News from the Tennessee Valley Religion

Is organ music out of style?

By Melanie B. Smith · 340-2468

Many churches are abandoning organs and using keyboards, guitars and other band instruments for “praise and worship” music.

Do people still want to hear pipe organs in worship services?

Ron Bean, music minister of Hartselle First United Methodist Church, said many definitely do.

“I don’t think you have to give up or abandon where you’ve come from to embrace what’s new,” he said. “What we do in this church is minister to a broad variety of needs of people.”

Hartselle First Methodist has praise band music for services in its family life center. Services in the sanctuary include organ and piano music.

Bean said there is much in contemporary music to embrace and “a lot of traditional music we need to use as well.”

Tom Ed Moore of the music department at the University of North Alabama said the organ community has concerns that church music is taking “almost a top 40” approach today.

“Churches are trying to emulate an entertainment factor when worship is supposed to be a different atmosphere, a different direction,” he said.

Not all contemporary music is bad, he said, but it should not replace hymns that reflect years of faith.

Moore has had as many as 13 organ students but now is teaching two, he said. No student is majoring in organ at the school, he said.

Fewer organists are in training partly because there are fewer piano students, Moore said. A piano background is necessary to learn the organ, he said.

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