I’m a full-time Organist (pianist, accompanist, etc.) at a 1,600-member PCUSA congregation. Our organ, a fabulous 60-rank Austin in 3-seconds of acoustical glory, needs some renovations. The main issue: the computer is a TRS-80 designed in the 1970s and is past end-of-life date. Our plan is to build a completely new 4-manual console, replace the computer, and, while we’re at it, fix some gaps and issues in the specifications. All told the project will cost approximately $480,000.
I’ve not yet reached my 2-year anniversary in this position, and I previously served in part-time positions in small suburban/rural churches. As you can imagine, this organ project has been a learning experience for me, but not just about organ building. In fact, I’ve learned more about congregational communication, politics, staff communication, how to effectively advocate for your ministry, and so much more. I hope what I learned can help you, too.
First things first: Once the Organ Committee had picked a firm with a clear plan for a renovation project, we had to convince the Property Committee, Finance Committee, and Session. Each of these groups is full of interesting personalities that need to be convinced the project is important and necessary, and how their interests will be protected (i.e. can the back wall support a new en-chamade?). All eventually approved, but it took much preparation to anticipate questions that would be asked, and guarantee the organ committee was on the same page. They, after all, will be your biggest advocates.
Next: how to announce the project. Big congregations are like big ships and need to be nudged gently. Our announcement was actually a weeks-long educational campaign: in worship services we turned the lights on in the pipe chambers (our organ is covered with acoustical screens), demonstrated the function of swell boxes, explained the AGO’s far-reaching programs like POEs and AGOYO and how there are many young organists preparing for careers in church music. We designed bulletin inserts, articles for the church newsletter, stuffed the pews with pledge cards, created a dedicated webpage for the project including ways to give online, wrote blurbs about the project in weekly email blasts, made weekly 2-minute announcements in worship services, and sent a letter home to every church member (family) signed by our Pastor, Fine Arts staff, and the members of each Fine Arts committee explaining the importance of this project.
What I’ve learned so far:
AGOYO-SE Guest Columnist, Minerva McGonagall strikes again with advice for a new liturgical season, Pentecost!
It’s after Easter, and we all know what that means. Jesus Christ is risen, and the church organist is dead.
However, the high holy days aren’t over quite yet. After the Great 50 Days of Easter comes the last feast day before Ordinary (re:summer) Time begins: Pentecost!
Pentecost is the feast day celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit (i.e. Holy Ghost, Paraclete, Parakeet etc.) on the disciples of Jesus after his Ascension, held on the seventh Sunday after Easter. After an exhausting Easter season, we’re here to offer you some tips on how to get ready for Pentecost and that Holy Ghost action!
1. How To Learn a New Language in Time for Pentecost
As we know from the bible, Pentecost was when the Holy Spirit empowered people to “speak in tongues” and spread the message of Jesus Christ to people who spoke other languages. So, in preparation for Pentecost, we suggest learning a new language in less than 2 months! If the disciples did it, so can you!
A. Start by reading passages of scripture in that language.
B. Follow with intensive online research as can be found below and you’ll be ready in no time!
2. Fire Safety at Pentecost
The Holy Ghost is often represented as fire in Christian culture. Specifically, in Acts 2:3, “Suddenly a sound like a mighty rushing wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw tongues like flames of a fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”
It is understandable that this idea of tongues of fire might be concerning to some modern church goers, especially if your church building is made of wood. However, we have some helpful suggestions for how to incorporate fire into your worship service, that doesn’t involve burning down the building.
A. Chariots of Fire!
What better way to incorporate thematic material than in music?!
B. Dress for the occasion
Since setting oneself on fire seems a bit dangerous, we suggest you dress the part! Bring out your “fire”nery!
And finally, on the outside chance that your worship gets a little too “heated” we recommend you hit the floor and...
3. Parakeet vs. Paraclete
The Holy Spirit is often represented in the form of a Dove, such as in Genesis at the end of the flood, and at Jesus’ baptism. The Holy Spirit is also known as the Paraclete, which we believe is dangerously close to the word “Parakeet”, which as we all know, is another form of bird.
So, since Dove releases notoriously don’t go well (see below)
we recommend incorporating parakeets. Parakeets are a form of parrot, so they’re especially useful for things such as:
A. Scripture Readings
B. Giving the Sermon
(This parakeet can be hired through his agent Birdsong Inc. (no affilitation with Hillsong International) )
We hope after reading this article you’re feeling invigorated and on fire for Christ as we approach this Pentecost and that the wind of change is blowing in your heart.
