We all have heard “two are better than one”. We are constantly reminded of it when we play sports, do a group project or even when we go to a wedding. Yet, for a long time I noticed that within the creative musical process this idea of “two are better than one” was strongly discouraged. Many artists thought of the creative process as a very personal journey of expressing “my feelings”, “my vision” to others. This in turn had transformed the process of song writing and arranging into a solo act. People in search of personal notoriety had hijacked creativity for vain personal gain.
Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that people do not continue to use creativity for vain personal gain, but what I have noticed is that the creative world continues to see an increase in the number of artists collaborating and uniting to create new songs and arrangements. This new movement away from a “solo act” and more towards a group dynamic is starting to permeate many if not most songwriting circles within Christian music.
When we began working on this Christmas Album: “Tell the Story”, we knew that this was not going to be a solo act. It was going to be a solid collaboration between all people in our team. Therefore, when we went on our writing retreat in February of 2015, we did not go into separate rooms with a list of ideas in order to come up with something. Rather, we went into a large room (FC Gardens Campus theater), turned down the lights (of course) and began to seek God’s face and his will for this album. At first, we all had many different types of ideas and individual thoughts. Yet as we began to talk more and more about what we wanted out of this project, we came to the realization that we just wanted to be anchored in Christ. We wanted to use our gifts in order to lift the name of Jesus and to see Him draw all men to himself. We realized that we could bring him more glory and honor by working together and allowing all the gifts He has given us to work in unison than by each one of us trying to do it on our own.
It was then that the fun began. We started with the whole group arranging 2 songs on the first day. On the second day, we split into smaller writing teams of 2 or 3 in the morning and then switched the teams in the afternoon. This yielded amazing fruit. We were able to arrange the rest of the songs in the album by the second day. After every small group finished an arrangement, they would show it to the rest of the team. That was always the highlight; just to see the way that God had gifted these folks to work together and come up with something unique and special.
We found ourselves cheering for each other, excited for what God was doing through each group and open to any changes to the songs in order to make them better.
This process brought our team closer together. It was truly collaborative and it taught us how to appreciate and respect each other’s ideas. Nobody in our team felt like they had more say than others within an arrangement. We were all equal parts in the creative process. The reward was not just a great song or arrangement but also a stronger relationship and bond with our colleagues.
In this journey I have realized that we are able to bring glory to God not just through the music He allows us to create, but through the process that led us to crate it. Our desire as songwriters and arrangers should not only be to bring glory to God by the song we have created but rather to bring glory to Him in the way it is created. Musical collaboration is not easy but it can be incredibly rewarding when we allow different people to use their God-given gifts for one purpose.
If you are a songwriter, arranger or simply just a “creative”, I would encourage you to join with other like-minded friends and come up with something truly special.