Prelude Blog

Tim Shaw

Timothy Shaw was born and raised in idyllic Keene, New Hampshire. He studied theology and music (theory, history, composition, piano) in college and graduate school, and he has enjoyed a multi-faceted career as professor, composer, church musician, and author. As a clinician and scholar, he has presented workshops, academic papers, hymn festivals, music reading sessions, and master classes at numerous universities, conferences, music societies, and churches throughout the United States. As a composer, he is the recipient of the 2019 ALCM Raabe Prize for Excellence in Sacred Composition. He has written extensively for the church and is published by Augsburg Fortress, Beckenhorst, Choristers Guild, Concordia, Fred Bock, Hope, MorningStar Music, Neil A. Kjos, and Shawnee Press. He also composes on commission, and he has written for David Kim (Philadelphia Orchestra concertmaster), Anne Martindale-Williams (Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra principal cellist), and Abington Presbyterian Church (Abington, Pennsylvania), among others.

Recent Posts

New Choral Titles for Lent, Easter, Spring 2019

Posted on Dec 12, 2018 10:50:42 AM by Tim Shaw in Planning

As church musicians who must plan repertoire in advance, our thoughts are often a season or two ahead, and I think this is especially fitting during December. To have one ear in Christmas and the other ear in Easter reminds us of this profound truth: Christ Jesus “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:7-8, NRSV). Have you begun thinking about Lent/Easter music? Perhaps after all the holiday concerts and extra worship services are over, after the gifts have been opened, you’ll find some down time to plan for the next season. To help you, here are some excellent new resources for you to consider:

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Key Signatures and Effective Assembly Singing

Posted on Aug 10, 2018 4:13:00 PM by Tim Shaw in Composing and arranging

Those who accompany singing in worship services have many factors to consider in order to lead effectively, including: text, tempo, mood, dynamics, articulation, registration, and key. This last musical parameter, the key signature, is often overlooked when accompanying assembly singing. We may alter the tempo to encourage better singing; we may change registration from verse to verse to build to a climax; we may underscore textual imagery by playing with a different articulation. We may even modulate up a half-step and play a re-harmonization to boost singing on the final verse. But, how often do we think about the written key signature as something that can be changed entirely to enable better participation from the gathered assembly?

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Christmas in July: Piano/Organ Repertoire for Advent/Christmas

Posted on Jul 10, 2018 4:19:00 PM by Tim Shaw in review-prelude

I love the holiday season—even though it can be a stressful time—and I love the music that accompanies Advent and Christmas. Every year, I look forward to taking out my collection of seasonal music and playing through it again, and it always feels like spending time with good friends I haven’t seen for a while. It’s July, so you may (or may not!) be in planning mode for the upcoming year—I hope you’ll consider programming some of the following piano and organ repertoire. These are some of my favorite resources, and I find myself turning to them over and over again. Most of these titles are available through Prelude Music Planner. Some are in the public domain and are available (for free!) through the International Music Score Library Project (www.imslp.org).*

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Piano Music for Wedding Ceremonies

Posted on Jun 13, 2017 2:59:45 PM by Tim Shaw in Music Ministry, in Planning, in Potpourri

How many weddings have you provided music for over the course of your career? I stopped counting at fifty, but I would estimate I have played for over 200 weddings. Over the years, I have compiled a list of my “go to” repertoire, as, I’m sure, every church musician has done. In this post, I list tried and true piano pieces that I play often for wedding ceremonies. Some are easy, while others are more difficult. Consider adding some of these pieces to your own wedding repertoire, if you do not already include them. All of the sacred pieces are available for download through Prelude Music Planner. Most of the classical pieces are in the public domain and are available for free through the International Music Score Library Project (www.imslp.org). Hyperlinks are included to IMSLP webpages where you can print PDF files of the music.*

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How to Re-harmonize Hymns

Posted on Feb 24, 2017 1:55:08 PM by Tim Shaw in Composing and arranging

Used in moderation, playing hymn re-harmonizations on selected hymn stanzas can enliven an assembly’s singing, renew interest in older church repertoire, and draw attention to the text by musically underscoring certain words. Many hymn re-harmonizations are available for download through Prelude Music Planner—search by tune name and filter your results by instrument, this will allow you to see alternate harmonizations available for download. And here are some other resources for you to consider adding to your music library:

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Two- and Three-Part Choir Music

Posted on Nov 15, 2016 9:54:04 AM by Tim Shaw in Music Ministry, in Choral Techniques and Repertoire, in Planning

Choosing repertoire for church choirs is one of the most difficult, time-consuming tasks of all choir directors, whether they direct larger or smaller choirs. There are some unique challenges facing those who direct smaller choirs, though. To support you in your work, this blog has many helpful posts on the subject. Find some time to read any one (or all!) of the following posts for inspiration and ideas:

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Choral Arranging in 10 Steps

Posted on Jul 8, 2016 9:52:25 AM by Tim Shaw in Choral Techniques and Repertoire, in Composing and arranging

Have you exhausted your budget for new music but find yourself in need of a few more pieces to round out the upcoming choral season? Have you been unable to find a choral setting of a hymn you love? Have you always been curious about how the creative process works? Now could be a great time for you to try writing your own music! Follow the 10-step process below, mix in a little inspiration, and you may be pleasantly surprised with what you’re able to create.

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20 Time-Saving Tips for Church Musicians

Posted on Jun 22, 2016 3:25:12 PM by Tim Shaw in Uncategorized

Get organized. There is an old saying: “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” Being organized will, indeed, save time and limit frustration.

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Unison Choral Singing

Posted on Apr 18, 2016 4:12:13 PM by Tim Shaw in Choral Techniques and Repertoire, in Planning

Most church choir members love to sing in parts—the challenge of learning one’s notes is a truly enjoyable experience. Many choir directors choose repertoire because of good part-writing that leads to a rich choral sound. And, all choral composers love to explore the endless creative potential inherent in SATB texture. The vast repertoire of SATB choral music is, undeniably, one of the church’s greatest treasures. Used occasionally, though, unison choral singing offers several benefits to a church choir:

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What Is Your Philosophy of Worship and Music?

Posted on Feb 8, 2016 9:30:43 AM by Tim Shaw in Assembly Song, in Hymnody, in Choral Techniques and Repertoire, in Planning, in Potpourri

Anyone who has interviewed for a church music position knows some questions are almost guaranteed to be asked: “How do you motivate volunteers? What style of music is your favorite? What does the ideal relationship between clergy and church musician look like? How do you feel about choir robes?” Tough questions, but not too difficult to answer. There is that one dreaded question, though, which is seemingly impossible to answer: “What is your philosophy of worship and music?” Whether you have been asked this question directly or not, you do have a philosophy that manifests itself in how you practice church music. Spending some time developing—even writing out—your own philosophy of worship and music is a valuable exercise that can have a direct, positive impact on your music ministry. Try this on your own, or together as a worship/music committee.

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