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The Left Menu

The Left Menu

One other piece of the whole thing you should begin to get used to is the menu bar on the left. The most important thing you’ll need over there, aside from the Media tab I showed you in the Featured Image post, is the “posts” item (with the thumbtack). If you click on “all posts,” it will show you everything on all the various pages, including unfinished “drafts” (You can do this too–create a post and “save draft,” without publishing it yet.)

If you want to see just your own, look at the top of the page and you’ll see some choices of filters. Go to “all categories,” and then use the dropdown to change it to “blog: keyboard to keyboard” and then click “filter.” Then it will only show you your own.

What’s important here too–if you ever create a post and forget to categorize it, here is where you’ll find it! You can go back to “all categories” and pore through that, or just filter for “uncategorized,” and you’ll be able to locate it.

Here’s a video of that too if it helps:

Most of the rest of what is over there you can ignore. The Posts menu and the Media Library are important, but not much else. Comments are always filtered, and we get a lot of spam, and I go in regularly to get rid of as much spam as I can. If you see a specific comment that you want to approve, you can do that, but I try to stay on it pretty well, and if the comment looks and sounds like a real person and not a bot, I’ll generally let it through.

Everything else I don’t touch–that’s Jim and Paul’s (our IT guy) domain. 🙂

Setting a Featured Image

Setting a Featured Image

Part of the way we have this site laid out sort of demands a “featured image” for each post–a sort of header thing for every blog entry that in some way relates to what it’s about.

Since we’re dealing in publication here, the copyright of the image does begin to matter. You may have a pile of jpg images from your work, pictures you’ve taken of organs or keyboards or whatever (or you could in the next few weeks take your phone/camera to different instruments and catch different shots of them–something I’d recommend actually!)–these are ideal, since they’d be yours (or Jim’s) and no issues with their use. If you have friends and colleagues with photos to share that’s great too; we usually just give them a little photo credit at the bottom of the post.

There are also a lot of sites where you can get free stock photography, something I pretty much depend on these days. The best ones IMO are,, and, but a google search for “best free stock photos” will give you a lot of options. You can download photos for free from these.

Here’s a super-quick video of how it works (It would be quicker if my computer weren’t so slow):

Broken down, here’s what happens (I had already uploaded the photo I wanted to use for this header, so I just did an additional random upload to show you how that works, which you probably didn’t even need):

Go to the “document” menu in the right hand sidebar. (Again, if you don’t see it, click the little “gear” icon above, next to “publish.”) Scroll down till you see “Set featured image.”

If you click on this, it will take you to the “media library,” where you can upload a new photo or choose one you already have up there. (You should edit your photos to the size you want before you do this, though.)

By the way, regarding the Media Library–you can also get to that on the left-hand menu bar any time. You can add a bunch of photos at once if you want, independently of writing a post, just to have ’em up there. Click the “upload” tab and you can go crazy. :-)) Note though that if you are mid-post when you want to do this, make sure you click “save draft” before you leave what you’ve typed, or you’ll lose it. The site should warn you that you’re trying to leave without saving, so you’ll want to watch out for that.

Re sizing the photos: Header photos honestly don’t have to be too specifically sized, but Jim will want me to give you this information about their proper dimensional proportions–Dimensions should be something like the following (in multiples going up to bigger photos)–essentially, a little less than twice as wide as they are high:
795 X 448
1590 x 896
3180 x 1792
3975 x 2240
4770 x 2688

The reality is that if you have something more or less the right rectangular shape, and it’s not too specific, you’ll be fine; you only need to mess with these dimensions if you run into stuff that looks funny once it’s up there.

Once you’ve got a post and a featured image, you’ll want to click “preview” to the top right, and it will take you to a new page so you can see what it will look like.

Then you can schedule your post, or just publish it, or whatever.

I think that’s it for now! Let me know if you have any questions; otherwise, have fun playing!

Creating a Post on WordPress

Creating a Post on WordPress

It’s pretty easy and fairly intuitive, actually, once you get past all the VAST amounts of data they feel compelled to plop all over your page, and figure out what to show and where the stuff you need is.

I made a little video of the process if you’re that kind of learner (and it was fun for me to learn how to do a screen video–but sorry I type so slowly)…but in a nutshell:

First, make sure you’ve created your new account and can access the “admin” bar…the site you’ll log into will be something like Then you’ll click “new” at the top, then dropdown to “post” and off you go.