Happy Pentecost, Y’all!
Last month when I knew I’d be at the mechanic all day, I brought along a copy of Alice Parker’s, “Melodious Accord." Just as preachers study diverse interpretations of scripture, every church musician has an obligation to read different philosophies of music making. Parker, as you might expect from her compositional output, is an exceptional writer.
In the book she pleads with church musicians to recapture the magical mystical elements of music that cannot be adequately notated on a score. She offers fresh ideas to give the gift of musicing back to congregations and, better yet, a philosophy for defending Music that doesn’t rely on its side-effects; she advocates music for music’s sake.
Organists are, by and large, a traditional bunch. So many of us cling to the hymns of yore, the ones we grew up singing and playing. For me that means rich toccata postludes, anthems by Goss and Parry, a hymn with transposing interlude and reharmonized last verse while I watch incense fill the room in grand procession. For your congregation it might mean hymns by Franny Crosby and anthems that embellish old gospel tunes. Whatever it means to you, we are all just fine with this standard: it’s more comfortable to sing the same tunes for forty years than to learn new ones. No organist has ever been fired for playing the congregation’s favorite hymns on repeat.
This trend is particularly contemporary. Partly due to the ever-waging worship wars and partly to feed our own discomfort, traditional worshipers have receded to the trenches, a theological safety zone, clinging on to things that “work” for fear of conforming to the times. To many, nothing cedes victory to the “contemporary music” movement like trying out new music in “traditional” worship. What would the church look like if the church historically silenced contemporary music? All of those hymns we treasure would never have made it into popular canon. There would be no romantic yesteryear to reminisce.
In her book, Parker offers ways to fix this and other issues. You’ll have to read the book to see if her suggestions can help in your ministry. But I challenge organists to consider, truly and deeply, our role as church leaders. Are we offering unique methods of music making to our congregation? Are we offering diverse styles? Contrasting hymn texts? Are we thinking about the quality of music or just about the theology of the text? Are we willing to make uncomfortable musical decisions for the benefit of our congregation? How far outside of our comfort zone can we travel?
Different musical options can reach the same results. If our goal is simply to worship God, our possibilities are infinite. Each denomination, each region, each individual church has its own tradition to continue, and it is healthy to continue doing so. I’m not suggesting an abrupt switch from the 1982 to Wonder, Love and Praise in your Rite One Episcopal parish. Rather, how can we broaden our approach? I have often found that when I analyze the goals of music in worship, I find multiple outlets to accomplish the same end.
With that in mind, creating traditions that last must be at the center of the worship wars debates. If we are quick to bend at the new and marketable, we quickly forget the pillars of our theology, and these repercussions are hardly ever considered at the time of decision-making. A new hymn text may perfectly capture a topic being left out of our hymnals, but if it is paired with a terrible melody, how good can the hymn truly be? On the other hand, choosing a hymn from the “old hymnal” because the congregation will know it better than one of the equally apt choices in the newer hymnal leads to a dead end in music creativity.
Before the hymns in our hymnals passed the “test of time” they passed the “test of ability.” Many of these hymns would be passed over if they didn’t have musical, textual, and emotional interest. Our churches should be laboratories for the new, labs that are capable of determining what works and what doesn’t, so that the best of our hymns might continue to inspire thoughtful worship for years to come.
Somehow we must learn to balance these two sides. Our society loves polarized debates. We love dumbing down and avoiding confrontation. How can we continue to offer the highest quality of music without reserving music for the elite? As young organists we are in a unique place to define the future of church music. Will we favor higher training over the grit of congregational ministry? I hope we, as a profession, will continue to feed the pastoral side of our careers, the servant side, the side that gives in a bit to special requests when we have the option to hide behind rules of liturgical correctness.
How are we, as young organists, contributing to such conversations? Our voices matter. AGOYO exists to not only connect young organists but to give us a voice. For years, young organists have complained about the lack of opportunities for cultivating camaraderie between generations. Many chapters pigeonhole young AGO members to roles like “Social Media Coordinator” or “Chapter Photographer.” The Guild is a bottom-up organization: POEs and Conventions are hosted by local chapters. The responsibility is our own to make an impact on the profession. As we create new, exciting music meant to last we too should seek professional relationships that last. If your sole connection to the AGO is through the AGOYO Facebook page, I implore you to step out of your comfort zone and attend a local chapter meeting. AGOYO officers, take an active role in your chapter and region. Explore leadership positions: every chapter can benefit from having a young organist leader. Message and meet other young organists, especially in your area. Fellow members of this AGOYO initiative have not only become my mentors, but my friends. If our sole outlet is to spark conversations on fleeting Facebook posts, I fear we will lose the voice given to us.
