Sunday, March 11, 2012

Growing as a Church Musician

I am reminded of this pretty much every week: if you want to succeed as a church musician without completely losing your sanity you have to learn to be flexible! It's really not about perfection, but about how well you are able to roll with the punches and deal with whatever is thrown your way.

Every year, our church collaborates with another local church for 2 consecutive Sundays. The first Sunday, our adult and bell choirs travel to their church to join them, while the following Sunday they join us at our church. It's always a wonderful experience as we get 2 Sundays packed full of music!

This year, as a member of the bell choir, I was secretly looking forward to a 'morning off' from my responsibilities as church pianist as we were traveling to the sister church where their church pianist would be taking care of accompanying the choirs and performing all the service music. I was also excited about the opportunity about actually singing with the choir instead of accompanying them!

Think again.

When we arrived, I was approached by the church pianist, who asked me if I'd be willing to finish up the service as he needed to leave early that day. I was still able to play bells and sing with the choir, but I also played all the music for the latter half of the service. So instead of a morning off, I ended up doing more than my usual weekly musical responsibilities.

But you know what the neatest thing was? The fact that I didn't mind being asked to take on those extra responsibilities! And the fact that I wasn't nervous about them either! A year or 2 ago, if I had been asked to fill in in that capacity, I would have felt extremely nervous about the last minute preparations, and it probably would have ruined my entire morning. But as I grow as a musician and especially in my experience as a church musician, I'm learning to keep my cool and be available and flexible in whatever task I'm asked to perform.

It's exciting to look back and see how I've matured in my almost 5 years as a church musician! If you are a church musician, what are some of the ways that you have grown over the years?


  1. I have been the church organist for ages and recently I decided to take an online course to further my ability on the organ. I practiced diligently for a while and then life, you know, life got complicated. I felt badly about it but lately I have seen some improvement, even though I never practice on the organ. I go over stuff at home on the piano and somehow my efforts are improving my skills. Divine intervention?

    1. Well I'm impressed that you even took the initiative to take a class! I took 1 semester of organ in college, and that's the extent of my skill ;) Fortunately, the church I currently play for has a volunteer organist who is quite firm about the fact that SHE is the organist, leaving me to just piano responsibilities from week to week.

  2. Tell her that she needs to help replace herself someday. Having a substitute now and then is heaven for me. I would love to job share.

    1. When she asks for a replacement I will be completely shocked!! Then I'll have to dig my organ shoes out of the back of one of my closets... ;)