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The Church Musician Primer:

An online keyboard skills course designed
for church pianists and organists

Enrollment opens Summer 2018


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.

Some skills 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?


    Welcome to the Church Musician Primer:

    An online keyboard skills course 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...

    This course will help you develop valuable sight-reading, score-reading, and harmonizing skills; 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 Inside:

    • Eight 15-minute instructional videos
    • Four comprehensive workbooks with charts, musical examples, practicing notes, musical material, and keyboard skills projects
    • Lifetime access to the course videos, resources, and materials
    • Unlimited access to me via email to ask questions and get feedback as your work through each keyboard skills project

    Our Course Curriculum


    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.



    Hi, I'm Ashley Danyew

    Church musician and music educator based in Rochester, NY. My mission is to help church musicians and teachers just like you lead, teach, and inspire others creatively and confidently.

    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: everything from accompanying services on the piano and organ to starting and directing children’s and adult choirs, building a handbell choir program to planning worship, and overseeing the administration of a music program.

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


    Questions others have asked before joining
    the Church Musician Primer


    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. 

    How long WILL this course TAKE TO COMPLETE?

    The course is designed to be completed in as short a time as four weeks, though you are welcome to start whenever you'd like and work at your own pace. You'll have lifetime access to the course with your registration and can always go back and review, 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.

    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 before the first day of class to receive a full refund. Once the course begins, however, your tuition payment is non-refundable.

    What if I have other questions?

    Please feel free to reach out to me directly at I'd be happy to answer your questions!


    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!

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