They have this new system called “blocks” instead of normal word processing; it apparently has something to do with viewing the site on a mobile device. If you look to the top right of the page, you might see a sidebar down the side…if you don’t see it, click on the “settings” gear icon thing in the upper right, and it should appear.

It gives you two choices: Document and Block. Block is the one you see whenever you type, and Document is the one that gives you control over pretty much anything else.

If you click “Document” you can scroll down to “categories.” For you, you’ll want to always check both “blog” and “blog: Keyboard to Keyboard”–that’s how the site knows to send that post to YOUR page. (All of mine have the “ministering through music” category tagged, so they go to mine.)

That’s the basic gist of it…I’ll add more as we go, since Jim would like to have a few posts already up there before we send it to you so you’ll get a sense of what it’s going to look like.

Welcome to your new blog, Marilyn!

Welcome to your new blog, Marilyn!

Hi Marilyn! I’m going to just generate a few posts on your new site for you, so you can get a sense of what this will look like as you keep building it. And rather than go the lorem ipso route, I’ll use them to kind of explain how the whole blog site thing works. Once we go actually live, you’ll want to delete (or at least unpublish) these posts of mine, but for the moment they can be placeholders.

If you’re reading this, it’s probably either because you clicked on the link in an email I sent you (which means you can just look at this but not do anything with it), or because Jim sent you an invitation to the blog and you clicked it and maybe created your account (which means you can get into the innards of the thing and start playing with it). So that’s probably your first step, once you get that email, and we can go from there.

Welcome on board! Have fun!


First Communion Liturgies, Part I: Mission and Vision

First Communion Liturgies, Part I: Mission and Vision

When my daughter was born in early May about 14 years ago, I remember a brief moment of feeling a little luxurious that I suddenly, for the first time in decades, found myself not at church on that first Saturday in May. (It was a very small feeling of luxury; on that first Saturday in May had probably not gotten more than an hour of sleep at a stretch in days, and if you’ve never done it, let me make you aware that those first days and weeks after childbirth are no walk in the park for the human body. I’m not sure I could have gone for a walk in the park at that point anyway.) Of course, it was not long before I realized that this also meant that every year on the Saturday nearest my daughter’s birthday I would be spending a large amount of the day at church—celebrating multiple First Communion services, rather than staying home making pancakes or going on day trips to fun places or planning elaborate birthday parties at home.

(Birthday parties at home with a bunch of small children—also not a walk in the park, in case you were wondering.)

Even so, First Communion season is a part of my work as a music minister that I really enjoy. The joy, the festivity, the bright shining faces, the pride and teary eyes of the parents—it’s a beautiful thing.

Still…like all of our work and ministry, our shaping of these liturgies will enable them to be stronger and more effective if we are able to step back a little from time to time, try to shed our assumptions, and see what’s really happening. If we remember to peel back the layers of “we’ve always done it this way” and see what of those “always” things are helpful and life-giving, and whether perhaps some of them are in some way hindering the larger vision and mission.

And what is that larger vision and mission?

We are here to form disciples.

I’m going to say that again: Our mission is to form disciples. Our vision must focus on forming disciples.

At least, we hope that’s the vision and mission. If it doesn’t boil down in some way to this, then I’m not sure what we’re about. If we do not keep that in mind, at the forefront of our ministry and catechesis and planning and prayer and music, then we lose the heart of what we are there for.

I would submit that, where First Communion is concerned, we may sometimes lose sight of that mission and vision, perhaps replacing it with one that looks more like “to give the children a special day they will never forget.” Peeling back more layers, we may come to, “to give the children and their families a day they will never forget,” or even “to give the children and their families a day like the one their parents remember, that they will never forget just like their parents remember theirs.”

This is a perilous direction to go in. Not that we don’t want to make this day special and wonderful, and never to be forgotten, for children and adults alike, but that cannot be the core value we hold when we plan and prepare for the liturgies of this day.

For example, let’s look at the process of music selection for liturgies where First Communion is celebrated. Many places where I have ministered and worshiped have the tendency to select for this liturgy music drawn primarily from the school and religious education programs—essentially, music written expressly for small children. It’s an understandable choice, especially from the “make this a special day” perspective, to choose music that speaks expressly to those who are the focus of the day…

Except that the children are not the focus of the First Communion liturgy. Jesus is the focus, the Body of Christ is the focus, the children taking their place at the table is the focus.

Choose music from the parish repertoire, music they will hear on Sunday when they come back to church. Choose music they will connect with the wider community, and with their place in it in the years to come. Choose the music they have sung or heard sung during the Communion procession since they were old enough to hum along with familiar tunes even before they could read, and when the hymnal was too heavy to hold. Choose music their parents can sing with them, music their families visiting from other churches are likely to know as well, so that the sound of the adults’ voices around them can surround them with love and warmth and welcome.

