Why What We Are Doing Is Important

Why What We Are Doing Is Important

Today's post is written by my church musician friend, Janis Maxwell. She's the Director of Youth Music Ministry and Organist at Athens First United Methodist in Athens, GA. I hope her thoughtful perspective on ministry encourages and blesses you in your work this season.

- Ashley

"Serve the Lord with gladness; come before his presence with singing." - Psalm 100:2

As I reflect on the topic, “Why What We Are Doing Is Important”, this Bible verse pops into my head.

How to Use the Revised Common Lectionary

How to Use the Revised Common Lectionary

“A lectionary is a collection of readings or selections from the Scriptures, arranged and intended for proclamation during worship of the people of God.” (source)

Used as a guide in services of worship across denominations, the lectionary is a useful tool for choosing and sequencing Scripture readings and related music and liturgy for weekly worship.

Today, I’m writing about the Revised Common Lectionary - its history, benefits, how it's organized, and how to use it to guide your worship planning from week to week.

Let's get started!

Are You Running On Autopilot These Days?

Are You Running On Autopilot These Days?

Are you running on autopilot these days?

You know the feeling: distracted, absent-minded, forgetful, foggy, disengaged, disconnected.

It's easy to slip into this way of living without even realizing it, especially during months like December (can't imagine why!).

But what does running on autopilot really do for us? And how can we switch back into manual mode?

Shauna Niequist, in her book, Present Over Perfect, describes the soul as our connection point - to God, to life, and to the world around us. It’s with our souls that we really feel, that we love, that we ache, and that we feel God’s presence the most.

How to Write Your Own Children's Choir Curriculum

How to Write Your Own Children's Choir Curriculum

For some people, the word “curriculum” may denote academic rigor, standardized tests, detailed lesson plans, and lack of freedom and flexibility. Do we really need this level of planning and detail in our church choirs?

To a certain extent, yes. Here’s why: 

Curriculum can be defined a few different ways. My favorite definition is that curriculum is “the totality of student experiences that occur in the educational process” (Kelly, 2009). 

Think of curriculum like a guide: a plan to help you do your best teaching and help promote meaningful learning experiences. Like I tell my students in Directing a Church Children's Choir 101, a curriculum is your basic framework for all the teaching and learning you hope will take place in your choir this year.

7 Things I Didn't Learn in Music School

7 Things I Didn't Learn in Music School

8 a.m. theory classes, 1-credit ensembles, concerts, performances, listening exams, and 10 p.m. practice sessions.

Ah, music school.

I’ve spent my fair share of time in music school: from my undergraduate degree in Piano and Organ Performance to a Master’s and Ph.D. in Music Education, I think it all adds up to 10 years (but who’s really counting?).

And yet, despite all that schooling (and all those recitals and term papers), there were still many things I didn’t know when I started building my career; things I had to figure out on my own and learn with time and practical experience.

3 Small Ways to Create Better Flow in Worship

3 Small Ways to Create Better Flow in Worship

What does it mean to have good flow in worship?

For me, flow means:

  • continuity
  • cohesion
  • an uninterrupted experience
  • continuous movement in one direction without bouncing around, pausing, or redirecting partway through

In contrast, a worship experience without flow may feel:

  • disjointed or mismatched
  • inconsistent
  • confusing or disconnected
  • distracting
  • awkward
  • thrown together

2017 Reader Survey Results [Infographic]

2017 Reader Survey Results [Infographic]

Last month, I put together my first reader survey and I'm honored that so many of you took the time to respond and give feedback!

More than anything, I want to create content that's helpful to you, so I asked you to tell me more about yourself and the work you do and to share your greatest rewards and biggest challenges.

I also asked for your thoughts and ideas for the future: What would you like to read about? What would help you in your ministry or teaching? How can I serve you better?

A Fun and Rewarding Experience for Your Youth Choir This Season

A Fun and Rewarding Experience for Your Youth Choir This Season

Whew! Take a breath.

It’s that time of year again. We are rushing to get music learned, behavior modified, costumes made, lines learned, food prepared, and everything cleaned. Rushing to the manger, with a little chaos, a lot of excitement, and, hopefully, the right spirit.

This is the time of year that we do a lot of outreach (especially in the “assisted living” department), so I want to share with you an idea that we found to be fun and surprisingly rewarding.

34 Meaningful Quotes for Music Educators

34 Meaningful Quotes for Music Educators

Sometimes, it's important to remember why we started.

Indulge me for a moment and ask yourself the following:

What first drew you to music?
When did you know you wanted to teach?
What are the pivotal moments that stand out in your memory - those particular students or experiences or revelations that propelled you forward, that fed your soul, that inspired you to keep going?

We all have our own answers and a whole collection of stories we could tell. This is one of the things I love most about teaching.

It's the heart behind what we do and the reasons why we do it that make teaching such a wonderful, life-giving profession (but maybe I'm a little biased?).

Star of Wonder, Star of Light: Worship Planning for Epiphany

Star of Wonder, Star of Light: Worship Planning for Epiphany

Epiphany, celebrated on January 6, marks the end of the Christmas season (commonly referred to as the 12 days of Christmas).

It’s a time in the liturgical year when we remember the magi’s journey and Jesus being revealed as the Savior of the world. In fact, the word “Epiphany” comes from the Greek epiphaneia, meaning “manifestation” or "striking appearance.” (source)

In some churches, Epiphany is considered the start of a new season that runs through the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. In other churches, Epiphany is celebrated as a single day, and the period that follows is considered Ordinary Time. (source)