Table of Contents  (there would be public-submitted articles (reviewed by "editors") for each topic)


CMH will be accepting articles to include in the repository late summer 2014.
Please email your interest for participating in this exciting project!


Foreword by Will Sherwood, ChM, AAGO

I have long appreciated being the beneficiary of kind and forthcoming mentors, coaches, and colleagues in my music career. Useful tips emerge from all sorts of discussions, casual or professional. In the "olden days" one would write a book about how to do this or that in order to pass down the wisdom of contemporaries, discoveries, and especially elders/sensei. But alas, we're in the internet age of social media and online-everything.  So, why not a Guide for Church Musicians, implemented in a Wikipedia-style handbook where all can be international authors?!

This idea has been brewing for quite a number of years, and when the media wiki toolset emerged, the time was right.  Please join us in an encyclopedia-style knowledgebase accumulation of our collective skills, strategies, and tips.  This is not a discussion forum, but a topic-organized description of each idea/technique/concept.  Musicians, attacca !

About "Wiki" Web Sites

Meaning "fast" in Hawaiian, WIKI ( /ˈwɪki/ WIK-ee) has come to represent the latest in collaborative web content authoring. Although initially a Geek-only term, Wiki sites have grown in popularity, perhaps at a slower pace than Blogs. The most famous Wiki site is Wikipedia, which is a humankind knowledgebase (i.e., everything about everything) written by anyone/everyone.  In fact, the best definition and detailed history/description of wikis is described, where else, here in Wikipedia. Anything underscored is a clickable link that will take you to more information or examples of the topic being discussed.

For the Church Music Handbook, the following information about wikis is applicable:

A wiki enables documents to be written collaboratively, in a simple markup language using a web browser.  A single page in a wiki website is referred to as a "wiki page", while the entire collection of pages, which are usually well interconnected by hyperlinks, is "the wiki".  A wiki is essentially a database for creating, browsing, and searching through information.

A defining characteristic of wiki technology is the ease with which pages can be created and updated. Generally, there is no review before modifications are accepted.  Editors (or other readers) will notice that there are changes, and thus have the opportunity to massage typos or request clarifications or delete spam or anything inappropriate.

Entries (articles) contain useful "persistent" information that is of a permanent knowledge nature, as opposed to calendar information or current news events.

A related article that exists in Wikipedia for example is the entry for the American Guild of Organists.

The Church Musician Handbook Wiki uses the standard WikiMedia platform, with hosting donated by

Goal of Site: Provide an WikiPedia-like Operations Manual type of Handbook for the Church Musician, covering the MANY roles of Choir Director, Organist.  It is intended to be of broad-based usefulness regardless of religious affiliations, and explicitly avoids discussions of religion, or topics of commercial advertisements-- these topics/posts will be deleted.

In the true spirit of an encyclopaedia, this wiki is meant to present information organized by topic (and not by chronological order of entry (as blogs and forums do), and not by author). Each topic is intended to be self-contained (stand-alone) in terms of context - i.e., understandable if reading is begun just with that topic, and is meant to be clearly written, replete with references and links if applicable.  It is assumed that the level of reader would have basic understanding of general church music, instruments, and common musical terminology.  References are encouraged where possible to back-up where the author's information came from.  In many cases, the author's experience and experience-based opinions are the source of the information, and can be briefly acknowledged.

Organization of Table of Contents - The contents will have a "backbone" hierarchy structure to house all the information.  Note that this is not all that critical, since most of the access and browsing of the wiki will be done via searches (and search engines). Many topics could be successfully placed in more than one category-- the beauty of web sites and wikis is that topics can easily be cross-referenced (linked) without having to duplicate the content in multiple categories.  The general categorization below demonstrates the scope and depth of the overall site. Each topic begins as a "stub" (an empty category) that is filled in and edited.  Where no content is yet provided, short brainstorming phrases are included to describe the initial intention.