This does not mean, of course, being oblivious in the planning process that this liturgy will have large numbers of children present and taking part, as well as guests and family members who may or may not all be active and practicing Catholics. This would not be a time when I would program “Lord, you give the great commission” or other of the wonderful but wordier strophic hymns that form such a rich part of our musical heritage. I would suggest looking to music with fairly contained tessitura and range, and leaning to more refrain-based songs and hymns. I can tell you that my own kids rarely went around the house during the week singing songs from their catechetical programs, but the regular songs from the Sunday liturgy would be discernable under their breath fairly frequently.

Remember too that this intermingled repertoire can work both ways. If there is a favorite song that has been used at First Communion for many years, even if it may be a little more child-like than the Sunday community would normally sing, consider using it on a few Sundays during the year in the months leading up to the First Communion celebration.

Obviously this whole line of reasoning is heading right back to that topic dearest to my heart, which I espouse over and over again whenever I have the opportunity: Plan your year’s liturgical music early, look at the year as a whole, and know what’s coming up.

It’s all connected.

(Part 2 of this series will look at some specific strategies and repertoire ideas…because no matter how well you plan, getting the assembly at First Communion liturgies can be a challenge…)

Tell the Whole Community of Music Ministers…

Tell the Whole Community of Music Ministers…

(I have posted this every year on Facebook for probably a decade, and I figured, this year I have a blog! So what better place? We all need a little levity, this week of all weeks…)

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt:

Tell the whole community of music ministers: On the night of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, with no time to cook, you must procure for your family a pizza, one per household unless you eat a lot in which case you might want two. You shall not order pepperoni, lest it give you heartburn during the Mandatum, or garlic, lest it offend your neighbor in ministry.

If a family is too small for a whole pizza, you shall stop at the drive-through for a burger in the evening twilight. This is how you are to eat it: with your vestments or professional blacks on, organ shoes on your feet and your baton in hand; you shall eat like those who are in flight.

It is the Passover of the LORD.

(Peace to all, and blessings for a grace-filled Triduum!)

Night Prayer (Sing Amen! the Podcast: Episode 17)

Night Prayer (Sing Amen! the Podcast: Episode 17)

Holy Week is upon us. I figured that at this precise moment in our musical lives no one listening here is looking particularly for new repertoire or deep thoughts or formational development—we are looking to get through the week with beauty and prayerfulness, we are creating folders and scripts and parts for the trumpet players and preparing for a level of intensity that is unlike anything else we do all year.

So instead…here is a calm, lovely Night Prayer service to listen to on your way home from rehearsals this week, or to help quiet down a busy brain after a long day. It’s from Ian Callanan’s collection As Nighttime Falls, a series of 15-20 minute Compline services for each day of the week. These are good for either individual prayer and listening in solitude, or communal or retreat type settings; if you like this, I’d encourage checking out the whole set, available in both audio and music collection form and with an assembly edition as well…

So—all prayers and good wishes to all of us out there this coming week! May you be blessed with choirs who show up on time, cantors who avoid illness, organs that never cipher, string instruments that hold their tune, staff meetings without stress, assemblies with open hearts and joyful spirits, and families who understand when you doze off over Easter dinner. Peace be with you!

Music heard in today’s podcast: from As Nighttime Falls: Hymns, Psalms and Prayers to End the Day, CD-1038 (Sunday Night Prayer)

1          Call to Prayer

2          As Nighttime Falls

3          Be with Me, Lord

4          Word of God

5          Short Responsory

6          Save Us, Lord / Let Your Servant Go / Save Us, Lord

7          Prayer

8          Blessing

9          Hail, Holy Queen


Sing Amen! the Podcast, with Jennifer Kerr Budziak
Sound by Jim Bogdanich

Sing Amen! opening music: Promenade, by Bob Moore (from Let Every Instrument Be Tuned for Praise, CD-491, from Liturgical Suite #4, G-4789 Â©GIA Publications, Inc).
Sing Amen! closing music: Amen, (from More Sublime Chant, CD-459, The Cathedral Singers, Richard Proulx, conductor. ©GIA Publications, Inc.)

What’s in Your “Go-Bag”?

What’s in Your “Go-Bag”?

Some musicians get to happily stay in one place pretty much all the time, and your home parish is your main place of work. But sometimes you may get asked to play or sing a wedding or funeral somewhere else, down the block or across town. What do you bring?

