your mouth (as I had just done) when we sail on past the Pennant Hills Road exit. “Was I supposed to get off there?” “Yeah.” “Oh.” After a few turns around, we eventually get back to the Kings School and head up to the main hall, hearing the strains of music from within.
The Kings School is absolutely massive (set on over 300 acres of land, according to their website). Coming from a small, inner-city school that (at the time) was located in an ex-factory, it’s pretty eye-popping to wander around this exclusive, wealthy boys’ school with so many facilities. In fact, even though there are no boys from the school around on the weekend, it feels weird being a girl at a boys’ school. Things like having to use the boys’ toilets and being overwhelmed by the persistent smell of urine in the grim toilet block; you can just picture some tiny boy being victimised at lunch time by those much bigger than him (I eventually found nicer ‘visitors’ toilets in the newer buildings). Or the posters and displays of inspirational men throughout history in the Centre for Learning and Leadership. Or the crude representations of male anatomy graffitied on classroom chairs and tables – I guess it goes to show that the old adage is true, boys will be boys, no matter where they go to school.
We learn a couple of new songs again (I especially like one of Mark Peterson’s new ones that we did at NTE last year, The day will come (though I’m not sure I like the arrangement of it on Come Hear the Angels Sing, the latest Emu album)). One of the key ideas behind this year’s conference is ‘The Naked Church’, borrowing the idea from Jamie Oliver’s Naked Chef. Basically they’re saying that we have such wonderful raw ‘ingredients’ that this year’s TWIST is designed to strip it all back, and rather than just presenting us with the finished product, they show us different ways of putting things together to create a delicious, nourishing ‘meal’. So, for example, they played In His Image and each verse played it in a different style just to show us how easy it was to completely change the feel of a song.
But the one I really enjoy is when we sing Crown Him with Many Crowns with the same melody and words as always, but with a really upbeat rock feel. It gives what is usually a very solemn, stately song an injection of energy and vibrancy that has everyone dancing around. It just shows you don’t have to do songs the same way each time, that there is a place for doing the traditional hymns in a traditional style, but also for changing things up a bit.
Dominic’s talk builds well on yesterday’s. I’ve got written at the top of my page “Before you think about the volume of the guitar, you need to think about the heart of the band”, which I think is a good summary of yesterday’s talk! Today’s passage (1 Cor 14:1-25) is mostly about gifts of prophecy and speaking in tongues. Dominic said that although some churches make it a very public thing, speaking in tongues is a private form of communication with God that does nothing to help those who are listening because it is unintelligible. It’s especially alienating to the visitor or outsider. So similarly, with music and the way we structure our church services, we need to be mindful of whether we are serving people, whether we are playing music to build others up, or whether we’re doing it to make ourselves look good. He said, “I don’t see that there’s any place in church for a Latin chant.” (basically because nobody speaks Latin, so what help would it be to get people to sing something they can’t understand) “Sure, you might have the best Latin chant ever…sing it at home! Don’t bring it to church!”
After morning tea, there’s a special concert for kids’ music, with lots of kids and parents who have come especially for it. Ben Pakula plays first, and totally rocks out with songs from his excellent new album, A Very Special Tent. This is a Christian kids’ album for kids who aren’t really into the…gentler kinds of kids music. This is for kids (and maybe parents) who love their guitars loud. I had had the privilege of listening to some of the album last week when we went to Ben and Stacie’s for lunch, but it’s just as good on second and third listenings (one of my favourite lyrics of Ben’s is “Thank you God for lollies! (and for giving me a good toothbrush”).
After Ben’s bit was the J is for Jesus concert. It’s a bit like the Christian version of the Wiggles or Hi-5 (though I should be loathe to compare anyone to Hi-5, I dislike them so) – the little kids absolutely love it. They’ve all heard the CD so many times they know all the songs and the bits when they’re supposed to sing really loud. Sarah, Julie and Matt muck around and ham it up, showing a completely different side to themselves than the one they display when they lead the adult singing.
We head outside for lunch. The weather is totally opposite to yesterday; it’s cold and drizzly. But we find a step under an awning and eat our sandwiches. Then it’s off to workshops. I’m in Sound Recording, led by Rob Smith. He’s friendly and warm and I learn a couple of tips and tricks about amateur recording, though I realise that I have learned quite a lot already by just teaching myself how to use GarageBand. It’s much more helpful than yesterday’s seminar, though, and inspires me with the possibilities of what I can do with my dinky little home set-up. Though I think I’m actually going to have to buy a proper microphone one of these days.
There is a huge rainbow arcing over the campus as I walk back to the car. Mum joins me from her songleading workshop and we head home. I briefly toss up going to church, but although I’m not quite as tired as yesterday, I realise I just need to get inside and have a rest. Maybe I’ll go and have a hot bath.