Music Ministry 101: Music Ministry Administration

Merriam Webster’s definition of administer is to manage the operation of something.

Ministers of Music, how are you managing or operating your ministry?

In many situations, pastors quickly hire musicians based on musical skill alone and assume that they will adjust to the administrative responsibilities or don’t believe that the administrative tasks aren’t important enough for development and training. You can’t be an effective leader and lack the ability to manage your responsibility. It hinders the church to have Ministers of Music who are really musicians that are inappropriately titled because they don’t have the gifts of administration, leadership or service (loving people).

So, what does music ministry administration look like? I’ve organized these tasks into two areas, internal and external ministry affairs. If I’ve left anything out, feel free to add in the comments section of this post.

Internal ministry affairs (responsibilities within your church)

Rehearsal-Connect with the bus ministry for choir members who need transportation. Prepare songs for your choir/worship team and chord charts for musicians.
Announcements to congregation and choir-Write announcements using appropriate grammar and spelling. Give announcements early enough for ministry members to prepare.

Service planning-Communicate with your church secretary about congregational songs to include in the church program and provide the hymn/song. Communicate with the media ministry about announcements and lyric slides.

Uniforms- To avoid discord in your ministry, use robes or colors that don’t have varieties of shades. Collaboration with other ministries in the church-Be willing to suggest appropriate songs and keys to the youth leader about songs children can sing for Christmas and Easter skits. Leadership meeting with other church leadership (deacons, pastor, auxiliary heads)-Learn from your elders and be willing to share words of wisdom as well.

Budget-Communicate with church trustees about budget updates. For financial transparency and integrity, keep a duplicate budget book for the music ministry.
Fundraising-There must be a “why” to your fundraising. Plan your ministry needs before you begin selling items.
Management of equipment-Have a working knowledge of how your instruments operate. Develop a relationship with instrument vendors and sound technicians.

External ministry affairs 

Professional development- A workshop is not a rehearsal with a guest choir director; that’s a rehearsal. What can you provide your ministry members besides new songs to learn? Read a worship book together and study. Invite a clinician to discuss vocal techniques or a ENT (ear, nose, throat) physician to talk about throat care. As a music ministry leader, you need separate development for yourself. Don’t be afraid to include this in the ministry budget.

Outreach (How can your choir minister outside of the 4 walls of the church?)

This doesn’t have to require singing! Think of unique ways to bless your community. There are international music ministries who are looking for financial support to equip musicians for world-wide ministry. GTM ministries (Gospel Through Music) is one I personally support.

Ok, so I’ve given you all of these wonderful tasks, now how will you get these things done? Well, we’ve all met members of our congregations who love the choir and wished they could participate but “can’t sing.” These are great people to ask for help; it’s a great way to activate the gifts in your church.

Remember that no man is an island. Don’t be afraid to ask for help in areas where you lack knowledge. God is pleased when we share our experiences with one another. Be intentional in serving God with excellence!

To listen to this topic on the Worship Builders Podcast, click below:
Episode 38: Music Ministry 101-Music Ministry Administration

Sonja R. Jones is a wife, mother, educator, author, and a Virtual Worship Pastor. Her assignment is to spiritually cover music ministry leaders, help churches develop and retain music ministry leaders, and equip and send music ministry leaders to churches. Connect with her online at www.sonjarjones.com

12 Steps To Discovering Your Call To Music Ministry

If you’re a regular around here you know I try to share information that offers information to help take your music ministry to the next level. That’s really my only requirement for content here. It needs to teach something. Offer some advice, or some tips. Some kind of how to.

Many people who know they’re called to music ministry still find themselves searching for their specific calling within music ministry. I realized at an early age that mine was teaching and directing.  But if you’ve been struggling to really nail down what your specific calling is in music ministry you’ll love this great article I found on Churchleaders.com .

I really love articles that give specific steps. In his article “Discovering Your Call To Music Ministry” Minister Michael Dottin not only gives us 12 specific steps, he also includes specific scriptures related to each one.  This piece is a quick read, but full of great information I know will bless you if you find yourself in this place. Click the title or image below to read the full article.

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How To Identify Keys On A Piano (every singer should know this)

You’ve heard me say it before if you’re a regular reader, but every singer should at a minimum be able to tell the musician what key they sing a certain song in. Especially in Gospel churches where most music is done on the fly and you often don’t know who’s playing for you. Knowing what key you’re going to sing in insures that you won’t start in a key that’s too high or one that you haven’t been practicing in. We’ve all seen that happen and it ain’t pretty!

Even if you’re not interested in learning to actually play, learning your keys on the piano is easier than you think. In fact if you can say your ABC’s (you don’t even need all of them, just the first 7) and recognize a very simple, very repetitive pattern, you can learn the keys on a piano in minutes. Look at this graphic of a piano keyboard. piano-notes-and_keys

The first thing I want you to notice is that, as I said, we’re only using the first 7 letters of the alphabet, A thru G. Now look at the black keys. See the pattern? All the way up the keyboard, you’ll see groups of 2 black keys and then 3 black keys. Now let’s look at the key of C. Notice how the key of C is the first white key to the left of the 2 black keys. Because this pattern repeats the entire length of the keyboard, every time you see 2 black keys the first white key to the left of them will be the key of C.

