All posts tagged: leadership

Accompanying Fellow Disciples

In my years of studying piano, nothing was more fear and nausea inducing than the prospect of performing a solo recital. Being out there on a stage, alone, no sheet music to fall back on, everyone watching, listening for mistakes. On the whole, of course, the experience of performing solo recitals was valuable and formative, but I’m still thankful that those days seem to be behind me. These days, my time at the piano is almost entirely spent in accompanying, and most of this accompanying takes place within a liturgical context. It’s no less of a performance, but it’s a different kind of performance. It’s an interesting verb, accompany, particularly when considered in a musical context. Often in the classical music world, accompanists are (wrongly) perceived as second-class citizens, or at the very least, they are perceived as subordinates to the solo singer or instrumentalist. Accompanists are to be heard and not seen (think about a hidden pit orchestra for a musical or opera); they are not to draw attention to themselves; they are to follow the …

An Invitation to Lead: Women in Lay Ministry

There is an extra spring in my step this morning knowing that today has been reserved, indeed set apart, to spend with both some of the youngest and oldest members of this parish community. After opening prayers they bound forward, from the left and right, towards the bright red book of the Gospels that I am holding and head to the lower church for children’s liturgy. This is indeed their community, one that the over 50 gathered have come to joyously participate in. With hands held together, in lieu of uncomfortable boredom, there are instead small voices raised and petitions uttered as the prayers of the faithful are spoken. Pausing momentarily, in the back of the sacristy after Mass, I am instantly reminded to thank the altar servers whom I personally helped train and scheduled to serve that day. A hoped-for beginning to a life of service and love, their gift can easily go unnoticed. Many of these altar servers (a large percentage of which are girls), I have seen “graduate” on to Eucharistic ministry, …

Called to Serve, Called to Lead

On a recent weekend I was called to fill in as cantor at a local parish. I arrived about twenty minutes before Mass, got the list of music from the organist, asked clarifying questions about the community’s worship style, met the priest, confirmed how to pronounce his name when I announced him, answered his questions about what parts of the Mass would be sung, and took my place at the front of the assembly. A few of the songs were unfamiliar to me, and I silently thanked my college sight-singing professor as I balanced reading the notes and words with making occasional eye contact with the assembly and raising my hand to encourage singing at the beginning of each verse. This particular congregation didn’t need much guidance; they were obviously used to singing, so I backed off from the microphone a bit and let them hear their own voices rather than mine. A few of the songs were quite familiar, the same as those I had sung with my students at a prayer service earlier …