The Church Musician Primer
The Church Musician Primer
A 4-week online keyboard skills class for church musicians.
Tailored to church music directors, keyboardists, and organists, this course will help you develop valuable sight-reading, score-reading, and harmonizing skills; equip you to 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.
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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 - things that simply aren't taught in most schools or private studios.
In this course, you'll 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.
Ready to get started?
- Four 30-minute instructional video lessons, released over the course of four weeks
- Lifetime access to the course videos and materials
- A comprehensive workbook with charts, musical examples, and practicing notes
- Weekly emails with class notes, assignments, and action steps
- Bonus! Access to an online community with fellow church musicians to network, ask questions,
and share ideas and resources
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.
Welcome & Introduction
August 10 - Module 1 available
August 17 - Module 2 available
August 24 - Module 3 available
August 31 - Module 4 available
I'm Ashley Danyew - church musician and music educator based in Rochester, NY.
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, including accompanying services on the piano and organ, starting and directing children’s and adult choirs, building a handbell choir program, and planning worship.
I can't wait to help you develop the key skills you need to play and lead creatively and confidently on Sunday mornings. See you in the course!