Upcoming Performances

December 1
3:00 pm Eastern

Messiah organist, First Presbyterian Church, Statesville, N.C.

December 3
8:00 pm Eastern

Haydn Creation organist, Rosen Concert Hall, Appalachian State University

December 13
12:15 pm Eastern

Music at Midday, National City Christian Church, Washington, D.C.

February 9, 2020
3:00 pm Eastern

Inaugural recitalist, St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Columbia, S.C..

February 16, 2020
5:00 pm Eastern

Evensong recitalist, Church of the Ascension, Hickory, N.C..

March 6, 2020
7:30 pm Eastern

Guest recitalist, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Knoxville, Tenn.

April 5, 2020
2:00 pm Eastern

Guest recitalist, St. Joseph Catholic Church, Macon, Ga.

April 18, 2020
7:30 pm Eastern

Concerto organist, Milligan College

May 12, 2020
12:35 pm Central

Tuesday Series recitalist, Church of St. Louis, King of France, Minneapolis, Minn.

June 21-26, 2020
Worship Organist, Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts, Lake Junaluska, N.C.

« Help Yourself V: "Saved Alone" | Main | Intimidating! »

“There’s a place for us…”

My childhood church introduced PowerPoint to their services many years ago, after I had left for grad school. I can still hear my mother now, yelling at the minister of music: “I learned to read music singing hymns in church and singing in children’s choirs! How are young people supposed to learn it now? They won’t know anything about music if all we do is show some words on a screen. And our children’s choirs will die. There will be no one coming up the ranks any more. What will we do then?”

She was right, and she wasn't alone. It has been happening for years now. Children's and youth choirs everywhere are wastelands. I have seen them die at the hands of soccer, gymnastics, cheerleading, the PowerPoint screens, the cultish appeal of the youth minister, and a general refusal to reappear on the church grounds on Sunday afternoon/evening. In one church I know of, the youth choir was reduced to ashes in a moment because the youth minister wanted that Sunday time from the youth choir director for other purposes AND got the pastor’s blessing for it.

There's more. In general, you can hear contemporary Christian music at any Chick Fil-A. But has anyone noticed that for months now, Chick Fil-A has been playing the accompaniment tracks with the vocals removed? What’s that about? And has anyone noticed how utterly trite, boring, vapid, and profoundly silent that music is without some words attached? Hour after hour, it’s the same four chords over and over again, the same strumming of guitars, the same beat. Same, same, same, same.

There there’s American Idol. And America’s Got Talent. And halftime shows. And Grammy performances. It’s not encouraging.

But there is always hope. People do grow weary of the same diet week after week. People do seek deeper meaning in their church music. I’m seeing it happen in all churches and across all ages. My church music students are a prime example. Nine years ago, my class of twelve had never heard of a hymnal. Today, a class of eight have all heard of hymnals and actually know some hymns. One student who played in a praise band said that although he gets an emotional and spiritual charge out of playing there, the music itself is repetitive and completely unsatisfying. By the time he graduated, he was mixed up over what he wanted to do. But he learned about all the options while he was here. And that’s the goal – learn and start down a path!

I believe we’ll eventually settle in the knowledge that there is room for all, even if many bands and organists wish each other would just go away. There will always be a need for organists, orchestra directors, and classically trained church musicians. You know, people like me. There will always be a need for musicians who are also ministers, not just ministers who are also amateur musicians. We’re human, you know – we all seek deeper meaning, eventually.

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