Many church worship teams consider themselves family.
For the Sidabutar 5, it’s true — quite literally.
Immanuel and Juliann Sidabutar, along with their three children — Noah, Isabelle and Allison — perform every Sunday at People of Faith Lutheran Church’s services.
Juliann and Immanuel Sidabutar relocated to Orlando from New York in 2016.
“We were looking for a church home in Winter Garden,” Juliann Sidabutar said. “Previously we were part of ELCA Congregation — Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. So, we Googled it, and we found People of Faith Lutheran Church, and we started coming.”
Not long after the Sidabutars began attending service at the church, both Juliann and Immanuel were offered a position as staff to become worship leaders.
Noah, 12, started playing with his parents at age 8 when he learned how to play the djembe. It was not long after that he was gifted a drum set after attending a conference on ministry in 2018 in Leesburg.
“Noah got started with the drums, and we got him in lessons, and then we realized the girls could sing,” Juliann Sidabutar said. “They had a natural talent, and then we got them both started with piano lessons, and they are now also taking vocal lessons.”
After all five members of the family were able to participate in the musical endeavor that having a family band brings with it, the Sidabutars created a YouTube channel and officially became the Sidabutar 5.
Juliann Sidabutar grew up in New York. During her high school years, she played violin for the orchestra, and from ages 6 to 16, she took piano lessons and even performed a few recitals at Carnegie Hall.
Immanuel Sidabutar grew up in Indonesia. Despite living in the country that has the highest Muslim population in the world, his family raised him in the Christian faith.
“Of course, Christians go to church and they sing, and a lot of them play,” he said. “I come from that background, so coming (to church on Sundays), I’m always excited to play with these kids. It’s a really cool feeling.”
When he was about 10 years old, his parents bought him six months of guitar lessons, so he was able to learn the basics.
“After those six months, I hung out with my friends and other people and learned by myself,” Immanuel Sidabutar said. “After that I (also) learned how to play bass by myself.”
The family practices six days a week.
“We are very regimented, very disciplined; we have to stay consistent,” Juliann Sidabutar said. “It’s not so much the length of practice, but we have to be consistent.”
When Noah joined the band as the drummer, he learned the songs and how to play them thanks to his father’s help.
“I learned when and what to play, because my dad goes through the songs with me, he tells me what to play and when to do it,” he said.
Because of learning the hardship of teaching piano to her children after attempting to teach piano to Noah, Juliann Sidabutar realized it would be more beneficial to everyone if their daughters took piano and vocal lessons from a professional.
“Right now, we are in the hardest part of the process, because we are teaching them all these things (such as) how to improvise,” Immanuel Sidabutar said.
However, the children truly enjoy bringing the musical sides out while playing together with their parents.
“The drum is the heartbeat of the band, so I’m the one keeping the tempo,” Noah Sidabutar said. “What is also cool is that it’s fun to improvise on the drum and make stuff up as you go. You also get to brag to your friends about how you and your family have a band.”
For Isabelle and Allison, one of their favorite parts of having a family band is being able to choreograph the songs they sing together.
“We do dances at home, and then we do them here,” Isabelle Sidabutar said. “It’s really fun.”
For Allison, playing the piano alongside her mother is also one of her favorite parts of Sunday performances.
“I do extra stuff on the keyboard, and I like it,” she said. “I like being challenged.”
Currently, the family mostly plays Christian music and recently performed the song ‘What Else Can I Do?’ from the movie “Encanto.”
“We have tried non-Christian songs in the past,” Immanuel Sidabutar said. “The thing is that when we practice them, we don’t have a platform to perform them.”
The Sidabutars have a collection of Christian songs they place into a rotation to determine what songs they will play on a given Sunday morning.