Dear Creative: A Letter to Freelance Musicians

Dear Creative: A Letter to Freelance Musicians

Dear Creative,

Life as a musician is beautiful, messy, deeply fulfilling, and complex work.

It starts within—a desire to do work that matters, to make a difference; a yearning for beauty; a spark of creativity. It requires you to take risks, listen, adapt, and live with abandon.

It’s what all artists do, really. We dream, we try, we create, we innovate. 

There will be good days, times when you feel like you are making a difference, creating something beautiful, and truly serving people.

And, like anything in life, there will be hard days mixed in, as well.

7 More Theme Ideas for Your Next Choir Program

7 More Theme Ideas for Your Next Choir Program

A few years ago, I wrote a post called, 10 Theme Ideas for Your Next Choir Program. Today, I’m writing a follow-up post to share seven more ideas to add to your inspiration list.

Choir programs are a great way to keep your choir members engaged and committed to rehearsals (especially toward the end of the academic year, or over the summer) and explore some new music that you wouldn’t normally sing during the church year.

The music you choose will depend on your choir's interests and abilities, your church, and your goals for the music program. Plan a choir program as a fundraiser of some kind or to celebrate a special anniversary for your church. Consider collaborating with other church choirs in the area to create a special community event.

Six Things to Read, Watch, or Listen to This Week

Six Things to Read, Watch, or Listen to This Week

It’s that time of year: full schedules, full to-do lists; trying to keep up, show up, live up to expectations; rushing a little more, relaxing a little less. 

You know the feeling.

Often, they’re subtle changes—choices we don’t even realize we’re making until we find ourselves here: a little more anxious, a little less rested, a little more curt, a little less kind.

Maybe this is the week we give ourselves and those around us an extra measure of grace.

Maybe now is the time to step back, slow down, eliminate the nonessentials and simplify our schedules and hearts and minds.

Because teaching and leading and working from a place of stress doesn’t serve anyone.

Summer Conferences for Church Musicians (2019 Edition)

Summer Conferences for Church Musicians (2019 Edition)

For those of us who teach during the year, summer is the perfect time to learn and develop our own musicianship skills and catch up on some professional development.

Summer conferences are a great way to do this. They help us stay connected with others in the field; learn new things about playing, singing, directing, and teaching; find inspiration for creating meaningful and engaging worship services; and hear about all the latest music releases: choral, handbell, children's choir resources, curriculum, instrumental collections, etc.

Three New Habits I'm Cultivating This Year

Three New Habits I'm Cultivating This Year

This year, like many of you, I set out to create a few new habits in my life. You know what it's like: those things we do, the routines and structures that shape our days—our habits are patterns of learned behavior that are so second nature to us, we don’t even think about them.

“Out with the old and in with the new!” we say, as if it were that easy. But what does it really take to form a new habit?

According to Charles Duhigg, former New York Times reporter and author of the book, The Power of Habit, every habit has a cycle or loop:

  • The routine (the thing we find ourselves doing automatically)

  • The reward we get from that activity

  • The cue or trigger that starts the cycle

How We Structure Our Freelance Work Retreat (+ a Free Workbook!)

How We Structure Our Freelance Work Retreat (+ a Free Workbook!)

Every spring, my husband Steve and I set aside a few days for a work retreat.

We’re both music freelancers, so this is a time for us to take a step back from our businesses, reflect on the successes and challenges of the past year, evaluate what’s going well and what could be improved, and do some creative planning for the year ahead.

Often, we try to tie this in with a short getaway (because by March or April, we usually have a pretty bad case of cabin fever). In the past, we’ve found affordable rentals on Airbnb (a business expense!) within an hour’s drive and bring our dog Rory, our laptops, a few books, and food and snacks for a few days. 

How to Add Instrumental Parts to Your Choir Anthems

How to Add Instrumental Parts to Your Choir Anthems

Opportunities to play and hear different instruments has numerous benefits for your choir members. Here are three notable ones:

Benefits of Including Instruments

1. It helps singers be actively and creatively involved in the music-making process.

We learn by doing, by moving, by experimenting. For children, music is a form of play, and interacting with it by singing, moving, clapping, and playing instruments only deepens their experience.

2. It gives singers an opportunity to connect and engage with music in new ways.

The chance to experiment and try new things is a crucial part of the music-learning process, for learners of all ages. For children, clapping and playing instruments gives them an opportunity to improvise and even compose their own rhythm patterns and short melodies.

Four Pieces for Easter: A New Handbell Collection

Four Pieces for Easter: A New Handbell Collection

Easter is a joyful day in the church year. It’s the day we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection and victory, the gift of new life, and the hope of everlasting life to come.

All of this makes Easter the perfect time to pull out all the stops (no pun intended). From handbell acclamations to soaring soprano descants, brass ensembles to triumphant fanfares, there are lots of things you can do to help bring Easter to life in your worship services.

The good news is, Easter is more than just one day - it’s a 50-day season.

It’s kind of like celebrating your birthday all month long.

That’s why I’m excited to share with you Four Pieces for Easter - a digital collection of four pieces for 2-3 octave handbells (12-21 bells) designed to add a creative element into your worship services, both on Easter Sunday and in the season that follows.

Go-To Warm-Up Resources for Busy Choir Directors

Go-To Warm-Up Resources for Busy Choir Directors

Warm-ups for choirs are like stretches for athletes: they help prepare the muscles and engage the mind for focused, active work.

But more than simply warming up the voice and preparing to sing, choral warm-ups are a practical way to prepare and introduce new musical skills and concepts before singing them in the context of a piece of music. This not only saves you time in rehearsal, but it also creates a more cohesive learning experience for your choir members.

20 Tips for Working with High School Youth Choirs

20 Tips for Working with High School Youth Choirs

As a youth choir director, you know what it’s like to balance the responsibilities of being a teacher and a friend, a spiritual leader and confidant.

You know the challenges and rewards of building community and creating a safe, supportive environment where all can be seen and heard and valued.

But how do you approach musical growth and development at this age? How do you handle the unpredictability of changing voices? In the age of smartphones and short attention spans, how do you keep them focused and engaged during rehearsals?

Here are a few helpful tips for working with 9th-12th grade singers: