When Covid-19 first hit and Hoboken Grace had to move to a virtual platform, one of the biggest changes came for the Band. Trying to figure out the best way to bring the worship experience online was definitely a challenge. Tony was one of the people in the band and on the production team tasked with helping out with the transition. His background in music, production, and audio engineering made him the perfect person to help coordinate the new platform and help the team adapt to the ever-changing needs of worship these last few months.
Tony shares his experience with the early days of being fully virtual and also what is has been like with the team coming back together to worship live again.
In the beginning of the quarantine Tony worked with the production team and band to figure out how to best bring worship to the virtual platform.
Story Team: What was it like to transition to a virtual platform for the band and how did you guys make the decision to go from pre-recorded videos of past services to the in-the-home, videos of the team singing during quarantine?
Tony: One of our leaders in the band reached out to me before Easter and showed me a video of a band that was doing something special with their recordings and asked me if it would be possible for us to do something similar. We had our Video and Audio Team, so I thought we could figure out how to do it. So, we worked to get the songs ready for Easter but it was a monster! We had 2-3 weeks to get it done and it was definitely a learning curve for me, for our leaders, and for our Video and Audio Teams. I compiled the tracks and that is what we used to record all the videos. We quickly learned it was difficult to sync everything up and had to figure out how use a clapping sound at the beginning of the song to sync the video and audio together. We learned a lot from the Easter videos for the future, but it was a beast! I probably spent 20 hours mixing everything together for Easter.
Story Team: What was the response to that new format and how did it change worship during that time?
Tony: We got a lot of positive feedback over those videos. The best part was hearing people say they thought it was a live recording because they came out so good. I think people really appreciated seeing the efforts of the production and music side come together to provide a really unique worship opportunity for everyone at that time. It was really great knowing I was part of that and our team really grew from that experience. It got easier going forward as we got better at it, but it was a great process to create those videos.
Story Team: Now that the band is coming back together live, what has that been like for you guys?
Tony: I’ve loved people’s reactions to seeing the live band back together. It was especially great for the band, when we came back together, because we got to play live again and not just individually in our homes. I think that was really cool, it was so fun when we first came back together. I’ve really loved being able to merge my production background into the worship side and be able to work on things from both angles. It feels so good to serve in this way.
Story Team: How was the team dynamic during all this, at first when you guys were all separated, and now coming back together, what has that been like?
Tony: When we were quarantining, we had virtual connection events and game nights to come together and spend time with each other so it was fun to be able to connect in that way. We also have a band
Story Team: What did God reveal to you over this process of being all virtual and coming back to in-person worship?
Tony: One of the things I definitely found by working with others and sharing the production process with people, who maybe didn’t have my background or experience, is that I had to learn patience and humility. Even though everyone may not have all the technical know-how or specific knowledge I had, my way wasn’t always the best way to do things. God taught me a lot of humility in collaborating with others. Just because I have a degree in Audio Engineering, that doesn’t necessarily make me the expert. I had to learn to let go a little and collaborate and allow for other people to share their ideas and gifts as well.
Story Team: What have you seen God working out these last few months with the team and you, personally, throughout the whole journey?
Tony: As a team we’ve always really had to support each other because we play together on Sunday mornings. That need for support was really emphasized when we were recording by ourselves at home because even though it was different, it was still an act of worship recording the songs like that. The fact that we were able to put together something that could reach so many people and allow them to still worship no matter where they were, was incredible. We had some great times and even wrote a song during quarantine!
Personally, God has been working a lot of things out with me; patience, humility, and finding time for God and my spiritual rhythms has been an ongoing process. I have had some impatience for things when I look at my life and where I think I should be professionally and personally. Everything has been frozen in time and I’ve lost some income, and because of the nature of my career, my industry has essentially shut down. I was also trying to potentially move out of my house and struggled with whether or not to do that. So, I’ve had to shift my priorities and God has really been teaching me patience and timing throughout this.
Story Team: It seems like collaboration and teamwork has really been essential to help the band and production team get through everything and adapt to the changing needs as you went along.
Tony: Absolutely, whenever there was a struggle, someone would reach out in the Slack channel and say, “Hey how can I do this?” and we’d work together to figure stuff out. So, it’s really been a team effort and certainly a win that we’ve been able to put all this together and do all that we’ve done. I would say most of the team would agree that it’s been an amazing experience that we were able to supply worship in the various forms and adapt to whatever was needed.
Story Team: Yes, it’s definitely impressive how you guys were able to innovate and reach as many people as possible for whatever was needed at the time, as that’s been a moving target with everything constantly changing.
So, what are you most looking forward to as we come back together and things start to shift to more normalcy?
Tony: I’m just really looking forward to communal worship again. The virtual stuff has been great but it’s not the same for me. I love live music and live concerts so I’ve looked forward to us finally coming together and worshiping together as a church again in-person at The Lawn and 301 Garden. Whatever we do, the band and production team is good at rolling with the punches, we have to do that every Sunday morning from one service to the next. Things never go totally as planned so we’ve always been good at adapting!
Story Team: What’s been your biggest takeaway these last few months?
Tony: I’ve learned that if you’re struggling and in the thick of it, to just take a step back. You’re probably not thinking straight in the moment with emotions and everything you’re going through and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. So just take a step back and have patience, it can change your whole perspective. Wait on God’s timing and just hit the pause button. God’s really revealed that to me through everything I was focused on and stressing over.
At one point when I was really focused on where my life was and worried about things, I was reading through scripture and came across Romans 8:25 which says, “But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.”
That just really spoke to me and I was like wow, ok God, I get the message! I’ve gone through so much stress and it caused me anxiety and sleep issues, but ever since, I’ve been trying to step back and just let things be, I’ve felt such relief. Just having patience and letting go has been so helpful. It’s like that saying, “Let go and let God” and that’s what I’m trying to focus on now.
To see Tony and the rest of the band you can tune in every Sunday online or register for one of our in-person services! Registration for in-person is required and opens every Tuesday at 5:00 pm for the following week. You can register by visiting the Hoboken Grace App or by visiting the website.