Thursday, 20 December 2012

Merry Christmas and Keeping Church Music Records . . .

A very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in 2013 to all Australian Church musicians, families and friends!

My Australian Church music blog has been neglected lately, due to heavy family commitments, but I'm now back on track for Christmas and the New Year. Best wishes to my RSCM colleagues, who are currently preparing for the RSCM International Summer School in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Most Australian Church music directors keep meticulous Choir and music ministry records, including a current list of Choir members, an attendance roll, and copyright license files. Keeping Church music ministry records (sometimes in the public press) was part of Australia's Church tradition in the 18th to 20th centuries of European settlement. If you are in doubt about this, have a look at the National Library of Australia's records on its digitised historical newspaper database, Trove. Try searching "Church choir". You'll find a treasure house of Australian Church music history in those pages, kept by keen journalists who valued their Christian communities and their music, and were careful to record all social and musical events faithfully (although their accounts were not always without bias, and their music repertoire was far from inclusive).

There is no doubt that the history of a local Church's music ministry adds colour and personality to its overall history. Music ministry records, which are part of each Church community's history, should be lodged with your Church archives each year. Photographs, newsletter notices, and annual articles acknowledging the work of volunteer (as well as professional) music ministers, organists, visiting musicians and concert series, social events and administrative assistants, supportive clergy, choir friends and family, and retiring choristers, should all be part of this community-building record. Official Church historians will, of course, place their own slant on local Church music ministry history, but future researchers will thank Churches or private collectors who keep accurate and complete local Church music archives.

If your Church music ministry thanks and promotes its musicians and helpers adequately, it will never have any trouble attracting and keeping well-disciplined choristers, musicians, assistants and supporters.
There is actually much more to running a Church choir than singing or playing well.

Best wishes for continuing successful Church music ministry in 2013,

Elizabeth Sheppard.

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