I know what you’re thinking – “A church musician? There is nothing to it but just a couple of simple church hymns and psalms.”
That may be the case – but there is more to it than you think.
Church can be labeled as dull when it comes to learning about religion, committing to attend services every Sunday, and trying to stay awake.
I was raised in the Catholic Church during my childhood. I had a tough time understanding why I needed to attend church every Sunday and why the Catholic faith was beneficial to my life. I then decided to leave the religion around the age of 17.
During my undergrad, I was approached by one of my peers and asked if I was interested in playing an Easter Mass. I was hesitant at first, but I figured there was no harm to present what I could do in music performance.
After performing and exposing my artistry, I was hired again and today still work as a church musician.
Here are some benefits to being a church musician:
Networking – You could say networking to a higher power, but down here on earth, there is potential to create a network of opportunities in the performance industry. With the idea of being a church musician, you may believe that other performance gigs may be narrowed. Nevertheless, there are musicians who know other players who are looking for musicians. I’ve been hired outside of the church community thanks to word-of-mouth of music directors.
Artistry – Sometimes we need to itch the scratch that’s been lurking for a period of time. Performing in front of an audience can be uplifting and thrilling. Expressing your art in a group setting is great practice for your artistry. Receiving feedback from the public and other fellow musicians makes you reflect on how to improve your craft and how to raise the bar on music performance.
Community – Not only are you marketing yourself in front of a congregation, you are performing for a community. Churches bring local communities together and to worship the word of God. When I was on my way out of a mass, I was stopped by two ladies who enjoyed the performance of all of the musicians participating. They asked for a business card in case they heard of any openings for gigs across the Boston area. This is where networking comes in and why interacting with the community is important to advertise your artistry.
Reputation – Yes, status is significant in chances of being hired again. I remember a story when a musician was nominated for a simple church service. He was unprepared since he believed church music was substandard. He also vocalized his criticism towards the musicians and the music director. After the performance, he was fired. He said “Well, it was just a sham and mediocre gig, so it won’t affect my performance career.” Well, he thought wrong. Music directors know almost every musician around the community, and what you are will ripple through a network that may lessen your chances of being hired for a simple gig. Always be prepared and act like a professional.
For the past three years, I have learned that it’s not all about worshiping a higher power, its about worshiping your art and inspiring the community of what you believe in and what church goers believe in. Faith can be factored into religion and music. People are looking for a sense of beauty and a place to heal. Our jobs as musicians is to make our audiences forget their hectic lives and have them travel into their minds of a place where they are content. Filling people in awe of music and faith is an important mission that musicians are responsible for. Inspire others to believe in faith and the power of music.