This question caught me up more than once during my years of full time ministry in one parish, but once I joined the ranks of the traveling subs and “visiting” musicians, I’ve been forced not only to re-think the question but to actually answer it. It’s like packing clothes for an NPM convention; the first couple of times you don’t know what you’re going to need, and then after a while you catch on and it’s second nature. (In case you were wondering, re NPM: At least 2 pairs of really comfy shoes, respectable-but-not-formal layered clothing that lets you not wither in outdoor heat nor shiver in a freezing ballroom, and a good wheeled bag with enough empty space in it to put the inevitable too many books/music you acquire while you’re there. I can do 5 days in a small overnight bag and 1 backpack and still have room for my computer and cables.)

After not very long I stopped asking the question every time I needed to do it, and just gathered what I needed into one bag in the back of my car, so now I don’t even need to check or search or decide; it’s all there. In fact, a lot of regular “musician travelers” I know have something like a “go bag” stashed in the back of their car or coat closet somewhere, packed and ready to go so they don’t need to overthink the process when it’s time to head out to a new place to make music. Here’s what’s in mine (bear in mind that I tend to drive places; if you’re on public transit, you’ll want to slim this down as much as you can):

1. Organ shoes, broken in and comfortable (for women: 1 pair organ shoes, 1 pair clean black flats)

I live in the Chicago area. And often I have to schlep through snow and ice and other grossness to get to my jobs. So knowing I have a pair of organ shoes and a respectable pair of “ordinary” shoes right there in the back of the car at all times has been a life-saver more times than I can count. (And that’s not counting the time I left the house in brown shoes, forgetting that I wouldn’t get back home before a choral concert that evening.)

2. 1 black concert binder, or 1 black concert folder + 1 plain black binder

This is less about music itself than having something respectable looking to hold it in, especially if you are singing. You don’t want to be juggling stuff or God forbid standing up somewhere with a photocopied sheet in your hand. I have a good black concert folder that has three rings in it, which is fantastic; I also have a thin and lightweight concert folder for when I don’t feel like lugging the bigger one around. (I have also had occasion to loan these to cantors or singers who would otherwise have been wandering up to an ambo with a couple of photocopies in their hand.) (Y’all. Don’t be this singer.)

3. my iPad/Hymnal app/ForScore app

Especially if I will be working someplace I know has wireless access, but even if not—this has saved my caboose more than once as well. I can put an entire hymnal of accompaniment onto my iPad, I can download pdfs I’ve legally purchased, and if I’m looking for a classical-type work published before the 20th century, probably has it for easy and quick download. (It’s worth paying the annual membership for quick access. And it’s an extremely worthy cause.) While I get a little itchy about only having the electronic option to play from, I now pretty much always bring it. (Er…this one does not live in my go bag in the car, it goes with me into the house.)  Chargers and cables too, of course.

4. Before I had a tablet, this next one was on my list, but now not so much: My own personal set of accompaniment books for the denomination I was mostly working at.

In my case, usually this would be Catholic churches or organizations. If you know what specific resource the church you’re going to uses, and you have that, that’s obviously ideal…but those sets get a little pricey, so it’s good to have a set of your own. My primary set is the Gather Third Edition, which has covered most of my bases for years, but I also make sure to own a fairly recent hymnal accompaniment set from the other major publishers as well.

6. What I call my “Survival Binders”

I actually have 3 of these: First, if you don’t already have a binder with the Ave Maria in all 17 keys, the Panis Angelicus in all 12, the Mass of Creation, and a dozen or so of your favorite preludes and postludes (particularly ones that are easy to register on an organ I don’t know very well), I highly recommend your pulling one together. Second, one has my favorite prelude/postlude pieces for solo keyboard, intermixed with versions for keyboard and solo instrument (and the back of it has the solo instrument parts, so I can pull one out for the violinist at a moment’s notice); and the third one has alphabetical dividers and holds all the “one-off” pieces I’ve needed to do for various traveling liturgies.

7. One in Love and Peace (Bob Moore and Kelly Mickus)

This is the dream collection one-stop-shop for traveling wedding musicians, and it has in it pretty much every standard wedding processional or recessional I can think of. Plus each of the pieces it includes are there in arrangements for both piano and organ, with separate available instrumental parts for either C or B-flat instrument. This one’s a keeper.

