I have a project this semester – an Independent Study on church music. It will have an emphasis on planning out solo organ/piano music for the entire church year. Specifically, I’ll be pulling together appropriate music for services (prelude-offertory-communion-postlude), both hymn arrangements and accessible music from the ‘solo classical’ piano repertoire. At the end of the semester, my goal is to have a selection of piano and organ literature that is appropriate for each major church holiday (Christmas, Easter, etc) and the rest of the year.
Also, the project is to get a better grasp on the many aspects of being an effective church musician. I’ve begun to see that the pianist can do more than provide pleasant music or lead congregational singing*. It is similar to how a sensitive choral pianist knows what to listen for in choir rehearsals – they can diagnose the choir’s issues and respond as needed, while anticipating the director’s needs also. A good choral pianist helps facilitate a pleasant and effective rehearsal for everyone involved.
A good church musician can facilitate a meaningful experience for the congregation: and one of the ways is to complement the day’s message and tone with thoughtful musical selections.
I’ll continue working on hymns, also – learning about registrations, varying the hymns to match the lyrics, etc etc etc. I hope to blog this all out, both because it keeps me honest and working - but also, I haven't found much out there that quite addressed this they way I'm approaching it.
*It’s the difference between the two compliments “you are a wonderful player” and “you play a wonderful service”.