18 May 2024

Easter Music Course 2024: Time to reflect on music with meaning

Andrea Porter and Jon Harris

A photo shows the delegate from Easter Music Course 2024.

Andrea Porter (Oakengates) and Corps Sergeant-Major Jon Harris (Forest of Dean) report from this year’s Easter Music Course.

Andrea Porter: Music with meaning

With quickened pulse I entered the doors of the King’s Park Conference Centre as a first-time delegate of the Easter Music Course.

Many questions passed through my mind. Would I be a good enough musician? Would I fit in? Would I know anyone there?

From perusing the itinerary, I instantly became aware that the course would itself become a musical composition.

The rhythm of activities such as singing, banding, Bible study and fellowship would form the motif, centred on the theme Go Back to the Old Wells.

Bible study helped to develop the theme, accented by laughter, friendship, blessings and shared meals.

A photo shows an Easter Music Course 2024 brass rehearsal.

The tempo of the week pulsed through the activities, as the rallentando of relaxation in quiz night and leisure time was punctuated by the occasional staccatos as a baritone player’s chair threatened to collapse!

The ad lib opportunities of the talent night, Dance Fit and timbrels led to self-expression, while the adagio of mealtimes blessed our bodies.

Everything enriched and developed the week’s theme as the composition took form.

Music leaders gave technical teaching to help us improve our singing and playing, but more than just to improve our performance or aim for perfection; we were led to a greater understanding of the soul and meaning of the music.

‘Encouragement’ and ‘reassurance’ were two buzzwords to help us improve our skills as musicians, and also to grow as Christians and effective witnesses to glorify God through our music and words.

Jon Harris: Time to reflect

Easter Music Course was significant, as it allowed real space to be still. To help you understand the depth of its impact, we need to start back in 2023 at my first Easter Music Course, in its ‘quiet afternoons’ when we were able to sketch, draw and take time to reflect.

The end result for me was a clear picture and vision for our corps. I’m not an artist but this time spent away with music, with God and with great friends provided a perfect window for God to reveal this garden picture to me.

The picture depicts many aspects of ministry in the Forest of Dean, and critical themes of love, unconditional acceptance, inclusion and openness of church. It speaks of offering refuge and protection but also practical support. mentoring and building people up to be stronger, confident and knowing their worth and value.

A photo shows an Easter Music Course 2024 vocal rehearsal.

At this year’s course, the Bible study and theme was around revisiting old wells and reconsidering the stories of Jesus’ encounters in a new light. The well in my picture is significant, as from this constant flow of water, we see the patchwork blanket where people find they belong, affirming that same vision I had one year on.

I shared the image with the corps the week after last year’s course, and we have kept revisiting it, looking for new ways to support our community with a pioneering spirit and drive.

At Easter Music Course 2024, I shared the picture and story behind this profound encounter with God and the exciting journey that has continued since. I have made lifelong friends through this special week and I have enjoyed all the music-making but, for two years running, this week has given me the space to breathe, be still and be inspired.

It will be great to see new faces at Easter Music Course in 2025, but in the meantime, what is God’s picture for your corps and community?

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