8. Favorite books and collections I’ve been schlepping around for years or decades

You know, those volumes you’ve had since college with your favorite solo organ/piano works, the stuff you can pull out cold at a second’s notice and don’t even have to find the page because the book just falls open to it. I know I don’t really need these any more, and it would be easier to just put the favorites into a binder or onto my iPad, but I carry them anyway.

So that’s my list at least…I started out with a tote bag for all this, but over the years I’ve transferred into one of those clear portable file boxes with a handle on top. I also keep a zipper tote in the back of my car so I can pull out what I need and not carry the whole thing in with me if it’s not needed.

I asked my friends and colleagues on Facebook what was in their traveling kits, and I got a lot of the same answers—things like tablets, comfy-but-respectable shoes, Ave and Panis in multiple keys, and such came up again and again. As did things like water bottles, cough drops, multiple pencils, or extra pair of reading glasses for those of us who are at that point in our lives. Probably my favorite response had not thought of but definitely will in the future was a small portable battery operated music stand light and extra batteries—I expect most of us have had the experience of finding ourselves someplace where there just isn’t enough lighting, and this would be a handy addition…

Anyone else? What’s in your musician go-bag?

Of Womb and Tomb: a conversation with Kate Williams (Sing Amen! the Podcast: episode 16)

Of Womb and Tomb: a conversation with Kate Williams (Sing Amen! the Podcast: episode 16)

Today we have a conversation with Kate Williams, who compiled and edited the beautiful new resource Of Womb and Tomb: Prayer in time of Infertility, Miscarriage, and Stillbirth (G-9816).  The resource is made up of a book, a CD, and a music collection, and I’m pretty sure it’s the first collection of its kind—since it came off press not very long ago it has already been adopted by hospital chaplains, parishes, and individuals; it’s been featured on the Music Ministry Mondays podcast for NPM, and Kate will be speaking about it at the Los Angeles Religious Education Conference this week. In today’s podcast we will hear an interview with Kate that we did right after the book came out, interspersed with some readings from the book and some of the music from the collection.  (And the prayer we hear Kate read at the opening of the podcast was written by Melissa Carnall, and can be found in the book as well.)

Kate’s work to lift the veil of silence around a pain and grief that we have been culturally conditioned to not speak of, and to shift it out of being a “women’s issue” into a wider concern that affects many many people, both men and women, and to help us find a way as Church to walk through this pain together, and to minister to one another, is tremendously important, and I am so grateful to have had the chance to speak with her about it.


Music heard in today’s podcast:

The Silence and the Sorrow, Liam Lawton (G-5291)

As recorded on Ancient Ways, Future Days (CD-475)


In the Morning, In the Evening, Bex Gaunt (G-9873)

As recorded on Of Womb and Tomb (CD-1061)


And Jesus Said, Tony Alonso (G-7075)

As recorded on Songs from Another Room (CD-648)


SingAmen! the Podcast, with Jennifer Kerr Budziak
Sound by Jim Bogdanich

SingAmen! opening music: Promenade, by Bob Moore (from Let Every Instrument Be Tuned for Praise, CD-491, from Liturgical Suite #4, G-4789.. ©GIA Publications, Inc).
SingAmen! closing music: Amen, (from More Sublime Chant, CD-459, The Cathedral Singers, Richard Proulx, conductor. ©GIA Publications, Inc.)


Joseph Flummerfelt: Gifts from a Master Teacher

Joseph Flummerfelt: Gifts from a Master Teacher

I only got to work with Joe Flummerfelt once, for one incredible 45-minute segment of one rehearsal on one ordinary day. He was visiting my teacher, who had been a student of his, at  Northwestern University, and Dr. Nally had asked him to conduct a rehearsal of Brahms’ Schicksalslied (“Song of Destiny”) with us.

It was…incredible. I have sung for wonderful conductors before, but this was like nothing else I’d ever experienced. It was like a door somewhere inside him opened, and Brahms just sort of spilled out into the room and flowed all around us, or like he was the painter and we were the canvas and he was just splashing Brahms all over us—like we were not just the artists, but we were also the art itself.

(I also remember, with the part of my mind that stayed calm and rational and in the room, that he sang with us; not the actual vocal parts, but just sort of an under-the-breath vocalization of the sweeping lines he was conducting. It was a little distracting, to be honest—but it also was sort of lovely, and endearing, and it reminded me of Glenn Gould.)

