“Singing in the Choir is not an activity, it’s a ministry!”
The above quote is one we often hear from Choir Director Roy Yanagida. It helps to explain why First Baptist Church of Honolulu and great music have become linked together. Powerful, wonderful, moving, touching…these are also words used to describe our music ministry. We seek excellence in our music ministry…not perfection. By that we mean we want to encourage those who are called and gifted to this ministry to “give God your very best” believing that He is deserving of no less. The following areas are the current opportunities for serving the Lord at FBCH with gifts of music.
The Chancel Choir
The Chancel Choir provides a wonderful opportunity for people who may not feel gifted or called to sing a solo or even a duet to join their voice with others to lead the congregation in worship. Members of the choir enjoy a camaraderie and fellowship that leads to lasting friendships. The weekly rehearsal provides a midweek break from the routine that is part of our busy schedules. While seriousness and hard work are part of rehearsals there are blessings, fun and laughter that are also often shared. As we rehearse together each week we also find that we pray together, cry together, care for and minister to one another. We also learn together… we learn basics about music 101, and we learn about God’s redemptive story and scriptures which furnish the theme for our musical selections. Through-out the week, choir members may be heard humming or singing the song to be presented in worship on Sunday, thinking about and internalizing the message of the songs we sing.
The Chancel Choir rehearses Wednesdays at 7:30 pm seasonally… in the fall, beginning in August we begin preparations for a Christmas Cantata and singing once a month in the Sunday morning worship service. After a short break in January, rehearsals resume in February to prepare for Holy Week and monthy participation in worship services. After a two week break following Easter, the Choir resumes rehearsals to prepare for two more presentations (Mother’s Day & Memorial Day) before ending the season the end of May.
For 30 years Roy Yanigida was the band director at Central Middle School. For 20 years he has been and continues to be the conductor and principal oboe in the O’ahu Civic Orchestra, also playing in the Honolulu Symphony for 7 years. He brings this rich musical experience to his role as director of our Chancel Choir. His knowledge, love and appreciation of music are only surpassed by his love for the Lord and His Church. More recently Roy has added Oboe repairman to his musical resume’. Roy enjoys fishing and coin & stamp collecting. He and his wife of 53 years, Carolyn, have a son and daughter, three grand-daughters and a new great grand-daughter.
Questions & Answers
Q. I don’t read music. Is that a problem? A. No. You will not be alone. Some of the current Choir members do not read music. We help each other.
Q. How do I join? A. Indicate your interest to Roy, and attend a couple of rehearsals to see if it feels like a good fit.
Q. What if I don’t know what part my voice is? (Soprano, Alto, Tenor or Bass) A. We’ll seat you by an experienced and kind choir member who can help you determine where your voice fits.
Q. What if I have to miss a rehearsal or a Sunday performance? A. It happens. Just let Roy know ahead of time, if possible, when you will not be able to be there.
Q. Will I have to be in the Choir for the rest of my life? A. Yes, once you’re in there’s no way out! Just kidding…some choir members, in the past, have just been part of the choir for one or two seasons. Maybe they only wanted to be part of the Christmas Musical for instance.
On the Sundays the choir does not sing, soloists, instrumentalists, duets, instrumental ensembles, etc. provide “special music”. This also contributes so much to making our worship service meaningful each week. God has blessed this small congregation with a proportionately large number of very gifted musicians, but unlike some churches, where there is little or no opportunity to get plugged in, we will welcome you with open arms.
Our Sunday morning worship service is a nice blend of the traditional and contemporary. Hymns, accompanied by the organ and piano, the choir in their robes, an occasional responsive reading, all these might be considered more traditional forms of worship that are part of our service. The Praise Band, under the leadership of Jazzy Skurtu, brings that more contemporary feel as they lead a set of worship songs & choruses each Sunday. Our Praise Band consists of lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar, key board, piano, drums and 4-5 vocalists.
The Praise Band rehearses Mondays at 6:30 pm year-round. On Sunday mornings the Band meets at 9:30 am for a sound check and a quick run through of the morning’s set.
Praise Band Leader
Jazzy Skurtu was born and raised in Texas. At age 15, she and her family moved to Hawaii. Jazzy has had a natural love for music from a very early age, singing even before she could speak. That love for music led her to learn to play the guitar 13 years ago, eventually earning a degree in guitar performance from the University of Hawaii at Manoa where she now teaches guitar performance. When she is not leading the worship at FBCH, she is traveling the world [READ MORE] playing music with ukulele virtuoso Taimane Gardner. In her free time Jazzy enjoys surfing and riding her motorcycle. You can learn more about Jazzy and her musical abilities and interests on her website www.nightbloommusic.com