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New England Church at Dusk

Image by Matthew Midnight© via Flickr

There are many churches that present their own concert series.  Here are a few things you should know that no one may think to tell you.

I have several years’ experience being involved with churches as a preacher’s kid, a church musician, and a performer in concerts held in churches.  If you are not accustomed to being in churches, there are some things you need to know that will help you be asked back.

    The basics

    1. The “rules” are often unwritten, and vary by congregation.
    2. ​”We’ve always done it this way” is alive and well, and “everybody knows” is too.

      How to deal with concert issues

    3. Ask about program choices.  Is it acceptable to play a rag?  How about a Beatles arrangement?
    4. Inquire where you should park.  There are often reserved spaces, and sometimes the signs have long since disappeared.
    5. Always ask about moving the piano or furniture.  If the furniture normally stays right where it is, leave it there and deal.
    6. Ask how artists usually enter for their performances.  There may be expectations about this.
    7. Walk, don’t run.
    8. Speak softly.
    9. If you have children with you, give them something to do.  They need to be discouraged from running up and down the steps in front of the sanctuary, running around the altar, playing on the communion rail, etc.
    10. If you want to prop the piano lid open with something like a book, never use a bible or a hymnal.  You need a block of wood that you can take along for this purpose.
    11. No food in the sanctuary.
    12. Watch for signs posted elsewhere in the church concerning food and beverages.
    13. There may or may not be applause in a concert situation.  In congregations where applause is not part of the church service, people are sometimes shy about applauding at other times.  So be prepared, and don’t let it throw you.
    14. Make sure to thank the church secretary, who tracked down the director of music when you called and answered your questions.
    15. If there is a reception, thank the kitchen crew.  They are volunteers, and they’ll appreciate it.

Churches are wonderful places to perform.  The audience usually includes many members of the congregation, who appreciate music and will enjoy meeting you.  So check it out ahead of time, and enjoy your concert!

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