Once you know where the key of C is, it’s as simple as pressing down the next white key and saying the next letter in the alphabet. Look at the graph again: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C. We started over at A when we got to G because in America these are the only letters we use in music.

So what about the black keys?? The black keys represent the sharps and flats in music. This can get involved if you’re actually studying music theory, but that’s not our purpose here. We’re just learning how to identify what key we’re singing in. For that we can use this simple rule: The first black key to the RIGHT of a white key is it’s sharp. The first black key to the LEFT of a white key is it’s flat.

So let’s look at the key of C again. Where is C located? First white key to the left of the group of 2 black keys. So if we look at the key of C, what’s that black key to the right of it? It’s C Sharp! Or, you could call it D Flat, since it’s the first black key to the left of the D key. This also works all the way up the keyboard. For example what is the black key to the right of the A key? You could say “A sharp”, but it’s more commonly referred to as B flat. Either way, if you said it to a musician he’d know where to put you.

If you have a pretty good ear- meaning you can listing to music and find that key on a piano, then now you know how to identify what that key is so you can tell a musician. But if you can do that, then why not take it one step further and just learn how to play! Learning to play keyboard will absolutely transform your singing, and you can learn it on line.

By far my top resource on-line for learning about piano, no matter what level you’re on, is HearAndPlay. These guys have a ton of free information that will help anyone at any level understand more than you ever thought you could about playing the piano. It’s really a good thing to be on their mailing list if you’re someone who is serious about learning how to play. You can get some free lessons just by visiting this link. Check it out!
Free Piano Lessons

Passion Wins You Favor With God, And With People: A Case Study

So I have this friend. We grew up together attending the same church. We both sang in the choir practically all our lives. For most of those years I directed and taught.

She sat under my teaching for all those years. She’s an amazing singer who is passionate about music ministry. So when I would teach concepts and new things she would always be the first to embrace them. She loved God, loved singing for Him and loved anything that had to do with learning more about how to serve Him better.

Fast-forward 30 years. We’re both adults now, still working together in the choir. I’m still teaching, she’s still in the soprano section, killin’ it. Practically knowing her part before I teach it now because she has soaked up everything I taught for so many years.

Then suddenly we hear that her husband has been re-located to another state and she’d be leaving us. We were devastated of course. She was a tremendous asset.

Shortly after she got established there they found a new church. Of course she went straight to the music department. To make a long story short, she passed every evaluation and audition task they asked of her with flying colors. They were amazed by how much she already knew.

2 or 3 years later her husband’s assignment ended and it was time to move back to Texas. As they began looking for a new church home in Texas people she worked under in her old church began to send out word about her to people they knew in Texas.

One of those churches was looking for someone to head up their music department. My friend had never done anything like this before. Had no experience running a music ministry.

But guess what she did have? She had favor. Her passion, dedication, enthusiasm for learning and serving God in excellence went ahead of her and opened a door for her to step into something she never dreamed she would be doing.

My friend is now running the music department at a church here in Dallas. Now, here’s where the story comes full circle. My friend knew a lot about harmony, how to hear it and how to put it together, but she wasn’t yet where she wanted to be. She had also taken on many more duties at her church and basically didn’t have as much time to devote to it any more.

So she went to the board and ask them if she could hire someone to come in and teach songs on rehearsal nights. And whom do you suppose she recommended first? I’m going there tonight to conduct a rehearsal; with a strong possibility that I could land the job permanently. See how that works?

You don’t have to seek the spotlight. God will shine it on you. You don’t have to kick down doors. God will open them for you. You don’t have to complain about being denied opportunities. God will give you favor over people you KNOW are more qualified. All you have to do is serve God in this ministry with all your heart and give Him your best. Do it because you love it, and because you love HIM. There is a saying that goes “Your actions speak so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” Here’s a really good full-circle example of how that can work.

Be encouraged.
Ron

The Real Reason All Gospel Singers Should Take Vocal Lessons (It’s Not What You Think)

By far the biggest challenge I face daily in this ministry is convincing naturally gifted singers that they too need to invest in vocal lessons.

But that’s because so many people think vocal lessons are about teaching you how to sing. Well if I already know how to sing, and I was born into a family of singers, why would I need lessons, right?

But let me ask you for a moment to think about the last time you sang. Probably last Sunday. Whether you sang lead or background doesn’t matter. What matters is how you felt. Think back. Was there ever a time your attention shifted from the message you were singing about to the task of singing itself?

