I recently stumbled upon a belief by the contemporaries of Shakespeare “that music was a tangible force that had the power to magnify and enhance your emotions: it was quite literally ‘food for the soul’” (Shakespeare.org.uk, 2013). I fully understood this more at the Choirmasters’ Seminar recently held in Kumasi, that music, whether at church or in our homes, is the “food for the soul”.
A number of choir masters from Northern and Southern Ghana were invited to a seminar at the Republic Hall of the KNUST on the 26th November 2021, led by District Elder Wolfgang Oehler (retired), Head of Seminar Supervision Team (SST) from Germany. He was assisted by Bishop Asare, the Head of Seminars in Ghana. Lead Apostle Samuel Oppong-Brenya was also present to inspire and encourage participants; on a number of occasions, he intervened brilliantly whenever difficult questions from participants needed an answer.
The participants were all tested for Covid-19 on arrival, with no positive cases recorded. The test kits for this seminar, as well as those for three earlier seminars held in Accra and Kumasi were all provided by District Elder Oehler.
Some of the topics treated included:
* Warm-up breathing and vocal exercise
Three groups were formed for all the exercises and it was here that I realised the talents in our choirmasters. All the groups sang so well and I was convinced that they can mount any stage anywhere in the world. Some of the tunes rendered were:
* How great Thou art
* I have a home beyond the river
* Amazing grace
* In the silence of Your Majesty
There were smiles on the faces all participants after every group's presentation. So, I asked myself, “Can they teach the same way they sing at localities in Bolgatanga, Dunkwa, Traa or Aflao?”
This urged me to interview the District Elder Wolfgang Oehler, the facilitator.
Reporter: You have mentioned and commended the enthusiasm in the present youthful choirmasters, would you suggest a change in the approach in invitation for future seminars?
Wolfgang: We need to spread out the invitation to the choirmasters because there are brilliant ones out there in other congregations. There are congregations in Kumasi and Accra who sing even better than some congregations in Europe. Your choir and the orchestra are very good. The challenge is introducing the choir in remote congregations. I am happy to see young and dedicated persons as trainers. Their tasks would be to go to the villages to organise choirs and to teach them.
Reporter: You are now officially retired; what would be the future approach to choirmasters’ seminars in Ghana and the West African sub region?
Wolfgang: I will do whatever I am asked to do. Whoever needs my support in updating seminar materials etc., I will be there to support and mentor those who want it. Never will I want to lose these wonderful connections.
Reporter: Thank you District Elder Wolfgang Oehler for the interview.
It is our hope that the choirmasters will carry the message across by training more Choir leaders and organizing more choirs, equipping them with the training skills they have received and also to teach in all the local congregations, as promised, to the level they exhibited in Kumasi because music is the food for the soul – the congregations will certainly grow. And they should always know, the District Elder (retired) is ever prepared to assist.