The Salvation Army Music Programs
The Salvation Army’s music ministry began in 1878 in Salisbury, England when the organization’s founder, William Booth, asked Charles Fry and his three sons to attend then open-air meetings in order to protect those in attendance from the street “hooligans”. Since the Frys played brass instruments, they decided to accompany the hymns at the open-air meetings. This served as catalyst for the first Salvation Army brass band. The Salvation Army is now synonymous for its brass bands the world over. Through the years, The Salvation Army’s love of musical expression has grown and now includes choirs for all ages and timbrel brigades.
The Salvation Army Brass Bands are divided into three levels based on age and skill.
- Beginner Band – individuals of all ages can learn to play a brass or percussion instrument.
- Youth Band – young people from age 9 to 25 can build their musical skills.
- Senior Band – ages 16 and up may play at an advanced ability level.
Some churches may also have a String Band allowing those that play guitar or other stringed instruments to play together.
The Salvation Army choral groups are also designed to serve children and adults alike. There are four basic groups in the Salvation Army. These groups are generally determined by age.
- Cherub Choir for children age 3 to 6
- Singing Company for ages 7 to 12
- Youth Chorus for ages 13 to 18
- Senior Songster Brigade for Adults
Some Salvation Army churches also have a Praise & Worship Band which incorporates contemporary Christian music into the worship service using vocalists, piano, guitars and drums with the occasional wind instrument helping out.
Salvation Army Timbrel Brigades refers to synchronized patterns (called drills) played on a tambourine, often combined with dance steps, and set to music. Timbrel brigades, which are open to all ages, are usually divided into three categories based on skill level, beginner, intermediate and advanced.
Summer Music Conservatory Program
A unique aspect of Salvation Army music in the Maryland and West Virginia Division and throughout the Southern Territory is its Music Conservatory program. This is a concentrated 3-4 week long program that allows young people to learn more about their instrument and the Bible. Students learn proper playing technique on their respective instrument in a band setting and are also required to participate in Chorus and study Music Theory. Each student receives several lessons each week on their instrument of choice. Elective classes are offered to diversify the daily schedule allowing the students to learn an additional skill outside of their major area. Classes that are offered vary from year to year but might included Hand bells, Guitar, Timbrel, Recorder, Conducting and Drama. The students travel to Salvation Army churches in the area on Sundays to perform, as well as lead and participate in the worship services, thus enhancing their leadership abilities.
The Maryland and West Virginia Division offers some advanced opportunities for service outside of the local church.
The Baltimore Brass Band is a brass band made up of adult and advanced youth musicians from Cambridge, Maryland to Martinsburg, West Virginia. They rehearse weekly and play several concerts annually in the Baltimore Metro Area. The BBB also provides brass ensembles that play at Annual Civic Dinners and provide Christmas music for various Christmas Kettle Kick Off’s.
- The Northern WV Brass Band consist of adult musicians who live in West Virginia’s Northern Panhandle.
- The Divisional Youth Band, Divisional Chorus known as JOY, Divisional Timbrel Brigade, and the Divisional Creative Movement group known as ACCLAIM, are constructed of young people from Salvation Army churches throughout the Maryland and West Virginia. These advanced performance groups meet several weekends throughout the winter for music instruction and rehearsal in preparation for performances at Salvation Army events.