Posts filed under ‘Church Music’

Stretch Yourself – Part 3

When I first started working with my producer, Peter Link, I had to literally learn a new musical language.  He came from pop and theatrical music as well as the studio world of creating lyrics and recorded music first.  The sheet music always came well after the singers had made the recording of the song or album at hand.

Peter was accustomed to writing music, initially with his guitar, and later sitting at his computer keyboard and playing in melodies, chords, bass parts, —  orchestrating as he went along.  So when the singer (me, for example) came along to learn a song to record and/or perform, sometimes, there would be simple lead sheets (melody only) but usually I was given a study track and lyrics.  To this day, these are my starting tools whenever I do studio work with Peter and, most often, with other producers as well.

So, Peter comes from the school Composers who work with Ear Musicians — singers and instrumentalists who listen and learn from the study tracks and lyric sheets.
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September 28, 2017 at 6:22 pm Leave a comment

Stretch Yourself! – Part 2

Hello again, good friends!  Here is part 2 of the Stretch Yourself series of blog posts.  Included here are excerpts from Watchfire Music’s free Info PDF download included in Peter Link’s new Solos For Sunday Morning Song Bundle.

The Informational PDF covers some of the issues in negotiating contemporary church music and its particular challenges.

At WFM, we have realized that we have not communicated nearly enough about the many wonderful Study Tools that a large majority of our WFM Composers are offering to church musicians to aid in their preparation of the music.

If you are a church musician or a passionate supporter of sacred music and musicians, I hope you will find  this series helpful.  Maybe it will spark some conversation around the music in your church!

If you are just discovering this series, click here to start from beginning to read Part 1.  You can also download the whole PDF here.

If you are up to speed, here is Part 2:
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September 25, 2017 at 11:10 am Leave a comment

Live In Peace

Life has been jam-packed.  I believe it is for most everyone these days.

My “jam-packed” is filled with music projects, deadlines, rehearsals and all things Watchfire Music, while currently recording my newest album. It’s a sacred CD that will also offer digital sheet music for many of the songs so that they may be performed in local churches and inspirational events around the globe.

It’s been several years since I recorded a CD of specifically sacred-centered or church-focused music. This sacred music is my foundation, though, from which all other music and projects spring.  It’s a total joy to work on this.  It’s home.

As part of my preparation for the CD, lately I’ve been going on rehearsal-walks: I take my iPod and ear buds and head out to the nearby park.  I walk several miles and dive deep into the music tracks — living the lyrics, feeling the harmonies, and walking the rhythms.  I dream the stories in each song.
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May 5, 2017 at 10:22 am 2 comments

Back to the Future at TMC!

Julia at TMC in Boston

A return to a spiritual/musical home in my life!

Recently, I had the great privilege of attending the morning service on Sunday at The First Church of Christ, Scientist – also known as The Mother Church (TMC). It’s the worldwide headquarters of the Christian Science church where I served as the Soloist for 7 years.

It’s been 4 years since I took my last turn as Soloist at TMC, and it was a joy to return and be a part of the congregation.

While there, I felt the past, present and future all combined in one. The past: feeling the foundation of this church!, wonderful memories, being back in this grand place, and seeing friends and colleagues. The present: experiencing the perpetually holy and healing service in full bloom as a congregation member. The future: Sitting with a congregation of new faces which included new Readers about to begin their tenure! (more…)

May 24, 2016 at 1:04 pm 1 comment

About Solo Thoughts

solo thoughts 3rd qtr ba

Do you know about Solo Thoughts?  

It’s a great research tool to help church soloists, musical directors and music committees to find music appropriate to church services — particularly songs for the soloist.  It’s called Solo Thoughts and Watchfire Music publishes this quarterly and monthly.  We’ve been doing this now for about 8 years.

If you are new to Solo Thoughts, here are more specifics: Solo Thoughts matches 12 to 24 solos per week to each Christian Science Weekly Bible Lesson.  It also provides a purchase link to buy in-print sheet music for your church service.  This is a very detailed document that cuts your own research time down as well as introducing you to new sacred solo repertoire.
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May 22, 2015 at 12:00 pm Leave a comment

To Clap or Not to Clap — Applauding in Church

I received a Facebook message recently from a friend asking me about my thoughts on applauding musicians after performing during a church service.  As the Soloist for seven years at The Mother Church, (the international headquarters of the Christian Science church in Boston), I had many experiences that involved applause… and many that did not.

I messaged my FB friend back with my thoughts.  She then asked me to share my answer to a broader audience.  This issue has come up often, so it seemed like a good thing to do.  Here goes!
Applauding_hands
Her Question:
“My question is related to the presentation and thanking of musicians during the services:  Many branch churches are considering being more socially warm toward our musicians. (organist and soloist).  Since the Church Alive Summit in Northern California*, many people are questioning whether applause is acceptable.

 I understand that The Mother Church (TMC) does not want to influence branch churches in their decisions, but I’m wondering why at times I have heard applause in the TMC service broadcast, and not at other times.”

* Regional gatherings of Christian Scientists and friends that are held around the world

My Answer:
Well, put on your seatbelt… Here are a lot of thoughts comin’ atcha!

I’m going to begin with the idea of applause in church.

First, it has been my experience that each branch church is working out applause and how to be more inclusive in their services on an individual basis.  I think it comes down to how the members of a particular church feel as a group.
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July 20, 2013 at 9:05 pm 13 comments

My Last 3 Months… A “Bleet”

Wow! I can’t believe it’s been 3 months since I have posted on my blog.  I have sincerely missed writing and posting.  Where does the time go?  In an effort to catch up fast and move forward, I offer you… a bleet!!

What, you ask, is a bleet???  A bleet is a cross between a short blog post and a tweet.  See, with a bleet, you can be short, but you don’t have to keep it to 140 characters, which, of course, is an absolute impossibility with me.  (And in case you’re wondering, I just made all that up!)

So, here’s my bleet about the last 3 months:

Julia with Bryan Ashley

At The Mother Church:  March, April and May took me weekly up to Boston where I continue to sing as Soloist at The Mother Church.  I sang some gorgeous, inspired music ranging from the wonderful contemporary songs of Mindy Jostyn, (“I And My Father Are One” and “Prodigal Child”) to a perennial favorite, “On Eagle’s Wings,” to several deeply loved traditional treasures: “Arise, Shine” by James MacDermid (with acoustic grand piano) and the healing words and music of “Reality” by Dorothy Currey Chancellor.

At The Watchfire Music Listening Room:  From March through May, I performed at The WFM Listening Room in New York City.  As a partner in Watchfire Music, I have been helping to develop this wonderful performance venue with Peter Link and have also co-produced concerts when not performing:
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June 17, 2011 at 10:11 am 1 comment

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