- Scott Ziegler, AGOYO Southeast
Organist, First Presbyterian Church of Lakeland, Florida
“Tick, tock, tick, tock” can be heard from the practice room across the hall. We have all heard it before: “use the metronome.” Label me a progressive, but I don’t believe the metronome is the panacea for all things musical. Here are some specialized tips to maximize your practice room efforts.
For students, practice time can be a commodity. Maximizing every minute can result in alleviation of unneeded stress. The confidence of being “ahead” while learning a piece can assure you more time to “fine-tune” and provide great satisfaction. Happy practicing!
“Have you recovered from Christmas, yet?” I’m sure that we have all been asked this question! After several months of planning, practicing, and executing music, we are exhausted. We can’t rest too soon, though, as Lent is right around the corner (Ash Wednesday is on Valentine’s Day this year – after all, what’s more romantic than ashes smeared on your forehead???). In the life of a church musician, it can seem that we can never catch our breath; there’s always something. And that “something” is precisely why we love our job(s). We are constantly engaged in some musical activity, administrative function, or pastoral duty that keeps us sharp and focused.
Some of us have titles such as Organist or Director of Music, or some combination of the two with assistant or associate tossed in for good measure. But let’s face it – the titles are misleading. The skill set required to be a church musician in 2018 is fairly extensive. We must be equal part organist, conductor, singer, administrator, counselor, confidant, leader, follower, and the list goes on. There isn’t a single title that can encapsulate the varied responsibilities of a church musician. So, how can we wear these different hats effectively? Hopefully, my post will provide a starting place for you to think.
1. Time Management is Vital to your Survival: When I was in college (lol jk, I still am), my commute from The University of Alabama to The First United Methodist Church in Anniston, Alabama, was 110 miles (roughly a 2-hour drive). Fortunately for me, I was not required to attend Wednesday night rehearsals, although there was the occasional funeral or rehearsal to attend. With such a long-distance commute, I was forced to schedule my time in Anniston to be as efficient as possible. On top of a full college course load, trying to practice for lessons, recitals, and church seemed like an impossibility. Again, managing my time was the key to success. Here are a few things I did (and still do) to stay ahead of the game:
2. Prepare in Advance: So now that you’re a master of planning and prioritization, it’s time to put it into practice by preparing for the responsibilities of actually performing the music (or leading a rehearsal, as the case may be).
3. Be a Stellar Colleague: It doesn’t matter how talented or skilled you are, if you don’t know how to treat your friends and colleagues, you won’t get the job. While this is somewhat of a generalization, I’ve seen it happen, as I’m sure some of you have, too. At the end of the day, clergy, staff, and musicians are all in it together (to quote High School Musical). Depending on your level of responsibility, the level of interaction with clergy and staff members varies. You have to use your own judgement to understand the appropriate boundaries and interactions.
Not only are there numerous hats that musicians must wear, there are numerous ways that those hats are worn. The above methods and suggestions that I have offered are simply reflections on my life and career, up to this point. Keep in mind, I was born and raised in a small town in Central Alabama (Talladega, for those NASCAR fans among us). In a small town, you are keenly aware of the fact that everyone knows everyone. In many ways, churches are the same. Churches are communities with their own social hierarchy.
I don’t claim to be an expert in professional etiquette or organizational structure. I am just another young organist trying to find my way through this thing we call life.
I hope that my comments have been helpful to many of you! If not, perhaps this article has stimulated some thought that will encourage you to find your own voice and your own style.
Christopher B. Henley
Organist and Music Associate
Anniston First United Methodist Church
My name is Ashlyn Batten and I am a part-time organist, part-time piano teacher and part-time therapeutic horseback riding instructor. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Comprehensive Music with a double concentration in piano and organ from Campbell University in Buies Creek, NC, as well as a Master’s of Sacred Music in organ from East Carolina University in Greenville, NC. I am also a certified therapeutic riding instructor through the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) International. I work 30 hours a week at a therapeutic riding program, am the organist and choir accompanist at a small church, and teach 5 piano students each week.
