During the first week of the summer holidays, Chatham Corps had no less than six representatives at this year’s Territorial Music School. TMS is an annual residential music school run by The Salvation Army and attended this year by over 140 people aged 16 – 30, from all over the UK. The main aims of the week are musical and spiritual development, but there is also plenty of time for worship, fellowship and a lot of fun.
Two of the Chatham contingent were attending TMS for the first time this year – Gareth Pennington and Tom Still – with the returning attendees being Jess Boughton, Louise Robinson, and Emma and Martin Davis.
For the third time, the venue for the week was a boarding school called Monkton Combe, set in a beautiful valley just outside of Bath. Gareth explains the theme that ran through all the worship sessions this year:
“The theme of the week was Open Your Eyes and we looked at the vision we have of God, the vision we have of The Salvation Army and the vision we have of ourselves. Each day in our worship time and cell groups we discussed this, some examples including: holiness, love, willing surrender, playing my part and never giving up.”
The whole school worship sessions were held in the school’s chapel and included uplifting singing, accompanied by various ensembles of students and staff, with both brass group and worship band formats used effectively. There were also Bible studies, videos and illustrations, prayer times and many testimonies. Particularly noted this year was the great sense of a network of care and support between the young people, and the act of praying for each other individually and collectively was encouraged throughout the week – and will continue into the future.
After morning worship, the format for the day consisted of electives (options available included timbrels, worship band, gospel choir, and missional media), meals, free time, sports, and an evening activity such as a quiz or dance night. All these were interspersed with musical rehearsals in our various groups. The Girls’ Chorus was led by Sue Blyth (Peterborough), and the two brass bands were conducted by Andrew Blyth and Jonathan Corry (Peterborough and Enfield respectively). Gareth writes:
“I thoroughly appreciated the opportunity and challenge to be part of the Andrew Blyth Band and enjoyed the pieces we played which were: Servants of God (Steven Ponsford), My Comfort and Strength (Brian Bowen), The Southern Cross (Brian Bowen) and The Day of the Lord (Steven Ponsford).”
During the week, two concerts were held. The Mid-Week Festival was in the hall at the school on Wednesday evening, and the week concluded with the Final Festival on Saturday evening in The Forum, previously a 1930s cinema, in the centre of Bath. All the music presented was of an impressively high standard, especially considering the groups had only been rehearsing together for a week. One benefit of attending music schools in the present day as opposed to previous generations is that we are most fortunate to have a professional recording of the festival which is available to download (click here) (https://sps.7dgtl.com/releases/465 6788) and serves as a lovely reminder of our time at TMS 2015. Rehearsing music together as a group throughout the week, and the shared exploration of the meaning and inspiration behind it, means that the Final Festival performances are significant and memorable for those participating as well as those in the audience.
In conclusion, Gareth writes: “We ve all been able to return to our home Corps refreshed and able to share with people the knowledge and the experience that we have acquired. I really enjoyed my first year at TMS and the people I spent the week with. I certainly will be going back next year and hopefully for many years to come.”