Traveling Musical Families

singingfamilyIn fundy churches, the most common type of traveling musical family is the missionary family. The traveling family musical act is a mainstay of the fundamentalist missionary endeavor. If a missionary is to be a success on deputation and furlough he or his family must sing, play an instrument, and be able to quote John 3:16 in a foreign language. As a reward for doing these things (and not necessarily for doing them well) the missionary is then allowed to sell tapes and CDs of his family’s musical feats on the back table after the service.

There is another type of musical family that is modeled more along the lines of the von Trapp family. These are families with large numbers of children who consider traveling and performing to be their mission. It’s not easy get this act going for the simple reason that it requires having a large family. Two musical kids are hardly worth driving to see unless they’re really exceptional but by the time you’re up to seven musical children it’s a phenomenon, and twelve children barely have to have any musical talent at all to attract a crowd.

There are other costs to be considered too. Matching outfits for all those kids don’t come cheap. Not to mention the cost of transporting them from place to place. Thankfully, people are usually generous with their love offerings to musical acts.

In fact, missionaries are often thrilled to find out that a “big name” in the family musician trade is going to be present that week for the simple fact that they help boost the offerings. Man shall not live by flute solos alone.

Be sure to stop by the display table in the back.

(thanks to Don for bringing back many memories for this post.)

8 thoughts on “Traveling Musical Families”

  1. “If a missionary is to be success on deputation and furlough he or his family must sing, play an instrument, and be able to quote John 3:16 in a foreign language. As a reward for doing these things (and not necessarily for doing them well)…” Been there, done that. Sure glad those days are over.

  2. I’ve seen the kind of missionary family singers described here. But there is another facet of fundy family singers: gospel bluegrass and cowboy. I spent years in the music field, both music ministry and secular, particularly Cowboy Western (not country western). I’ve known tons of musical families, especially in bluegrass gospel. Somehow bluegrass appeals. It has amazed me how kids could learn those licks on guitar, banjo, mandolin and fiddle. A number of home school families did this, allowing them to school their kids and travel the country. Some have been…well, let’s say I wouldn’t book them to play my events. Others were awesome! This was in the 90’s and there seemed to be a real trend there. But very definitely fundy and often KJVO.

  3. Man, you’re totally mocking my family, aren’t you? Hah! Well, you aren’t wrong. Dad always jokes that we kids were the ones who REALLY raised support for us to go to the mission field, what with our singing and later modeling of Asian outfits. How many times people called us the “Von Schaefers!” Ugh!

  4. Isn’t it funny how times change? The dresses the younger girls are wearing would reap them major demerits at every Christian school I ever attended. Skirts had to go to the BOTTOM of the knee – but obviously not in that decade!

  5. The Marshall Family! They visited our church every year. They had oh, I can’t remember something like 14 kids. And they all played strings. Bluegrass style. The had a following at our church on how to raise your kids. My mom who only had 9 kids worshiped Mrs Marshall and used all her discipline techniques. Nice family. Almost all girls and all their hair was past their waste or at their ankles, depending on how many years they had been growing it.

  6. I remember the Marshalls as well. They were through our church many times. It has to be admitted, those kids (especially the middle ones) could actually sing and play! Even though I don’t believe exactly that way anymore, hearing those voices brings back so many memories.

  7. As an MK from a family of 6 kids forced into singing on deputation even though none of us were musically inclined (and to be fair to our parents, forced because churches almost demanded it), I can honestly say that nothing in my life was more humiliating and dehumanizing as the awkward 2 minutes our missionary ditty took to perform.

    The worse was when my little brother (I’m first, he’s fourth) decided I wasn’t up to snuff, looked back at me, turned back to the mic in front of him, and started guffawing… in two churches in a row! Severe punishments ensued and he didn’t try it a third time.

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