Music in Worship is Selah's occasional newsletter for church musicians, with interviews and helpful articles for choir directors, organists, and leaders of congregational song.
Say Thank You
To become a successful (or better) church musician, thorough knowledge of your field (organ, voice, sacred music literature) is of course a given. In addition, I think a personal faith is virtually essential to help one over the tough times and keep one centered and grounded. Some knowledge of psychology is also helpful, as church musicians are always dealing with people. Along these lines, I have found, through more than 30 years of working with volunteers and a few professionals, that the church musician can never say thank you too often.
Stressing the positive and praising people for their giving of their time and talent to their church and to God is the reward that keeps volunteers coming back. The oldfashioned art of writing thank you notes (preferably hand written, but also acceptable typed) adds that personal touch, and is an invaluable tool in building a group of happy, satisfied, dedicated volunteers. People like and need to feel that when they expend extra time and energy on a project (whether it is learning a flute descant to a choir anthem, or coming to choir rehearsal regularly throughout an entire season, or being coached to try their first solo stint being cantor for a responsorial Psalm), it is truly noticed and appreciated. A warm and sincere note of thanks from their director can mean more to them than any amount of money. It can make the experience so rewarding to them that they will want to try even harder and volunteer even more time the next time they are asked to do something similar or something even more challenging. The personalized Thank You note is one of your most efficient and effective tools among your array of techniques to succeed as a church musician.
Kenneth Lowenberg (b. 1939) was born and raised in the Chicago area. He attended Northwestern University, and graduated with a B. Mus. Ed. (with organ as primary instrument). He later earned a M. Mus., with a major in Composition, from the Univ. of Southern California. After teaching high school in Gary, Indiana and in the Quad Cities, Illinois, he accepted a full scholarship to attend the College of Church Musicians at Washington Cathedral, where he lived, studied, and worked on the cathedral close for a year, earning the FCCM (Fellow, College of Church Musicians). From there, he accepted the position of Minister of Music (Organist/Choirmaster) at Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., (since retired) where he headed a music program which included four graded singing choirs, four handbell choirs, a Gospel Choir, an All Church Orchestra, the Guitar Group, and a concert series, the "Chevy Chase Concerts."