Four Unique Advent Traditions for Your Worship Services

Four Unique Advent Traditions for Your Worship Services

The first Sunday in Advent is only seven weeks away!

Advent is a journey; that season of waiting and preparation leading up to Christmas. It’s the beginning of a new liturgical year, a time when we gather in darkness and wait for the Light of the World to come again. 

We re-read the ancient prophecies, we hold on to hope, we remind ourselves what it means to trust in God’s promises and receive God’s peace. We celebrate the gift of joy to the world and the light God shines into the dark places.

Four Pieces for Advent: A New Handbell Collection

Four Pieces for Advent: A New Handbell Collection

Surprise! I released my first collection of handbell music this week!

Four Pieces for Advent is a digital collection of four simple pieces for your Advent worship services. These pieces are designed to add a creative element into your services - thoughtful ways to incorporate handbells in new and unique ways.

The music in this collection is written for 2-octave handbells (12 bells), so they’re easy to learn and accessible for smaller (and younger) groups.

What Type of Choir Director Are You?

What Type of Choir Director Are You?

Take a moment to think about the choir directors you’ve had during your lifetime. What was your first choir director like? If you sang in a choir during high school, what was that director like? Think about the directors you’ve had as an adult, whether in a university, church, or community setting. What were those directors like?

Each one had a different style, right? A different approach to leading, conducting, organizing, and communicating with the choir. What makes one director a stronger leader than another? Which communication style is most effective?

Each one had a different style, right? A different approach to leading, conducting, organizing, and communicating with the choir. What makes one director a stronger leader than another? Which communication style is most effective?

Books You Can Sing and Chant with Your Children's Choir

Books You Can Sing and Chant with Your Children's Choir

I received an email from a preschool choir director recently asking if I had any recommendations for books that could be sung that she could use in her rehearsals.

You know the ones: books that either have lyrics to a familiar children’s song or hymn, or stories with text that can be sung to a familiar tune, like “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”

There are lots and lots of children’s books out there, and a few helpful lists of books that can be sung or chanted (see here, here, here, and here, for instance). But books that can be used in a church setting? With a children’s choir? Those are a little harder to find.

Three Things I'm Doing Differently in My Piano Studio This Year

Three Things I'm Doing Differently in My Piano Studio This Year

It's been a while since I've written anything about private teaching here. This is a big part of what I do during the week, even though I don't talk about it much here, and I know many of you teach privately, as well, in addition to the other things you do. 

I teach private lessons four days a week at a private school as part of their extracurricular and after-school programming. At the beginning of this year, I shared eight ways to continue developing your teaching skills this year.

How to Pursue a Career in Music Ministry

How to Pursue a Career in Music Ministry

Music ministry can be fulfilling, demanding, meaningful, challenging, and deeply rewarding work - sometimes, all at the same time! It’s an opportunity to use your musical skills and experience in service to others; inspire and encourage others in their musical development; help people and nurture them in their faith; and participate in something greater than yourself.

It’s an opportunity to teach, create, inspire, dream, give, grow, and serve.

29 Multicultural Anthems for Church Choirs

29 Multicultural Anthems for Church Choirs

Multiculturalism isn't something we often talk about in church settings, right? Let's be honest:

Most congregations tend to sing the hymns they know from their hymnal.

And most choirs tend to sing music they are comfortable with, in a language they speak, and in a musical style that is familiar and accessible to them.

We're drawn to what we know and what's familiar to us, and that's completely natural.

The problem? We may miss opportunities to learn about people from other cultures, races, and ethnicities.

How to Use the Metrical Index in Your Hymnal

How to Use the Metrical Index in Your Hymnal

Have you ever flipped through your hymnal and come across all those indexes in the back? 

The one we probably use most often is the Index of First Lines and Common Titles - a quick way to find the page number for a particular hymn you want to sing or play. Another index that sometimes proves helpful is the Index of Hymn Tunes, where you can look up a hymn by its tune name (for instance, NEW BRITAIN for “Amazing Grace” or HYMN TO JOY for “Joyful, Joyful”).

Creative and Practical Hymn Harmonization Resources for Church Musicians

Creative and Practical Hymn Harmonization Resources for Church Musicians

Hymn harmonizations are a great way to add musical interest to your hymn-playing and congregational singing. Use them to highlight particular verses, create a certain mood or expression, or heighten an important point in the worship service.

The trouble is, where do you find these hymn harmonizations?

Your denomination may have a few hymnal supplements available, offering some re-harmonizations, but these can be expensive and sometimes, not all that exciting.

5 Effective Leadership Approaches for Church Music Directors

5 Effective Leadership Approaches for Church Music Directors

You have all the credentials. You have a newly-minted music degree in one hand and a polished résumé in the other, but you wonder if you really have what it takes to be a great leader.

What does it take, exactly?

Some of us may have heard the words, "You're a born leader" in our lifetimes. Others of us may not. We may have been the kids that organized the game on the playground, assigning roles and explaining all the rules; or we may have been the kids who were perfectly content just being followers. We may have sought out opportunities to lead and make decisions, or been most comfortable in the middle of the crowd, safely out of the spotlight, and happy to not have all the responsibility.