Wesley Memorial Church, a Methodist church in ...

Wesley Memorial Church in Oxford, where the Wesley brothers studied ~ Image via Wikipedia

I have a new job!  I’m so excited about it!  The position is Director of Music at Christ United Methodist Church in Northampton, MA.

A surprise email response

It must be Karma.  Just after applying for an office job online, I alerted my references by email.  The minister of the church is on my list.

He responded by saying he would keep an ear out for a call, also mentioning that the Minister of Music position was available.  Was I interested?

So I emailed him a resumé 5 minutes later.

The funny thing is, I had never heard him preach, and he hadn’t heard me play.


My interview went so well, I almost couldn’t believe it.  I felt like I knew exactly what to say, and contributed several ideas about growing the music program.

Then I played a Bach prelude on the piano, since I hadn’t played organ for the past 8 years.  The organ playing would have been no problem, but I was concerned about the pedals.

When I asked the search committee to choose a hymn, they were ready.  (They had been planning to do so all along.)  No problem ~ it was something I had played many times.

I was asked to play the hymn as if for a service, with whatever introduction I felt appropriate.

And then, one committee member said “this is the Methodist test.”  Again, a hymn I knew well.  (I’ll leave it up to you to guess the composer.)  But I wasn’t worried about the hymns anyway, since I’m a good sight-reader.

b/w line art drawing of a console

Image via Wikipedia

The position

The church is in transition, and has recently dropped Wednesday night choir rehearsals.  This morning (my first Sunday), we talked about how we might proceed.  I don’t want to see the choir become nonexistent.  Starting over would be more difficult than doing something.

Next Sunday, we will rehearse from 9:00-9:40 a.m.  We decided to go with singing twice a month for now.  But if things work out so we can sing every week, we will!

A choir member volunteers to file the music.  She gave me a tour, then offered to set aside some anthems that would be easily learned.  The goal is to get us going for 2 months.  I appreciate her help!

First Sunday

Although I have played for church in many different situations and denominations, there is always something unfamiliar.  This morning, a choir member (who introduced himself as “my bass”) anticipated the things I might not know.  He was right on, and talked me through a few spots in the service.

As a result, things went very smoothly!  No music dropped on the floor unintentionally (although that is where it went whenever I was finished with a book), no responses out of order, no introductions missing when needed.  May my luck continue!

New shoes!

After coffee hour, where I met many wonderful, friendly parishoners, I stayed to acclimate myself to the organ.  The delay from key drop to sound will take a little getting used to, especially in faster tempi.  I remembered how to pedal better than I had expected, though.

This week, I purchased professional pedal shoes for the first time.  I tried them out today.  They are absolutely wonderful!  I looked online, and ordered from www.organmastershoes.com.

The shoes have 1-1/2 inch heels, a steel shank, and suede soles.  I was concerned with the soles, having never seen suede soles before.  Would they be thin like ballet slippers?  Would they wear through right away?

The soles are firm and feel like normal shoes.  Suede is used because it “sticks” just enough for accuracy, yet moves around well, too.  It makes noiseless pedaling easy!

And the shoes look cool, too.

Blue Suede Shoes

A look to the future

This job is not in my town.  Since travel is involved, and since I will be making the trip to practice there, the time commitment may affect the frequency of my blog posts.

If I feel pressured for time, I may be posting once a week rather than twice.  The most likely day would be Friday… we’ll see.

So please bear with me as I adjust to new things, and be patient.  But don’t go away!  I’ll still be here.   🙂

Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!


“Goal-oriented Practice: How to Avoid Traps and Become a Confident Performer” gives every musician a fresh perspective!

My book frees up time to learn more music, memorize, or do something else entirely!

“Goal-oriented Practice” is also available in print!

Goal-oriented Practice

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August 2011 review by pianist Robert W. Oliver

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