Taking a break

Hello dear reader!

Today was going to be a big day for Harmanny Music. It is, but for different reasons. It was going to be the launch of a podcast. But today, I am taking a break from Harmanny Music.

Why? Great question. Just 3 short weeks ago I had my highest viewed post. My highest viewed day. But in the midst of that day, I found out a dear friend died. I was shocked. I know that she is in heaven, but I mourned for her husband and younger son, both dear friends of mine. Last week, I found out that a dear family suffered a tragedy while returning home from a Labor Day weekend to the beach. They were in a horrible accident and the wife was killed, the husband suffered severe neck injuries and their 11 year old daughter was bruised physically, but now doesn’t have her mom to talk to anymore. This has led me to spend a great amount of time in prayer wrestling with the question of, is this really worth it? It’s not an income generator for me, and while I love writing blog posts, is that really the best investment of my time?

Peeling the curtain back, I am a full time church music minister. I love what I do. It requires a lot of me and my time. As does my wife, and my girls, ages 6 and 3 1/2. I really started wrestling with this though back in August, and I thought I could do it. The time constraints of ministry, marriage and parenting, along with trying to care for myself physically, spiritually and mentally, this choice is not hard.

I’m not shutting down Harmanny Music forever. I may try again after the first of the year, depending on how things go. I can’t thank you enough for the comments, encouragement and feedback you have given me. I am forever grateful.



Thank You

One of the things I am trying to get my girls to say regularly is “please” and “thank you”. My oldest has asked why she needs to and I repeatedly tell her that it is the polite thing to do.

Last Sunday, I played a piano/organ duet in worship with our talented piano player. On Tuesday in the mail, I received a thank you card in the mail from a member of the congregation, expressing their appreciation for the duet. I have been racking my brain to think if I have ever received a thank you note for a specific piece. I can’t think of one.

As musicians in the church, we know we are making music to give God the glory and honor. Yet, when we receive feedback that isn’t so positive, it stings and more often than not, we hold on to them. We remember those negative (or perceived negative) comments and can let them define us. Or maybe that’s just me.

As musicians, we are not defined by those negative comments. Maybe we can learn something from them, maybe there is no reason at all why those comments are shared. But when you are doing what God has called you to do, there will be negative responses. From my experience, that seems to be a given. People have opinions, and they are quick to express them. But my encouragement to you is to hold tight to those thank yous. Hold tight to the “attaboys” or “attagirls” you receive. Try to learn, if possible, from the feedback you receive, positive or negative. And don’t let the negative define you.


Yesterday, I blogged about the passing of Helen Kemp. She was a giant in children’s choral music. I promise I’m not going morbid on this blog, but there is an actual direction I’m going here.

In the midst of my day, I saw a post on Facebook from one of my dear friends to pray for his mom. I immediately text him and ask what’s going on. He replies, “She just passed away.” I was shocked and stunned. I felt like I was punched in the gut. She had a blood clot that went to her brain. She was in her early 50’s.

Sharon and her husband are dear friends of our family. They treat us like family and love our girls to death. One of the things that I was able to do was to help Sharon learn how to play handbells. She didn’t really consider herself musical, but apparently I was persistent enough. Desperation and needing ringers can do that, I guess. But she tried and tried, and I worked with her and encouraged her, and she was able to ring quite well. It was something that I was quite grateful for.

One of the other things that I am given credit for, but the credit truly goes to God for, is their son Brandon. He is one of my closest friends, and is extremely musically talented. He wasn’t doing much with music, but I chose to get to know him, encourage him and find ways to get him involved. That led to my suggesting his name when a worship leading opportunity came up at another church. He thrived in that opportunity. And I know for Rick and Sharon, that was something they were so happy to see. Brandon just started back to college this month. His first go-round when he was younger didn’t go so well, so now I know that he is going to do great. But I am thankful that Sharon was able to see him get started.

In our ministries and in our churches, we will have loss. That’s pretty much a guarantee as long as we’re living on this earth. Knowing that God is in control, we can rejoice in the knowledge that those who leave us are in heaven with God. And we can ask for God’s peace, that peace that the world cannot give. But it is in those memories and opportunities to make music together that we can find comfort. Making music is only part of what we do in our rehearsals, though. We fellowship with one another. We interact with one another. At least in the groups that I have been blessed to lead, there’s a good amount of fellowshipping going on! But that is a good thing, because it builds those connections to care for one another, to be there when others need it.

While yes, I am sad that Helen Kemp has been called home, and I am sad that my friend Sharon has been called home, I am thankful for the legacies that they have left, and the connection and impact that they have had on my life and the lives of others in so many different ways. I praise God for that, and I find comfort and peace in that. And I pray that when you experience that in your church or your ministries, that you find comfort and peace in those memories as well.

Helen Kemp

Helen Kemp

This is a very challenging post to write, but after I read the news, I knew I had to write it. Helen Kemp passed away. If you’re not involved with children’s choirs, you probably never have heard of her. But to those of us who are involved with children’s choirs or have been throughout the years, Helen had a great influence. Sadly, I never had the opportunity to meet her or hear her speak, but I have heard from those who learned from her and gained those insights as well as reading her articles. The closest I got was that up until her passing, I was friends with her on Facebook. In her 97 years on this earth, encouraging children to sing and sing well was one of her driving forces. She played a major role in the birth of Choristers’ Guild, a group that advocates for and provides amazing resources for children’s choirs.

In learning about Helen and her teaching, one of the things that was of great encouragement to me was using the whole body in singing and making music.  Her focus was four parts: Body, Mind, Spirit, Voice. This has been very influential for me and other directors as well. And it has been influential to children who have sung in choirs with this philosophy.

The children’s choir world has lost a giant. But the great part is that her influence and legacy will be long lasting. Not only her personally, but for those she has taught and influenced. This is a great thought for me today, as many schools in my area are starting up again for another school year. As choir directors, we have an opportunity to make an impact on so many young lives, not just through music, but through our caring. As children grow, they want to feel like they are capable of doing something well and that they are cared for. In some instances, one of the few times that children may feel that is in our choir rooms. Just like Helen Kemp, we as directors have an opportunity to be influential in the lives of those children, teaching them about music, life and much more. That thought excites me today. So, while I am sad today to hear of Helen Kemp’s passing, I know that the legacy that she has left extends to me and many others.

Rest in peace Helen, and I know that you are making exquisite music in heaven.