|Côte d’Ivoire event promotes cross-cultural music|
Eileen Guenther (right) teaches students to play keyboards
during a United Methodist Global Praise training event at the Methodist
Cocody in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. UMNS photos by Isaac Broune.
By Isaac Broune*
Aug. 21, 2008 | ABIDJAN, Côte d'Ivoire (UMNS)
Cross-cultural sharing to enhance United Methodist music ministries
across the globe was the focus of a week-long training event at the
Methodist University of Cocody in Côte d'Ivoire.
Thirty-five United Methodists from the church in Côte d'Ivoire and an
international team of musicians engaged in reciprocal teaching and
learning Aug. 3-10. The event was organized by the Global Praise program of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.
Global Praise emerged as a United Methodist mission initiative in the
1990s to gather, receive and share the songs of Methodists and other
Christians around the world.
Abraham Mandan, the youngest participant, learns to play the piano.
An overarching concept is that the church is indeed global and that
all parts need to be familiar with the gifts of music that various
cultures contribute to the whole. This is especially true for
Methodists, who belong to a Christian heritage born in song.
Sharing gifts of music
Bettsy Curtis plans to take back to North Carolina the new drum
rhythms and Ivorian Christian songs she learned to use with elementary
school-age students. She directs music ministries at Wesley Memorial
United Methodist Church, Wilmington, and works with fifth-graders in a
performing arts magnet school.
Eloise Bodje, a 20-year-old Ivorian with no previous experience in
music, made impressive progress in piano skills—"the equivalent of six
months of intensive courses," according to Jacques Kangni, a Togolese
organist with 15 years of experience.
Ivorian Methodist worship incorporates many musical idioms, according
to Michael Hawn, a professor of church music and director of the Master
of Sacred Music Program at Perkins School of Theology, Dallas.
"There is a wide variety of songs from Anglican chants to traditional
hymns, gospel songs and short choruses, a lot of singing in worship,"
said Hawn. "It is impressive to see how the whole body is involved in
songs, not just the voice, how spontaneously a director can continue and
vary a song longer in the Spirit. All these are gifts from the Côte
d'Ivoire United Methodist Church that we need in the United States."
At the same time, the Ivorian church is in need of music leadership,
greater skills in teaching the wide variety of songs, and training in
electronic keyboards, which are growing in popularity across Africa.
Global Praise brought 10 electric keyboards to leave with the church in
West Africa. Abraham Arpellet, director of the National Board of Music
in Côte d'Ivoire, has set up a ''strategic plan to do the follow-up in
order to increase the current level so that, in a 12-month time-frame,
all the students can play all the songs in the churches.''
With no prior musical training,
Eloise Bodje, 20, begins to
develop new skills.
Hawn and the Rev. Debra Tyree, a Global Praise staff member who is
minister of music at Bellevue United Methodist Church, Nashville, Tenn.,
hosted two groups in voice development and choir conducting. They
taught music theory, promoted the use of new songs and shared techniques
for effective leadership during worship.
The Ivorians learned how to sing ''Alleluia'' in languages from Syria, India, Zimbabwe, Argentina and the Caribbean.
Attie Agovi Lazare, a 25-year-old musician, anticipated the training
will lead to qualitative and quantitative changes in the two choirs he
leads: M'Pouto United Methodist Church with 45 members and Locodjo
United Methodist Church with 150 members in his mother's village. He
also wants to improve the music skills of the children of his local
Cross-cultural teaching and learning
Visitors from the U.S. and Europe learned about the use of
traditional Ivorian dance in worship. Their teacher was Daniel Konan, an
expert on traditional dance with 11 years' experience teaching at the
National Institute of Music, Drawing and Performing Arts.
Every day, following morning devotions led by the Rev. John
Thornburg, a hymn text writer, participants separated into four groups
to attend various classes.
The Global Praise team included:
- Jorge A. Lockward, Global Praise program coordinator and
co-founder and conductor-in-residence of Cántico Nuevo (New Song), a
worship and arts ecumenical project in New York City;
- The Rev. Debra Tyree, business manager of Global Praise and
minister of music at Bellevue United Methodist Church, Nashville,
- Michael Hawn, professor of church music and director of the
Master of Sacred Music Program at Perkins School of Theology, Dallas;
- Eileen Guenther, president of the American Guild of
Organists, associate professor of church music at Wesley Theological
Seminary and lecturer in music at George Washington University, both in
- Bettsy Curtis, director of Music Ministries at Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church in Wilmington, N.C.; and
- The Rev. John Thornburg, an accomplished hymn and anthem text author.
They were joined by:
- The Rev. Martin Heider, Lutheran pastor, composer and musician from Germany;
- Godfrey Taylor, author and organist from Jamaica; and
- Simei Monteiro, worship consultant at World Council of Churches, Geneva.
On the Web: www.globalpraise.org
*Broune is a United Methodist communicator for the Côte d'Ivoire Annual Conference.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or email@example.com.
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