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Church Music Administration

This course was shaped to mirror the way that a music minister experiences his or her involvement with the church, from searching for a job to the nuts and bolts of the ministry to leaving a position. Each step along the way the students completed projects that dealt with a different area of ministry.

Course Syllabus

This is a music ministry course for which there is no ideal textbook (though I would look seriously at From Postlude to Prelude: Music Ministry’s Other Six Days by Randall Bradley if I were to teach the class in the future). Instead, I shaped the course in the same way that the music minister experiences his or her involvement with the church, from searching for a job to the nuts and bolts of the ministry to leaving a position. Each step along the way the students completed projects that dealt with a different area of ministry. I’ve found that this approach prepares students to tackle the day-to-day tasks of music ministry.

The most positive aspect of the course has been the pairing of students with music ministry mentors. Each student is matched with a local music minister who is available to them for interviews, project help and observations. This gives the students a closer look at a music ministry other than their home church’s before they start their senior practicum, and it triggers discussion on differences in ministries during class. The students observe everything from large churches with multiple ensembles to small churches run by volunteers. They don’t always like what they see, but it helps them begin to form their own ideas of how a music ministry should be administered.

Textbook:                       Causey, Harry. Things They Didn’t Tell Me About Being a Minister of Music. Rockville, MD: Music Revelation, 1988.

Notes:                            Each student will be paired with a local music minister for the semester. These music ministers will help you with projects throughout the class.


  1. Introduction & Searching for Ministry Openings
    Are you called to music ministry?
    Searching for music ministry openings
    Types of positions
    Where to search
  2. Applying for a Position (Bill Minnick, director of career development)
    Letter of inquiry, cover letter, resume, statement of faith
    Interview (Phone, Committee visits you, you visit church)
    Due: Project 1 • Find a Job
  3. Salary and Contract
    Salary Ranges
    Why you need to have a written contract
    Weddings, funerals, lessons, etc
    Chapter 2: Time and Money
    Due: Project 2 • Apply to a Job
  4. Beginning a New Ministry
    Assess the past
    Assess resources
    Make a good first impression
  5. Church Politics
    Staff/pastor relations (and meetings)
    Chapter 1: Church Politics
    Due: Project 3 • “New Ministry” Assessment
  6. Interpersonal Relations (Bill Minnick)
    Chapter 4: Interpersonal Relations
    Chapter 9: Personality
    Due: Project 4 • Meyers-Briggs
  7. Budget and Finances
    Chapter 3: Finances
  8. Administration & Communication
    Music mentoring and ensemble structure
    Official channels: worship committee, elders, etc
    Publish or perish (music news, church newsletter, and bulletin)
    Chapter 8: Administration/Organization
    Due: Project 5 • Budget and Reporting
  9. Choir Repertoire and Library
    Library organization
    Due: Project 6 • Press release, bulletin/newsletter, and music news
  10. Running Rehearsals
    Rehearsals; Retreats
    Chapter 10: Discipline
  11. Special Ensembles
    Children’s and youth choirs, handbell, instrumental, and special music
    Due: Project 7 • The Trusted 20
  12. Productions & Special Services
    Weddings, funerals, concerts, sacraments
    Christmas, Easter, and other “productions”
    Chapter 5 Production
  13. Resources & Legal Issues
    Professional organizations, conferences
    Resources; important denominational and reference books
    CCLI, Copyright, etc
    Chapter 2: Time and Ministry; Chapter 6: Bible Study; Chapter 7: Maintenance and Repair
    Due: Project 8 • Observe a Rehearsal
  14. Leaving a Ministry
  15. TBA
    Due: Project 9 • Resources for Special Ensembles


PROJECT 1: Find a Job

  1. Assess your strengths and weaknesses as a music minister.
  2. What type of job are you looking for?
    (Full-time/Part-time? Area of country? Worship Style? etc)
  3. Find 7-10 positions for which you’d like to apply. Discuss your reasons for choosing them.

PROJECT 2: Apply to a Job

Choose the best job from Project 1 and “apply” to it. Submit a letter of inquiry, cover letter/resume, and statement of faith. If you are not a senior, include experiences you expect to have by the time you graduate. By the way, this is a good time to assess your skills and experiences—if you are weak in an area, find a way to improve it before your first job hunt.

PROJECT 3: “New Ministry” Assessment

Prepare a report about your mentor’s music ministry as if it’s your new job. Interview them about about the ministry (i.e. assessing the past) and assess resources such as choir library and sound system. You don’t have to produce a catalog of anthems, etc, but you should answer questions like “how many?” and “what type?” (i.e. traditional, contemporary, etc).

PROJECT 4: Meyers-Briggs

Set up an appointment with Bill Minnick in the RSC to take a Meyers-Briggs test. Make sure you leave enough time before his visit on 10/3 for him to calculate the results.

PROJECT 5: Budget and Reporting

Interview your mentor regarding their music budget and the method of reporting they are required to use. Are they responsible for preparing a budget? How much is it? How much is it in comparison to the church’s yearly budget? Who approves it? Where do they order items? How do they request a check to pay for items?

PROJECT 6: Press release, bulletin/newsletter, and music news

Find something to advertise—for instance, a choir tour you’re taking part in or a church worship team visit to a local church. Produce materials to promote the event within your group, your church and the community. The press release should be ready to go to a local newspaper to create excitement about the event within the community, the bulletin/newsletter article is to inform church members about the event, and the music news will go to your own ensemble and should answer specific questions about time and dress as well as to boost enthusiasm for the event.

PROJECT 7: The Trusted 20

This is a big project so you may want to get started early. Each student will find at least 20 choral anthems that will be your beginning repertoire for work in a church. These should be anthems that you have sung or heard, and that you know will work in a volunteer church choir. Prepare a paragraph review of each anthem detailing the text focus, difficulty level, music style, any unusual instrumentation issues, etc. The lists will be compiled into a master list to be shared with the class.

PROJECT 8: Observe a Rehearsal

Attend one or more of your mentor’s rehearsals (preferably choir). Outline the events of the rehearsal, observe how your mentor paces the learning, how he or she deals with musical difficulties or discipline problems, and how quickly people learn the material. Later, evaluate your mentor’s strengths and weaknesses as a director.

PROJECT 9: Resources for Special Ensembles

Interview your mentor to learn their favorite resources for children’s, youth, and handbell choirs; wedding, funerals, instrumental and special music; and Easter or Christmas productions. They may not be experts in all these areas, but they will probably have some gems that they come back to again and again. Each student will find at least 10 resources and contribute their list to a master class list.