Harley Cannon, being blind, doesn’t read music.
But that doesn’t stop him from playing a crazy clavichord or a mean trumpet.
“That Harley is a piece of work, a talented musician,” said Mike Hoover, minister of music at North View Baptist Church in Lexington, Ky. “Not only does he play keyboards and trumpet, but he sings too.”
Hoover and Cannon have been the worship-leading team at North View for nearly five years — in a match made in digital heaven.
Hoover uses the Worship Project on LifewayWorship.com to coordinate all the music for the church. LifewayWorship.com is a set of resources designed to provide the tools worship leaders need to create a rich and full worship experience for their churches. Lifeway Worship is a department of Lifeway Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Hoover, unlike most ministers of music, is quick to admit that he, too, doesn’t read music.
“No, not at all,” he said with a chuckle. “I’ve depended on technology to help me do worship planning since the days of the ‘Celebrate Jesus’ book with split tracks!”
Being bivocational, Hoover doesn’t have a lot of time for planning. He spends his mornings and afternoons driving a school bus route, working at the school bus garage in between.
Hoover and Cannon learned to use LifewayWorship.com to quickly and seamlessly create an order of worship that both of them can follow.
Hoover prepares the order of worship on Monday and Tuesday nights.
“What I love about having access to the resources on the Worship Project,” he said, “is that I can find out from the pastor what the Scripture passage for the week will be and then go online and find music that will coordinate with it.
“I can download the order of worship and music and put it in a dropbox for Harley to download,” Hoover said. “Once he gets it, he translates the order of service into Braille and listens to the music two or three times and he’s ready to play. It’s so easy!”
Cannon said he usually listens to the music while he’s exercising.
“I walk on the treadmill for about 45 minutes every day,” he said. “Having the music to listen to helps. By the time we get together, we’ve heard the same music and we’re ready to go.”
Hoover said LifewayWorship.com has revolutionized the musical worship for North View.
“It just makes so many things possible for us,” he said. “I can find the music I want, download it for Harley and send it to him. I can download the song from the digital hymnal portion of the Worship Project so my choir can listen to it. I can get printouts of the music for the choir. It works!”
Cannon agreed that the resource makes things simple, adding, “You don’t have to be blind to appreciate the convenience of it. It’d work for anybody.”
One Wednesday night, for example, Hoover had some cold and allergy issues and couldn’t sing. He needed to introduce a new song to the choir for Sunday morning. So he played the MP3 and had them sing along while Cannon played the keyboard and added in a trumpet part.
“Without the technology that LifewayWorship.com offers, I couldn’t have made all that happen in the time we had,” Hoover said.
Having had time to go over the music in his head for a couple of days, Cannon has the opportunity to experiment with some sound.
“Every once in a while, I’ll throw in something Mike doesn’t expect,” Cannon said with a laugh. “I’ll drop the keyboard and just let the choir sing a chorus or a verse or maybe improvise a variation on the melody, but they are good to just follow along wherever I take them. I just tell them to keep up!”
North View isn’t a large church, running about 100 on Sunday mornings. Hoover said as helpful as LifewayWorship.com is, he imagines it would seem almost like a miracle for smaller churches.
“My brother is the pastor of a tiny church in Viney Fork, Ky.,” Hoover said. “He does everything — preaching, teaching and music. He uses LifewayWorship.com too. He doesn’t have musicians. He may just have three or four people in the choir, but he’ll have good music.”
Mike Harland, director of Lifeway Worship, noted that many Southern Baptist churches struggle to find musicians. “LifewayWorship.com could be so beneficial to these churches, giving them the means to provide a quality worship experience no matter how many worshippers they have,” he said.
“It was our hope and prayer from the inception of LifewayWorship.com that ministers of music, as well as the single staff member churches, would be able to have a quality worship experience for their members, no matter how many or how few,” Harland said.
Polly House is a writer for Lifeway Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention
For more information about the Worship Project, the digital hymnal and other worship resources, visit LifewayWorship.com.