What a week!!

This was the 6th Alleluia Conference I have gone to. Every year is inspiring, encouraging, uplifting and more. I leave ready to get to work, reminded of the importance, value and significance of what I do.

This year was no different. Filled with insights, learning, inspiration and encouragement. I have new ideas to process through, new tools to implement, and lots of work to do. But that isn’t a big deal because I know that in the long run, it will benefit me as well as the music ministry. I am very much looking forward to seeing how God uses me and uses the encouragement, insight and resources I have been blessed with to encourage others to worship and praise God.

I am more excited than I have ever been to roll up my sleeves, plan, prepare and mark my music. I know that the amount of work I put in and what I expect of myself as a director and educator will go a long way in determining the success of everything I do, be it playing the organ, piano, directing adults, youth, children or handbell players, as well as composing and arranging.

I am prayerful and excited to see where everything goes!

Day 3 reflections

Day 3 was a day of inspiration and encouragement. I did pick up a few things, but really, it was being reminded of what I already knew, and being encouraged. My first session was with my friend Brad Nix, who talked about arranging for piano. What he said absolutely clicked as to why I was struggling to compose music lately. It is about starting with a plan. I hadn’t really been thinking that way, just starting with a blank canvas and being totally stumped. So that was my first light bulb of the day. Then I went to a handbell session with Arnold Sherman, a handbell composer and educator, and heard an exact presentation I had heard before about phrasing. Even though I had heard it before, I chose to listen, because I knew I could pull a few things out. Then I had lunch with my friend and composer Victor Johnson. Our chat was full of encouragement and I can’t ever thank Victor enough for that! Then a reading session of music, which featured a great by…..Victor Johnson as our third piece. It was great! Finally, I finished up with another session by Brad, this time, focusing on jazz chords and chord substitutions. Again, lots of encouragement and a reminder from music theory classes in college of things that I can do, but since I haven’t done them, they’re in the recesses.

I am absolutely ecstatic to finish today with a couple of conducting sessions with Dr. Donald Neuen. I’m ready to get home and get to planning, but I’ll have a couple of days of vacation first. But there is lots that I am extremely excited about. And encouraged to do. Lots of ideas and tools to add to what I had already planned to do this fall.

Day 2 reflections

What a day!! Primarily focused on children’s music, my head is now spinning with ideas!! My first session was on how to most efficiently use your time to practice the organ. Very insightful and helpful. Then in my children’s music sessions, I learned about ideas for circle time, ideas to keep kids engaged and welcome songs and name games. In the circle time session, I thought I would be getting ideas for my music and movement time for preschoolers. Oh, I did, but I also picked up ideas that will be fun for taller kids as well!! I can’t share too much right now, since some of them may read this. But needless to say, it will be fun, memorable and filled with laughter. In between my organ session, I had an opportunity to visit with my friend Eve, who is with Choristers Guild. She and I were talking, and I was sharing that I’m looking for lots of creative ideas and things to keep the kids engaged. And then she excitedly said she knew just what I needed. And she did. Her husband helped to co-author a resource on drumming. But it’s more than drumming. It’s rhythm activities that tie in Bible stories. I was so excited!!!

Finally, the last session of the day was one I was looking forward to and dreading. Copyright law. When it comes to music, the copyright law can be convoluted and hard to decipher. And sure enough, it was very insightful, but it now means that I need to throw out the copies I have made of my organ music so I can turn the pages. Basically, any reproduction or manipulation of the music (including transposing parts for other instruments) without permission is a violation of the copyright. No more making copies of handbell music to highlight parts, as I was told was ok. It isn’t. Is someone going to come and check up on me? No, but it is a matter of integrity.

The last event of the day was a “choir rehearsal” led by Dr. Don Neuen. He was inspiring, had high expectations and was encouraging. I found this very beneficial in analyzing how I interact with choirs. Since I have had low expectations of myself, that’s where I placed my expectations for the choir. But now, I m expecting more of myself, and there is nothing wrong with expecting more of others. They are capable, and it is my responsibility to help them achieve it.

All in all, it was a great day. I look forward to a potpourri of different topics today. An intro to piano arranging with my friend Brad Nix, a more in depth look at drumming with Eve’s husband Brian, and a conducting session with Dr. Neuen. It’s going to be a great day!!

Day 1 dinner thoughts

I’m eating dinner and reflecting on the amazing time I have had in the past 6+ hours. The opening worship is always phenomenal. We start with “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name”. It is so powerful to hear 300 some well trained singers singing in parts. Then we sang a couple of fantastic worship songs, sang “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and closed with a little ditty called Hallelujah something or other. It was written by some Handle guy. Yeah, THE Hallelujah Chorus. WOW!!

One of the best parts is the relationships I have cultivated over the years. So, one of the things today was visiting with amazingly talented folks. One of my favorite parts of the conference is due to the smaller size, the opportunity to interact with composers and other leaders is amazing. Wae sang through some beautiful music, one by a friend of mine. The best part was I got to compliment him later on how impressed I was with it.

I got to sing through a newly released Christmas cantata by the incomparable Joseph Martin. We’ll definitely do it at St. Timothy sometime in the future!! Then I learned more about improvisation from Isabelle Demers. That was fun!! Heard a great concert by a phenomenal youth honors choir, then off to dinner. I get to go back for an amazing sight reading session of anthems with instruments. It is one of my highlights of the week.

Processing these thoughts just from today will take time. And that’s just the start!! Tomorrow, Thursday and Friday are still to come!! Check back for more!!

Alleluia Day 1

It is day 1 of the Alleluia conference, a conference I’ve been going to for the past 6 years. It is held at Baylor and it is excellently done every year. I usually start with a plan and idea of what I am going to do each year, and every year, God sends me a little creative redirection. This year, I know will be no different. Although last year, I came a month and a half into my new position, still learning what was expected of me and what to expect of myself. Now, I have been through one year, have a clearer view of expectations and am a bit more focused in my choices this year. But, time will tell if that stays the same. Check back this week for new posts!!!