A few months ago, I was struck by a bit of information: I learned trees in a forest are connected and “speak” to each other using the mycorrhizal network under the soil. The exchange of chemicals between mycelium and trees—as well as their symbiotic relationship—as it turned out, form a beautiful, vibrant, and interdependent community.Read More > >
How do you thank your music volunteers? The gifts they give are quite precious. Not even considering their varying talents, the hours alone they give are almost innumerable. Some churches honor their volunteer musicians with a special event at the end of the choir season. Perhaps you write special holiday cards or acknowledge individual birthdays.Read More > >
“Anybody can write . . . that is easy, but to write with a specific audience in mind, using the right amount of amusement and persuasion, to address them in a manner that is relevant and insightful, while offering practical advice in a convivial manner—that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.”
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“Now we wait. We wait for the child to be born.
We wait for the newness that God is bringing into the world.”
Advent is a season of anticipation, longing, and hopefulness. This year, after almost two years in a pandemic, these themes, and the emotions that they invoke, are heightened. We long to see signs in our lives and in our communities that Jesus is present. We need to hear the promises that only God can give.Read More > >
One year, I went to a workshop led by the guru of all things having to do with children’s choirs in the church, Helen Kemp. Helen said something simple that rocked my world that year. She said, “Routine relieves anxiety.” In fact, she had a big, beautiful poster with those words that I can still see in my mind’s eye. Helen already knew what I would soon learn and put into practice. When children know what to expect—when they know that the routine of the rehearsal will include things like sitting in a seat labeled with their name; a sung, responsive roll call; a warm-up; a hymn; anthems; then a closing prayer, for example—they come to rehearsal without fear of the unknown. This healthy, predictable environment provides a safe place to be open and learn.Read More > >
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children.” Deuteronomy 6:4-7Read More > >
“Spirit, open my heart to the joy and pain of living. As you love may I love, in receiving and in giving. Spirit, open my heart.” (ACS 1043)Read More > >
As a pianist who is not an organist, I sometimes lament the inability to aid the assembly’s song with sustained sound. After all, the attack of a hymn’s final chord is immediately followed by a decay, or dying away, of the sound on the piano. My experience has been that congregations often follow that lead and pull back with their voices, rather than hold on to a final chord with gusto.
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My theme for this past year became flexibility. It took me some time to get there. I’m a planner. Any good church musician needs to be. Pre-pandemic, I planned my entire choir year in the summer before rehearsals started. Every anthem, every rehearsal, every worship service was organized around the lectionary, the school breaks, confirmation, and other youth activities. It was a puzzle I enjoyed working on, and it enabled the year to go smoothly. Sure, there were little bumps in the road, and I would make adjustments, but the puzzle pieces all fit. It worked until March 2020, when the puzzle fell apart. Actually, it wasn’t even a puzzle anymore; it was a whole new game. New feelings swarmed: fear, excitement, disinterest, exhaustion, and curiosity, to name just a few.Read More > >
Who is the first person who comes to your mind when you think of an extraordinary mentor? What is the value in taking time to think about this question?
Several years ago, I was sitting in a breakout session at an ALCM conference listening to someone whom I consider an amazing mentor. He was dropping pearls of wisdom for those of us fortunate enough to hear. As I looked around the room, I saw many people engaged and, from the outside, some who seemed not to be. It struck me that it is easy to overlook opportunities to learn from a truly great musician.
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