Every Rhythm Church I do is an experiment. I just did a Rhythm Church in Santa Cruz where I moved the Players in the group from Drums and Percussion, to all Percussion, to all Boomwhackers and finally to all Chimes.

Never did that wide of a spectrum before… It Worked !! Yea!!

The power of Rhythm Church is the trance induction that you help create in the players through the facilitation of the slow evolution from one sound and timber to the next.

I do this by exchanging one instrument for the other, one person at a time, with each individual in the group. That process takes about 5 to 10 minutes for each Timber/Instrument type evolution.

If everyone switched instruments at the same time there would be no subtle trance induction and Rhythm Church would be a lot harder to achieve (To me, Rhythm Church is not an event, it is a group achievement).

Rhythm Church is the slow change in timber instrumentation that is so delicate that it is hard to make a specific distinction in that change. That sets up the platform for any type of Rhythm Church.

Here is how it works...
Platform conciseness in your facilitator’s mind will help you help your group of players reach the desired result.

1 - Get them rhythmically connected. That is the first and foundational platform.
2 - Now with a rhythmically-connected group of players, you can instigate interactive dialogue. (Lots of ways to do that)
3 - Once dialogue between the players appears, that sets up the platform for musical Melody Lines to emerge.
4 - Once Melody line in the music establishes itself, that becomes the platform for Harmonics and Harmonies to appear.

Harmonics is the food, nourishment and sacrament of Rhythm Church.
It is my belief that a Rhythm Church Sacrament is a musical act that is experienced as an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual divine grace.

All that cosmic stuff being said, lets address how you might logistically get two different groups of people to Rhythm Church.

I had never facilitated a rhythm church in a theater-style seating situation or at a church with people sitting in chairs and tables. But I see basic logistical challenges in both situations that address the spread out seating situation especially at the church seating arrangement.

The closer proximity of the players, the better the connection they can make, both musically and personally.

Of course, a circle where the people are all “Snuggled” together, and facing each other, which helps form that musical and personal connection.

The lack of proximity will be a challenge for you as a rhythm event facilitator. And if they can’t achieve a rhythmical connected platform, then rhythm church won’t happen.

Once you get that rhythm connection going amongst your players, you have the challenge of handing out and exchanging the instruments one at a time from one timbre instrument to the next.

In a Church setting situation you can achieve this task, BUT the challenge would be with a theater-style seating situation.

I have two ideas of what I would do in the theater-seating situation.. (But I have never done either of them so good luck {]]’;-)   )…

If what you are planning is a standard Percussion to Chimes evolution, I would place the first instrument that I would like them to play, Percussion, on their seat. And I would but the chimes under their seat.

In this kind of controlled situation I might explain to them what will happen in order to set up the Instrument evolution process.

Instrument Evolution Process #1...

Along with the instrument placement, put a sticker on each seat with the number 1, or 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 etc. By placing the seat numbers in random arrangement, rather than in a numerical progression of seats, you will have different people starting the Instrument Evolution Process in random places around the theater.

Let the players know ahead of time, that while they are playing their Percussion instruments, you will call out a number.

If they are sitting in a seat designated by that number then, "At Their Leisure” they can switch from the percussion instrument that they are playing to the chime that is under their seat.

You call out #1, and let those people switch and the music merge and settle in before calling the #2 group of players to switch, and so on. The more numbers you use, the more subtle the changes will be.

If you use 5 numbers, that will give you 5 evolutionary instrument changes to get your group to full Chimes. Adding more numbers onto your seating arrangement means that less people will be switching at each "layering in of the chimes”, and the more subtle will be the groups instrument evolution.

The more subtle the evolution the deeper the Rhythm Church experience.

With a theater seating of 200, I would recommend at least 10 numbered changes for your Instrument Evolution process.

Instrument Evolution Process #2...

In the above Instrument Evolution process, you would have to call out numbers to people who would have to remember those numbers, but as you get deeper into the trance-like rhythm church, your voice and the task of them remembering numbers might be a hindrance to achieving your goal.

Instrument Evolution Process number 2 involves no words, just body language and a pre-setup.
You do have to set up and explain the process to your group before they start to play.

Have you ever seen or been a part of a facilitated sound exercise called “Making it rain”?  The facilitator always slowly initiates the sound changes from one side of the group to the other.

You will do the same. You will let your playing group know ahead of time, that at some time during the groove, you will use body language to let them know when to switch from Percussion to Chimes.

They know that you will have them make that switch one by one, similar to the drum circle game of "layering-in”.

Start facilitating the slow “Layering in” instrument switch from either side of your theater seating and move the instrument switch towards the other end of each row.

All rows will do it together. So your Instrument evolution process will move from one side of the theater to the other.

The slower the Instrument Evolution process is facilitated the Deeper the Rhythm Church will be.

Here are two hints that will help...
#1 - Start at the beginning with the end in mind.
#2 - You have no where to go, because you are already there.

I would suggest that you set up test a situation with some of your friends or a local recreational drum circle group and play around with these ideas. In the process you may come up with a few ideas of your own.

Remember that the most important thing you can do is, Share Your Spirit…….
Life = Dance….

Arthur