7 Insider Tips for Aspiring Music Educators [Video]

7 Insider Tips for Aspiring Music Educators [Video]

Music careers in the 21st century are flexible and diverse, often incorporating more than just one thing. Many of us are freelancers, curating opportunities and crafting a creative career based on our varied skill sets and interests.

We're performers and teachers, writers and creators, collaborators and makers.

I decided to mix things up a bit and offer this post as a mini online workshop.

Today, I'm going to talk about designing and developing your music career, with a focus on music education and ways to incorporate that into the work you do. Because whether or not you pursued or are pursuing a degree in music education, teaching (in one form or another) will invariably be part of your future career, if it isn’t already.

How to Read Lead Sheets and Chord Charts [Video]

How to Read Lead Sheets and Chord Charts [Video]

You want me to play that? Where is the left hand part? Where is the time signature? Why aren't there any barlines?

If you haven't guessed it by now, I'm talking about lead sheets and chord charts.

I'm mixing things up today and offering this post as a mini online workshop!

So, grab a pen and a piece of paper (or better yet, print out the corresponding practice files - there's a notes page at the end of the packet) and get ready for a crash course in how to read lead sheets and chord charts.

This will be especially relevant to those of you in more contemporary church settings, but I think you’ll find that the skills used in playing lead sheets and chord charts are skills we can all use - these are just basic musicianship skills, for the most part.

So even if you’re not in a situation where you're playing from lead sheets on a regular basis, I think you’ll find the skills useful in the work you do - from harmonizing to composing to playing more by ear to developing flexibility, and more.

Enjoy! (And P.S. Be sure to watch to the end for an exciting announcement!)

How to Teach a Congregational Class or Workshop: Part II

How to Teach a Congregational Class or Workshop: Part II

Earlier this week, I shared helpful tools and resources for teaching a congregational class or workshop, including several ready-made classes and seminars and step-by-step directions for creating your own class or workshop (read it here, in case you missed it).

For those of you that may not have done something like this before, the idea of standing up in front of a room of people and talking may feel a little outside of your comfort zone. 

I get it. 

I mean, we’re musicians, right? Playing or singing in front of people is no big deal, but talking is a whole different story.

If teaching is new for you, here are a few practical tips for keeping your cool and creating a fun, meaningful, engaging learning experience for your participants.

How to Teach a Congregational Class or Workshop: Part I

How to Teach a Congregational Class or Workshop: Part I

Have you ever considered teaching a class or workshop?

Some of you may already do this - at a community music school, K-12 school, or local college or university. But, have you ever considered teaching members of your congregation?

Short-term classes, workshops, and mini-series are a great way to teach church members about music, worship, denominational history, etc. and help build a sense of community among the congregation.

Plus, if you plan a class that's several weeks long and happens to meet on Sundays, you may also (inadvertently) encourage regular attendance in worship.

If you love to read, research, and teach and you have curious congregation members who love to learn, this post is for you. Here's what you need to know:

How to Plan an Awesome Christmas Choir Kick-Off Party

How to Plan an Awesome Christmas Choir Kick-Off Party

Who doesn't love a Christmas party in September?! A Christmas choir party is a great way to kick off the new choir year, welcome new members, and build community, and a fun way to create some hype around whatever you have planned for Christmas.

My first year as Director of Music at the First Congregational Church in Westminster, MA, I surprised my choir one Wednesday night in September with a Christmas party. I hung up twinkle lights and pulled out a box of Christmas decorations for the tables. We drank hot chocolate, ate Christmas cookies, and played a few hilarious games (see below).

As an aside, for a group that didn't really enjoy spending time together in social settings, this was the start of building community. Within two years, this group of singers became a group of friends who truly enjoyed spending time together.

The next year, I planned a Saturday workshop. I brought in a friend (a professional conductor) to rehearse the group (a great learning experience for all of us), we read through our Christmas cantata, played a few Christmas games, and had a potluck lunch.