Five Things about Alabanza
I haven’t blogged about this yet, but since January I’ve been playing piano for the worship team (“grupo de alabanza” in Spanish) at our church. The experience has really broadened my horizons, in the following ways:
1. Here, they don’t use chord names like A, Em, C#m, D, G. Instead, it’s La, Mi-, Do#-, Re, and Sol. I didn’t know this, and I thought I could just come in and start playing with everyone, but the first time I saw one of the song sheets, I laughed–everything else is different and harder here in Spain, why not the worship music, too? It took me a while to decipher the new chords, but now, after a few months, it’s almost second nature to play a “La” chord as I would an “A” in the US.
2. All the songs are in Spanish, of course. I haven’t sung much as part of the worship team, because I don’t want to sound totally FOB-by, but it has been really neat to learn great new songs in another language. One of the songs I love is “Él es el Rey” (you can check it out on ITunes–the version by Jesús Adrián Romero is especially good), and this is one song that R will dance around to at church, and then it’s stuck in his head so the rest of the day his little voice will sing, “Él es el Rey, Él es el Rey, Él es el Rey de mi vida…” Too cute!
3. They also have a lot of popular English songs that our senior pastor has translated into Spanish. So, for example, we sing lyrics such as, “Tu amor es grande, fiel y es constante, como una montaña debajo de mis pies,” which in the original English version is, “Your love is amazing, steady and unchanging, your love is a mountain firm beneath my feet…” For me, it’s neat to have a different take on these very familiar songs.
4. I don’t contribute much because of my limited Spanish skills. I mean, I contribute musically, but if we’re trying to arrange a song, or make decisions about something, I just do as I’m told. Even if I did have an opinion, I wouldn’t be able to communicate it well so I try to avoid having any opinions whatsoever. It’s been humbling, and good, to learn that I don’t have to be in on making decisions everywhere I go.
5. I’m learning that music is its own language. Even though I can’t connect well verbally with the other group members– three Argentinians, a Chilean, and a Brasilian–when we play together the Lord does something very powerful and enables us to produce good music. And though I can’t understand all the lyrics that we sing, I can still worship the Lord through my fingers. It’s all been pretty awesome to be a part of.