Many people ask me why do I not just get a full-time organist position? Well, quite simply, because then I would not have time for my other biggest passion in life: horses. While getting a full-time music job would be financially more stable, I would never be happy just doing the church music thing. That leads us to the next most obvious question: how do you make it work?
The first thing that I usually tell people is that I believe that God gave me both of my passions and that He will provide for my needs if I am using the gifts He gave me. I don’t believe that He would give me something that I’m so passionate about and not want me to use it or not provide for me while I am doing what He designed me to do. Follow your dreams and passions and, while things may be tight for awhile, they’ll work out. If your dream is to be a full-time organist and church musician, go for it! People may say you are crazy when you become a music major, and question your ability to make ends meet, but if that’s what you’re passionate about, go for it!
Secondly, while I may not be wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, I love what I do, and there’s a lot to be said for being happy where you work. It’s better to be happy and make a little less money than spend your life being miserable. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a job that you hate! If you have to work for most of your life, do something that you know you’ll love doing. As musicians, we can always find extra gigs to get a little extra income, so you have to focus on the “big picture” of finances rather than the small number of a part-time salary. You can easily make a couple hundred extra dollars by playing in a Christmas cantata, an Easter program, accompanying singers or instrumentalists, teaching lessons, weddings, funerals, etc.
Lastly, in my particular case, the schedule works out great! I work at the therapeutic riding program most every weekday morning, and teach lessons there almost every weekday afternoon. Then I have the regular Wednesday night and Sunday morning church gig, and fit in piano students wherever is left! The hardest thing is finding a day to actually take off. (Speaking of, that’s very important! If you don’t take time off, you will burn out, no matter how much you love what you do!)
All that to say, follow your dreams and your passions, and things will work out if you set your mind to it. Even if your biggest passions in life are polar opposites, there’s always a way to do what you love. Sometimes one will be a full-time job and the other a hobby, or perhaps, like me, you’ll have several part-time jobs.
While it may not be the easiest or wealthiest life, it’s a pretty great one!
Written by AGOYO-SE Guest Columnist, Minerva McGonagall (as featured previously with P.L. Travers last year). She wishes you all a Happy Advent and strict reminder that it's not Christmas yet!
Christmas is fun, they say. The holidays are a time of joy, and family and relaxation, they say. Well, if you know anything about what it’s like to work in a church for the holidays, you know that this is a false statement (especially this year, when Advent IV is also Christmas Eve!) While everyone else is off enjoying their holidays filled with beautiful Instagram posts of trees, food, and holiday activities, we’re stuck on the bench, experiencing what my colleagues so fondly call “A little bit of Christmas Rage.” So if this statement applies to you, we’re here to give you, “5 Ways to Combat a "Little bit of Christmas Rage!”
2. Instagram Posts About All the Fun
Family Holiday Activities You CAN’T Enjoy
3. Christmas Eve Dinner Envy
4. Christmas Music, Everywhere You Turn
5. All the Music Themed Gifts You Will Receive
These are just a few of the problems and solutions, but we hope they help you survive the holidays with just a little less of that Christmas Rage!
As a graduate student nearly finished with this chapter of my education at Mississippi College, I often consider the stark numbers published in a recent issue of The American Organist regarding the number of organ performance majors in the country. It will not shock anyone to hear that the numbers have dropped each year.
This results from a variety of factors, but I hope to address the most stressful aspect of life as an American college student, according to a recent study by Ohio State University: money. Of 19,000 students surveyed, 70% voiced tuition costs and day-to-day expenses as their greatest source of anxiety.
With majors such as visual arts and music topping many unemployment lists, and top music programs for organ performance costing more than $160,000 just to attain a Bachelor’s, it seems inevitable that fewer students enter the field each year. According to the Guild, 90% of available organist jobs are part-time, which may not appeal to students spending up to $300,000 for top-tier graduate schools.
But these numbers don’t tell the whole story.
While I can’t guarantee scholarships or good jobs, I want to dispel the myth that organ degrees are too expensive and don’t “pay off.”
Many young college graduates in a variety of fields struggle to find jobs. According to Business Insider, majors that may appear more practical such as biology, mass media, environmental science, and communications yield the highest percentage of unemployed graduates. In fact, music did not appear on that list.
Although music degrees can require a hefty price tag, many schools have noticed their suffering and increased scholarships accordingly. A degree in organ or sacred music with an emphasis in organ can often qualify for organ-specific endowments.
