Music and brass bands have long been associated with The Salvation Army – from its early beginnings in London. Founder General William Booth wasn’t always fond of music, but saw how it helped draw public attention and spread the Army’s mission.
This Guest Blog post has been provided by Dr. Jonathan Corry, The Salvation Army Metropolitan Divisional Director of Music and Gospel Arts. Corry received both his Bachelor’s Degree in music and Master’s Degree in conducting from the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England. He completed his Doctorate Degree at University of Salford. He has conducted many well-known ensembles and performed with featured bands and orchestras.
Starting in 1880, Booth issued a series of General Orders regarding Salvation Army music, setting forth rules and regulations. Once such regulation mandated the words “Salvation Army Brass Band,” and the number of the corps be marked on every instrument. Booth had accepted the concept of integrating brass bands within his evangelical movement. These standards are still in place today.
Once Booth accepted music as an evangelical tool – made of a language that crossed every boundary – it became a large part in all of the Army’s programs. In Chicago, the Army offers the Let the Music Begin program which provides music education for some of Chicago’s poorest children. The program brings music into Chicago Public Schools and gives children the opportunity to explore a range of music styles and instruments. At the end of the school year, there is a large public performance to celebrate their learning and achievement. Today, the Army is the world’s largest provider of music education.
The Salvation Army music programs aren’t just limited to Chicago Public Schools. Many Corps Community Centers also offer music lessons, bands, choir and praise worship opportunities for people of all ages. Reach out to the Center nearest you to find out what music programs are available in your neighborhood. There are also music camps in the summer for those who want to spend more time engaging in playing and writing music.