South, other territories partnering in production of online music courses
By: Brad Rowland
For a time during the 20th century, The Salvation Army operated a bandmasters’ correspondence course aimed at educating and developing the next crop of music leaders in corps across the globe. When that program faded, it was not replaced with a worldwide stand-in, but the Southern Territory and its counterparts elsewhere in the United States and Canada are coming together to provide a new wave in leadership development.
For years, the South has been active in arming leaders in the territory, particularly through leadership courses focusing on instrumental choral, creative arts and worship team performance at the Territorial Music Institute. Still, this was not a year-round entity, and that potential gap inspired a new initiative.
“I felt we needed something that was ongoing throughout the year that could really help people that were leading, or wanted to lead, groups in their corps and around the territory,” said Nicholas Simmons-Smith, territorial music secretary.
Because the quartet of partner territories – USA Central, USA West, USA East, and Canada and Bermuda – are producing similar resources and evaluating similar ideas, the decision was made to avoid duplication, instead focusing on the pooling of resources toward a productive mission. Specifics are still in the works, but the overall goal and outlook is clear for a series of online leadership courses.
“We’re grateful for the help and support of the other territories in getting this off the ground,” said Simmons-Smith. “It is important that none of us try to recreate the wheel. We can spread the workload efficiently, and this should benefit everyone as we try to build the kingdom through the arts.”
Courses are in development with several focuses, including brass band, beginner band instruction, choral, singing company, worship team, worship planning, dance, drama, sound, visual media and what Simmons-Smith terms as “anything that can help the corps improve their worship.” They will include a series of short videos, designed in sequence form and with graded assessments along the way. In addition, the curriculum will allow students to move through the journey at their own pace to allow for full comprehension and implementation.
The program aims to begin delivering resources in September. Each territory will be responsible for a handful, with the potential for cross-over and partnership within courses.
“Our goal, really, is to equip people in the corps to be leaders,” Simmons-Smith said. “One of the hardest challenges is finding good local leaders. Our divisional directors work very hard at equipping leaders, but we feel like this approach will be able to reach more people in an efficient and effective way.”