1. The availability of part-time jobs allows for students to work while in school.
Just recently in my city, five churches were offering part-time and two were offering full-time organ positions. Because Jackson, MS is not nearly as big as other metro areas, the multiple job openings tells me that other cities probably have equally large needs for organists, if not more. All the student organists I’ve known have been steadily employed on Sundays and Wednesdays since sophomore year of my undergraduate degree—a direct result of beginning to learn the organ in my freshman year.
Many students across other work fields pick up minimum-wage jobs that require more hours, and often inflexible, but part-time church work tends not to interfere with school. A colleague of mine didn't study the organ until nearly the end of undergraduate career, but picked up a job that fits his schedule within a short time of moving to MA.
2. Organ degrees often provide transferrable skills.
As one of my fellow AGOYO-SE board members pointed out, many music majors who don’t find full-time jobs in music after graduation generally succeed in non-music fields. The discipline, flexibility, and resourcefulness that accompanies an education in organ will transfer to other employment opportunities. Within the field of music, organists can also compose, arrange, lead choirs, write liturgy, cantor, teach, and the list goes on.
While majoring in organ doesn’t mean that everyone will acquire every one of those additional qualities, it is likely that an organ degree will provide instruction in at least some of those areas.
3. An in-state or smaller school can offer unique opportunities.
Everyone wants to attend the most prestigious schools, but this can result in overcrowded practice organs with outrageously low availabilities. Schools that don’t offer doctoral programs also tend to have fewer TAs, and thus eliminate the issue of dealing with an inexperienced assistant for classes like theory or aural skills. Similarly, smaller classes sizes can allow professors more time to thoroughly evaluate lengthy assignments.
Out-of-state tuition is responsible for some of the worst price tags, and nearly every state has at least one option for aspiring organists. If you live in the Southeast, check out our website database of local organ schools. Save the travel expenses and out-of-state tuition for your Master's, when you can nab a paying assistantship!
And let’s face it: departments for all majors can become highly competitive in areas where job positions fill quickly, and students are vying for particular professors’ studios. Smaller colleges promote camaraderie with less local competition. In a time when mental health among undergrads and graduate students is notoriously low, a welcoming and unified student body is essential to a positive experience.
There’s more than one way to receive a substantial music education, and even more ways to offset tuition.
No matter what path you choose, there are probably more options than you think. In the post-Recession economy, the idea of following one’s dreams may seem impractical, but I knew from a young age that I wanted to make music in the church. The three above points are just some of the ways that can offset the cost. There are many myths surrounding a major in music, especially organ, but I hope this article has put at least some of them to rest.
-Amy Lauren Jones, SE blog coordinator
In the last three years I’ve been employed by five different churches in four denominations: ECUSA, UMC, ELCA and PCUSA. These moves have been for one of three reasons: enrolling in graduate school, completing graduate school, or for a better opportunity/salary. I haven’t always agreed with the churches I’ve served, whether it be theological or political issues, and that’s okay. Church musicians often struggle with separating their beliefs from the beliefs of the churches they serve. My hope is that, in an increasingly polarized society, we can serve in churches that don’t necessarily preach what we want to hear.
1. You’re not alone. Most churchgoers do not agree with every belief of their church. Whether it be a disagreement with denominational leadership or a local pastor on staff, it’s impossible for an entire congregation to agree fully with doctrine from leaders. It’s next to impossible for people to agree as a congregation. Have you ever sat in a meeting with church elders or vestry? Ask a pastor how much disagreement exists in the pews, you might be surprised what you find. As a staff member it’s important to maintain a sense of loyalty when you’re on the clock and representing the church, but that doesn’t mean you have to agree with every decision.
2. Research. Why do you disagree with the church? Are you well-versed in related scripture texts? Do you fully understand the other side of the argument? It’s easy for us to see what divides us over what unites us. Is the opposition inspired by Satan? Likely not. While you may wholeheartedly disagree with someone on an issue vital to your own existence, that doesn’t mean they are out to get you. Chances are they don’t understand your opinion and you don’t understand theirs. Greet disagreement humbly and keep conversation respectful with those you disagree with.
3. Have Patience. Our world is increasingly impatient. When my iPhone doesn’t recognize my fingerprint on the first try, I feel the rage brewing. I often remind myself that just a few years ago we were forced to hit the number 9 four times to type one Z in a text message. Waiting a whole week for the next episode of our favorite television series to air seems absurd when entire series are available to binge watch. Before you reach conclusions about those you disagree with, take the time to listen to their opinion. It might take weeks, months, or even years but if you approach a problem with an open mind and heart you won’t regret the time you put in.
