What on Earth Does the Church Musician Do?!? Part 1

organ pipes

This is the first in a series of posts detailing the actual duties required of the church musician.  Many of our congregations seem to think that musicians show up on Sundays and, maybe for a weekly choir rehearsal, and that that is the totality of the job.  This post begins with the keyboard skills required to be an effective church musician.

organ pipes

Hymn Playing: Since the art of leading a congregation in song is usually neglected in music schools, and since hymns are vehicle in which music is made in the parish, the CM (Church Musician) should make an exhaustive study of hymn playing, registrations, tempi, breathing with the text, and the turn around from one stanza to another. 

Accompanying: The CM should have skills in accompanying choral anthems as well as vocal solos.  This would include following a conductor, learning about registrations, and sensitivity to text. 

Transposition: Learning to transpose a hymn for ease of singing or to highlight a particular portion of the text is desired.  This skill is also necessary in improvising when leading into a hymn or anthem. 

Improvisation: The art of improvising, particularly upon a hymn tune, is desirable for occasions when more music is needed, i.e. communion.  It is also a tool for teaching new music to a congregation. 

Watch for future posts detailing other facets of the the vocation.