Think back. Did you at any time start to feel discomfort? Did you find yourself at any point just kinda wanting the song to be over?  If you did, you must understand that in moments like those your mind, heart and spirit are no longer available to God.

Physical and mental limitations become a hindrance to your ministry when they take your focus away from the message. You really can’t be a proper conduit for the Holy Spirit to flow through if the connection is broken.

That is the real reason all singers who proclaim the Gospel through music should invest in vocal training. It’s not so you can hold a note until the audience starts clapping in celebration of how long you’re holding the note. That’s about YOU. It’s not about being able to sing notes so high that they become almost irritating to the listener. That is also about you.

The real reason it’s important for Christian/Gospel singers should take lessons is to remove any physical limitations that distract you from the message. Physical limitations lead to mental distractions. Now your mind is somewhere other than focused on what you’re singing about.

Training your instrument simply makes you a better instrument for for God. It frees you from things that distract you. Things that keep you from being able to go when doors open. Makes you unable to focus your heart and mind on what you’re singing about. So when you take lessons you are taking steps to eliminate those things so that you can be more effective when you minister in song. Not by holding notes longer or singing notes higher, but by eliminating anything that breaks that spiritual connection to the message that you need to really move from performing to ministering. And that’s about God, not about you.

Listen, I can definitely understand the hesitation many people have to spending the money to take vocal lessons when they aren’t really sure they’ll benefit at all from them. You may have even been told as much by someone who took lessons. But you really can’t rely completely on someone elses’ opinion on things like this. There are too many variables.

Many people sign up but they quit after one lesson. Some continue to take lessons but they don’t practice at home so they don’t see results. So only you can decide if they’ll really improve your ministry, and you can only decide that by trying them.

I know that’s a scary thought for many people though. So I wanted every singer to have an opportunity to try vocal training for themselves without fear or reservation. To do that I created a free 5 day vocal training course. You can get this course by simply signing up for my mailing list. You won’t need a credit card, you will never be charged. It’s simply an opportunity for you to see for yourself what some training can do for your ministry.

You’ll be introduced to some simple, basic vocal lessons and concepts. If you take them seriously and actually do them, in a few days you’ll notice changes. At the end I’ll give you an opportunity to continue your training at a deeply discounted rate. Completely optional, of course. Some people go on to up-grade to the full home study course, but many more simply enjoy the free lessons and go their own way, more educated. Whether they upgraded or not though, thousands of people all over the world have taken this course and raved about it. You’ll see hundreds of testimonials below the video lessons when you join.

So take the the step right now by filling out the simple form below. If you do the exercises I’m going to show you in this course you will fill different by the very next time you sing. The next step will be up to you.

How your musical gift is like a Sweet Potato Pie

Thanksgiving day in America is steeped in tradition, the most important of which is the tradition for families and friends all over the country to come together and break bread. While everyone has their own favorite food staples, you’re almost sure to find Sweet Potato Pie on the menu at most gatherings. So I thought it would be a fun, visual way to look at a basic, fundamental truth regarding how all singers and musicians in music ministry should see their gift.  I’ll use myself and a fictitious friend in this little story to make it easy.

So imagine with me for a few minutes. It’s Thanks Giving day. I’ve spent all night long making my prize-winning Sweet Potato Pie. But I have to go in to work for a half a day and I don’t want the pie to arrive to the family dinner too late for everyone to enjoy. So I ask my friend to take it with her to the family dinner and I’ll join everyone later.

A few hours later at the family gathering everyone has finished dinner and is starting on the dessert table. A few people get a slice of the Sweet Potato Pie and start raving to my friend about it. “Oh my God Janice this pie is amazing!” “Girl you did your thing with this!” The complements keep coming as word gets around the house about how good the pie is. Meanwhile Janice is glowing and enjoying all the complements. Smiling and thanking everyone for the kind words. “Oh, thank you! God bless you! I’m so glad you like it so much!”

Later I arrive at the dinner after work ready to eat. it doesn’t take long for people to start coming up to me raving about how good my friend’s Sweet Potato Pie is. They go on and on about how great a cook she is, and how they’ve never had pie like that. And how I should really take some lessons from her!

I look at her and smile, but I don’t say anything. After all, I love her. She’s my friend. I would never embarrass her. But I know in my heart that SHE knows she didn’t bake that pie. She only delivered it. And I can’t understand why she wouldn’t give me the credit for it. Why wouldn’t she just say “oh thank you but actually Ron made it. I just delivered it for him”. I may never scold her or punish her or even mention it to her again. But the next time I need to choose someone to deliver something I created I’d be a lot more careful to choose someone whom I know won’t take the glory for themselves.

As singers, musicians, directors and worship leaders…whatever your gift is, we should all endeavor to think of our gifts just like that Sweet Potato Pie.  It’s not our creation. It doesn’t belong to us. We didn’t bake it, we were simply the ones God chose to deliver it to His people. So when the praises, kudos and complements come, we must always be sure to never take the credit for a pie we didn’t bake.