Musician Contract-Samples-Responsibilities-Scope of Job


                Clever donation techniques ("sell" a rank, sell a pipe, sell a pew/seat)

                Wishlist donations web page (and brochure handout)

Donated Instruments and scores - how to deal with


Music Program Strategy/Goals/Mission Statement


    How to create

    How to align with overall church organization goals

Church Year & Service planning

    Lectionary or Liturgy-based

    Free-form (based on minister's calendar or not)

Music Program's Web Site

    Separate Site from main church site? (Pros & Cons)

    How Extensive?  Sample Nav menus

    Published "wishlist" of wanted donations (items, funding for purchases)

Concert Series

Weddings!  (the term "bride" is loosely used to refer to one of the people being married or unioned)

        Presenting your repertoire to brides for their selection (example Wedding Music Advisor)

        Terms of Service (i.e., contract with the bride)

        Cues (processional, recessional, etc.)

        Brides who are late and delay the start of the ceremony

        Church Rules/constraints
War Stories - A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Processional


Choir membership


    Publicizing; Sources of new members;  Long-term development of program to be attractive

    Invitation "kits"

    Auditions or not?

    Dealing with problem members:  behavioral, crushes/vicarious, poor voice quality, bad attendance, dysfunctional

Choir (adult) section leaders/soloists (paid)

    Contracts, responsibilities/expectations (example contract)





    Rules - on time, talking


    Length & frequency

    Warm-up prior to services/performances

    "Rehearsal Tapes"  (online midi, mp3;  mp3 players;  ChoirOla(ChoirRadio)  )


    Use of Catchphrases

Curation of Instruments

                Organ upkeep, tuning, restoration




                How to fund?


Music Library - see Music Scores

Computer & Web Application Tools for the Church Musician

    Use of MIDI: organ/instruments; choir teaching/rehearsing;  the absentee service musician; remote organ console; second organ console (duets); additional organ voices played from console but rendered in a synthesizer

    Use of MP3s

    Tools: Wedding Music Advisor; Online Rollbook; Online service repertoire calendar; Online choral library acquisitions inventory

Publishing Recordings: Videos/Web&PDA Media/CDs/DVDs (of choir, church musicians, church instruments) - for sale/fundraiser

    The Making of a CD  

    Fundraising Using CD,DVD, online MP3 sales

Recording (audio, video) of church services



    Volunteer operators

    Copyright considerations

    Musician permission

Offices/ facilities

    Choir rehearsal area

    Director Office

    Choral Library (anthem filing cabinets; oratorio shelving; orchestra/accpt scores, organ music library)



    Instrument storage (percussion, handbells, etc.)

Care of Instruments, Console Etiquette
    Treatment (Rules) of Instruments
    Conducting yourself at the console




Time & Task management for the director

                Goals, strategies


                Know how to match your skills/energies with the tasks and time of day/week

Networking with colleagues

Continuing ed




    Teaching & consulting  AS  learning

    Teaching & consulting as sharing & propagating good music to others and future generations


    Informal networking (ex: swapping notes w.r.t. compositions, performance practice, etc.)

Organ Repertoire, Practice

Concertizing outside the church (separate concert career)

“Care and Feeding” of Volunteers




Psychology of Dealing with People (Staff, volunteers, paid musicians)          






From Improvisation to Composed Music Score - tips on making the process more human-friendly

Tips on marking keyboard scores

Tips for marking director's choral (and full) scores

Music Library




                                Database/Spreadsheet/Indexing/Cataloguing (& MP3 archive)

                                Librarian & music return logistics

                                Numbering music and numbering choristers

                Orchestral/instrumental accpts

                Organ/personal library

                Purchasing music scores (resources): discount list; online delivery; "consumer reports" ratings;  list of free (out of copyright) old masters PDFs and MIDIs

                Free score resources:  Organ     Choral    X-tet(2-16 singers)    Solo   Instrumental    Handbells


    Training choirs
    Teaching your choristers
    Intern/scholar programs
    Encouraging youth to pursue music studies


    Forums, Listservs, BBoards, Blogs, Usenet, SocialMedia Groups/Categories, etc. (ex: )


    Online media (YouTube, presentations/tutorials)

    Professional organizations





CMH will be accepting articles to include in the repository late summer 2014.
Please email your interest for participating in this exciting project!