Mostly what I remember was that it felt like magic, like all the mental and rational score study and stick and hand technique we spend our time as conductors focusing on was merely incidental, the box we build to hold the real art, the music and the line and the spirit and the love. And that the important part of what we did as conductors and educators and makers-of-music-with-others didn’t live in that rational world at all. I knew this already, but it was something I’d always felt a little sheepish about, or kept kind of quiet, because it felt like something we weren’t supposed to admit out loud. But here he was—out loud, witnessing it for all of us. I’ve never forgotten it.

Joseph Flummerfelt passed away last Friday night. Somehow this giant in the choral world isn’t as much of a household name among the rest of the musical community in general as I would have thought—like Robert Shaw, for example (who was Maestro Flummerfelt’s teacher), whose name is widely known. But “Flum,” as his students called him, had an amazing history and life. I don’t need to recap his accomplishments—those were not what made him extraordinary. (You can read about them here, though, in this tribute posted by Rider University and Westminster Choir College, or here, in his obituary in the New York Times.) Accomplishments are seldom what make any musician extraordinary. But those rare few whose magic is so great, whose ability to touch something indefinable and essential calls out to the rest of us, are like magnets, pulling us closer. And Joe was one of those magnets. The outpouring of memories from his students and colleagues in these days since we lost him makes that absolutely clear. He touched many lives, and he will continue to do so—that’s what master teachers do; they continue to touch us long after they are gone.

So why am I posting this here, on a blog that is supposed to be aimed at practical formation for pastoral musicians?

Most of those who know me know that while I have one foot planted firmly in the world of liturgical music and pastoral ministry, the other lives solidly in the arena of choral conducting and art music. This is probably connected to the fact that I tend to view music ministry less as being about directing a small choir singing for an audience of assembly members than about being the person directing the big choir made up of everyone in the room.  (Who needs an audience, right?) Maybe I just need the reminder, or want to say out loud, that while the nuts and bolts skills involved in music ministry are of course the key foundation of everything we do, whether as choral musicians or pianists or organists or cantors or whatever our medium of music-making might be, the real movement of the Spirit lies outside of what the skill set can accomplish, and that we as ministers are more than just craftspeople—we are still artists, we are still required to keep our hearts and spirits open and vulnerable and turned outward to the people we serve. Joe Flummerfelt knew this, and he saw his work as the work of holiness; he knew that his work in a concert hall or rehearsal room was no less sacred or worshipful than what happens in any church on Sundays, that the movement of the Spirit is everywhere, whether he phrased it in those terms or not.

Every year at Westminster Choir College, where Professor Flummerfelt conducted and taught for 33 years, one faculty member would give a “charge” to the new graduates at their commencement. A colleague and friend was gracious enough to share his charge to the graduates one year (I believe it is from 1983?) with me. I would like to quote a portion of it here:

“I think one of the great sicknesses of the human condition today is the extent to which we are estranged from ourselves, the extent to which we clamor after gurus of whatever ilk, be they TV preachers, political demagogues, paperback therapists, or the requisite name on the back side of our blue jeans, to tell us who we are, what to believe, what to think, indeed, even to tell us that we exist. Far too many of us look outside ourselves for our center, for our sense of being. And far too many of us are often fooled by the façade or by the label, and believe a thing is what it looks like or what it is called rather than being able to perceive what it is. Lacking connection with our own centers, we lack the capacity to penetrate to the center of that which is about us. Even in our own profession, we are often lured by virtuosity for its own sake, which, though dazzling in appearance, is in fact full of sound and fury and signifies nothing because it springs from no central human or spiritual impulse…Touching center is not an easy thing. But if we believe that it exists, if we believe that the Holy Spirit does dwell within as well as without, if we learn to nurture calm, to be still, so that we can hear the voices within, if we are willing to risk stripping away all of the protective layers with which we have separated ourselves from our core, then the inside and the outside can become one. Then creativity can flow, then the gift of intuition is freed and we are able to see the unity of things, feel the impulse of things…As we grow in love for and acceptance of the life within us, we will become ever more in tune with and resonators for the life about us. We become instruments of the Holy Spirit, and the music we make touches the hearers at their own center and the people with whom we work are helped to connect with the source within themselves.  For me that is our calling, as human beings and as musicians. And if we accept that charge, then the glory of God will be ever more manifest in the lives we lead and the music we make.”

–Joseph Flummerfelt

Next blog post I will go back to the more “normal” stuff of liturgical and musical formation. But for this moment, at the beginning of this Lenten season of renewal, this challenge to artists from an artist is one I challenge all of us to carry with us.

Peace be with you, Maestro. Eternal rest grant to him, Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.


Header Photo by Carol L. Jenkins
Photo by Steven Ryan