Musicians On A Budget: Make the most of your gear as a church keyboardist
What is your Rig like? This is usually asked within the 1st minute of a conversation between keyboardists, or musicians in general.
And we get a lot of responses that range from keyboard sizes, 88 keys, 77, 61, 49, even 25. We also get a myriad of brands like the Yamaha, Roland, Korg – the triumvirate of household keyboards. And also the lesser-known brands like Casio, Davis and other brands you can buy from the usual mall or our friendly store at Raon.
Of course the other common response is – “I actually don’t have one.”
Some churches have a donated keyboard that’s so run down, you either have keys that don’t work anymore or keys that get annoyingly stuck and you get this weird note prolonged as if it were on sustain. And then you day dream about that keyboard you saw in the music store and wonder how on earth will you come up with 240K to buy that Kronos, or 140K for the latest version of the RD series from Roland. You may settle with trying to figure out how to raise 25k for a 61 key Roland from the xps series.
What really matters?
So what now? Pray hard, if you’ve been praying, pray harder! Sometimes, the Good Lord will provide the resources needed… sometimes, He gives us something better: a heart of Worship and Wisdom! Believe it or not, a worshipping heart goes a very long way. If your focus is in giving God the worship He deserves, then you make do with whatever equipment you have. Your mind shifts from making sure you press the right keys to making sure God is pleased with your Heart – assuming you practiced and rehearsed properly.
But wait, what about the wisdom part, how does that come into play? You will then realize that the expensive gear you have been longing for is not the be-all and end-all of your worship/music leading prerequisites. There is another way!!!
Introducing you to the world of soft-synths.
A software synthesizer, also known as a softsynth, is a computer program, or plug-in that generates digital audio, usually for music.
They usually don’t cost that much for up to intermediate players. All that’s needed is a working laptop (I think everybody has one nowadays – even a desktop will work), an Internet connection so you can download stuff that’s required to make the software run. Talking about software (or the softsynth itself) there’s an abundance on the internet, the more famous ones include Mainstage, Omnisphere, MK Sensation, and those that are free like: Komplete Kustom, IK Sample Tank and a multitude of others (you just need the time to browse or look for it, because there’s a lot – Article on 50 of the best Softsynths).
Another thing that’s required is a keyboard controller. It’s a device that looks like your usual piano keyboard but does not produce any sound from within the device, unlike your PSR, RD, or X5, the keyboards we grew up with. How it works is pretty much like an analogy of a typewriter and computer keyboard. On a typewriter, what ever letter you press is instantly embedded on the paper. While on the computer, the letter you press on the keyboard gets translated into bytes and bits understood by the cpu and on the screen you see the word you typed in a font or letter style you set it to look like. Then you print it. This is pretty much how soft-synths work too. Pressing a key sends signals to the computer, which in turn sends out the correct note on the instrument you specified. Neat huh? A good controller will cost you not more than 15k (Here are some great options).
On a tight budget
There’s pre-loved stuff at OLX and Ebay that’s cheaper and they actually work well. A MIDI Controller (that’s the proper name for it) has few electronic parts than the usual hardware keyboard (because most of the electronics are on the laptop as software) so buy with confidence.
I’ve seen pre-loved controllers going out for 6k, and if you can you can still haggle or bargain with the seller for a more favorable cost – maybe he’ll throw in a USB cable, or a keyboard stand.
Let’s do the math now. Controller – 6K, computer – 0 cost (or if you want to upgrade the RAM, 3K), software – free (unless you want to do some heavy stuff). So that’s less than 10K, right?!
And there you have it, God working His mysterious ways through technology! No more reason to not serve God with all our heart, mind, strength and music!
And did I not mention, there are soft-synths you can use on tablets and smart phones – who doesn’t have a smart phone at this age in time? (Here is a video of Jordan Rudess using a tablet and controller)
No more excuses guys, start Worshipping!
(Article written by Noel Gumapac)