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The Church Musician Primer:
Key Skills for the Music Director, Keyboardist & Organist

A 4-week online keyboard skills class for church musicians

Enrollment opens again Summer 2018


Tailored to church music directors, keyboardists, and organists, this course will help you develop valuable sight-reading, score-reading, and harmonizing skills; equip you to play and accompany hymns, anthems, and contemporary songs creatively and confidently; and give you the tools and resources you need to lead and support choral and congregational singing in a variety of worship settings.

Learn How To:

  • develop skills in sight-reading and score-reading;
  • develop critical listening skills by evaluating music aurally and working without notation;
  • foster basic accompanying skills by learning to simplify and knowing what to leave out;
  • build coordination: play/sing, play/conduct, play standing up, play/direct with breath cues;
  • harmonize simple melodies (with and without chord symbols); and
  • develop creativity through composition and improvisation activities.

What's Included:

  • Four 30-minute instructional video lessons, released over the course of four weeks
  • Lifetime access to the course videos and materials
  • A comprehensive workbook with charts, musical examples, and practicing notes
  • Weekly emails with class notes, assignments, and action steps
  • Bonus! Access to an online community with fellow church musicians to network, ask questions,
    and share ideas and resources


Course Overview

Module 1  |  Accompanying
We'll start with some choral accompanying basics like playing warm-ups, reading open score, and providing support for singing/knowing when to drop out. Then, we'll take a look at accompanying in worship - from learning how to cadence to playing for communion to playing "traveling music."

Module 2  |  Creative Musicianship
In Module 2, we'll explore creative hymn-playing and creativity in worship, including introductions, learning how and when to breathe (for cues), providing support for congregational singing, and creating your own harmonizations, modulations, and transitions.

Module 3  |  Musical Styles
In this module, we'll talk mostly about contemporary music and contemporary worship. Topics will include playing chords, how to read lead sheets and chord charts, how to harmonize a melody, creating flow, playing with a band, underscoring prayers and readings, and how to introduce contemporary music/teach a new song to your congregation.

Module 4  |  Planning & Preparing
This final module will be devoted to planning and preparing for worship: choosing service music (prelude/postlude, offertory, responses, etc.), choral music (anthem, introit, responses, etc.), and transition music; preparing for rehearsals, practicing, and what to include in the bulletin.

This course is designed for
church pianists and organists.

Whether you lead a small congregation in one service on Sunday mornings or play for three services a week, including a contemporary service with a praise band, you’ll learn practical accompanying skills and helpful step-by-step processes for practicing and playing music in worship on a weekly basis.

Music school is great, but if you want to be a church musician in the 21st century, there are lots of things you're left to figure out on your own - things that simply aren't taught in most schools or private studios.

This includes:

  • playing and singing or playing and conducting at the same time
  • accompanying and supporting choral and congregational singing
  • harmonizing melodies (with and without chord symbols)
  • finding cadence points and vamping in the moment
  • creating modulations and transposing at sight
  • improvising transitions and creating musical underscores
  • playing 5-finger patterns in all 24 keys (12 major, 12 minor)

And the list goes on. Where do you start? How do you learn and develop these skills?

If you can relate to any of this, then this course is for you.

Course Schedule

Welcome & Introduction
Week 1 - Module 1 available
Week 2 - Module 2 available
Week 3 - Module 3 available
Week 4 - Module 4 available



Ready to get to work?

Enrollment for this course is currently closed, but will reopen in Summer 2018.
Join the waiting list below and be the first to know when enrollment is open again!


About Me

I'm Ashley Danyew - church musician and music educator based in Rochester, NY.

I have a Ph.D. in Music Education and a Certificate in Arts Leadership from the Eastman School of Music and over 15 years of church music experience, including accompanying services on the piano and organ, starting and directing children’s and adult choirs, building a handbell choir program, and planning worship.

I can't wait to help you develop the key skills you need to play and lead creatively and confidently on Sunday mornings.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where will this course taught?

This course will be taught exclusively online. Videos, links, and PDF documents will be posted on a password-protected page on this site. 

I'm not on Facebook. Can I still take this course?

Yes! You will be invited to join a private group on Facebook along with other church musicians to network, ask questions, and share ideas and resources, if you'd like. This is not required to participate in the course - just an added bonus!

How long is this course and when does it start?

The course is four weeks long and will begin August 10, 2017. The content for each module will be posted on our password-protected course page every Thursday. You'll have lifetime access to the course and can always go back and catch up, if needed.

What level is this course?

This course is geared toward those with some playing and/or accompanying experience and basic knowledge of music theory. I consider this a "graduate-level" course, building on the playing, reading, and musicianship skills you developed in undergraduate work and/or through experience in the field and theoretical knowledge gained from college-level music theory courses.

I want to take this course, but August is a busy month for me. What if I can't keep up?

No worries. I'm spreading out the content over the course of a month to help give you time to do the weekly assignments, but if you don't get to everything in a week, that's okay. You'll have lifetime access to the course videos and materials, so you'll have plenty of time to catch up or go back over lessons or assignments, if you need to.

What is your refund policy?

If your situation changes after you register and you are no longer able to take the course, please email me to receive a full refund through August 9. Once you begin the course however, your tuition payment is non-refundable.