4. Communicate openly. After I left my last job I explained in an exit interview that lack of communication was a big problem in the position. I was told “You don’t exactly come from a profession known for practicing good communication.” It’s true, many organists would rather retreat to the bench than deal with a conflict head-on. Like any relationship, communication is the key to success. Working in a church is a unique place because staff members are Christians who (typically) genuinely care about each other’s well-being, family life, and are interested in your life outside of work. Trust me, it’s not easy. Try telling a conservative pastor that you’re in a committed same-sex relationship. But my pastor knowing about my home life has helped in more ways than I can count.
5. Embrace your differences. Whatever your differences may be, embracing each other is Christ-like. I’m no theologian, but disagreement didn’t stop Jesus from approaching people. I think of Mark 2 when Jesus dined with tax collectors, John 4 when Jesus talked with a Samaritan woman, John 8 when Jesus encountered the accused woman.… Whatever you think of these stories, Jesus did meet and talk with these people. We too should strive to work with all people without first checking their beliefs.
6. Separate work and personal life. It’s one thing for fellow staff to know about your personal life, but another for them to be a part of it. I have never joined a church I served. Joining a church as a member while working on staff can create conflicts. This isn’t true in every situation, but there comes a time where you’ll be thankful to represent yourself as a paid member of staff, and not a member of the congregation. In formality you are still an employee of an organization. I don’t check work emails from home unless I’m working from home, and I don’t get work emails on my iPhone. I know a very gentle, non-confrontational Pastor who, in a session meeting, was told “As a Pastor you are to be on call for members 24/7.” He delivered an eloquent speech explaining how that claim is false. Everyone needs time away from the office, even if the office is a church. See Exodus 20: 8-11.
7. Have a "line" and know what to do when the line is crossed. Decide which disagreements can be swept under the rug, which are worth fighting for, and which are worth leaving for. As a gay organist, I have no problem serving in a church that does not bless same-sex weddings. If my Pastor ever preached against homosexuality I would log into ONCARD and start the job search. Determine a course of action for yourself if you’re forced into awkward situations. How will you handle a homophobic comment from a prominent church member? Do you address your concerns, smile and nod, or run away screaming? I hope it’s not the latter.
8. Remember why you serve. I was a Music Education major as an undergrad. One of our first assignments was to develop a personal “Philosophy of Education;” what we believed about teaching and learning, why we wanted to be teachers, etcetera. To find meaning in your work it’s important to know why you’re doing what you do. It’s especially important if your position or salary ever comes into question. My purpose in serving as a church organist is simple: to lead people in praising God. The wording is intentionally abstract; it’s not limited to a specific genre of music or instrumentation and it doesn’t limit me to a specific audience. Theological disagreements don’t inhibit my ability to lead worship through music and thus such disagreements take a back seat to the task at hand.
I once heard a story about a senior pastor interviewing candidates to serve as executive secretary at a large suburban church. One of the final candidates, whose previous experience was largely in law offices and government roles, was asked “Why are you compelled to serve in this role, at this place?” The candidate’s answer: “I’ve been looking for a more peaceful, more relaxed, less political place to work!” You can probably guess - that candidate was not hired. Churches are political places and Jesus was political. Navigating difficult situations is part of being a Christian. As church musicians we have the unique responsibility of serving as influential leaders in worship without the ability to preach as ordained clergy. It’s up to each of us to find balance between our own beliefs and those of the church we serve.
- Monty Moniker, Southeast Guest Columnist
Hello all! My name is Amy Lauren Jones, and I will serve this year as a member of the AGOYO board and new coordinator for this blog.
Midway through a piano performance degree, I discovered the organ and fell in love with the instrument. In 2015, I completed a B.M. in Organ Performance at Mississippi College as a student of Dr. Robert Knupp. This fall, I'll finish my M.M. in Organ Performance at MC and then pursue a doctorate in choral conducting. Until my grad recital on October 23, you can almost always find me practicing the "Wedge" and the rest of my rep.
Since 2015, I've served as the organist and assistant choir director at Fondren Presbyterian Church in Jackson, MS. After accompanying choirs at MC throughout my time as an undergrad and grad student, I will also accompany at Hinds Community College this year. As the AGO's district convener for Mississippi and co-editor of the Jackson Chapter’s online publication, The Continuo, I seek to encourage interest in the organ throughout the state.
You can reach me at email@example.com and feel free to add me on Facebook. I always enjoy connecting with other organists.