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#1159033 - 03/07/09 12:53 PM How To Get A Job as Keyboard Player in Churches
nitekatt2008z Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/08
Posts: 552
I wanted to get some info from anyone here who might have a job playing contemporary/gospel styles for churches. Where do you find these jobs and what songs are standards in church? I know When The Saints Go Marching In and Amazing Grace, but Christian music in the modern sense has become much more arranged and complex.

If anyone could respond on what it takes to get a keyboard player job in churches, please let us know on how and what to prepare for an audition.

Thanks katt

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#1159127 - 03/07/09 04:38 PM Re: How To Get A Job as Keyboard Player in Churches [Re: nitekatt2008z]
Pianos_N_Cheezecake Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/07
Posts: 150
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Can you be a little more clear on what you are looking for? Jobs like these are usually on a volunteer basis and are made up of people who are aleady members of the church. There ARE jobs, but only as an organist or an accompanying pianist in liturgical style church. As far as the style goes, that really depends on what church you are playing in. Audition pieces would need to be some sort of chart where you are reading chords.


Edited by Pianos_N_Cheezecake (03/07/09 04:39 PM)

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#1159167 - 03/07/09 06:28 PM Re: How To Get A Job as Keyboard Player in Churche [Re: Pianos_N_Cheezecake]
guest1013 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/13/07
Posts: 1239
I have a friend who does this as a member and volunteer, in a suburban area where most of the members are age 20-40.
I agree with Pianos N Cheezecake, in that many of these modern /contemporary newly established churches, music is supplied by members or, friends of members... It helps to visit and get to know people.

A lot also depends on the local culture and income in an area. Some that come to mind are tied to very specific ethnic or cultural traditions and communities. Also,some of the traditional faiths have services with modern music for their youth programs but often the music minister writes original music tailored to the specifics of the faith season (Easter, Christmas, etc.) with the youth performing as volunteers. And even then, the music minister may be holding down a second job as the youth minister.


Edited by guest1013 (03/07/09 06:44 PM)

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#1159205 - 03/07/09 07:44 PM Re: How To Get A Job as Keyboard Player in Churche [Re: guest1013]
jotur Online   blank
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5539
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
I've seen a couple listed on craigslist under "musicians" but I think most of them are church members if it's a church praise band. At least my friends are. As P&C says, it requires being able to play from a lead sheet, and knowing the style of the music. That requires listening a lot until you kind of understand it.

Being a church pianist for other than a praise band usually involves accompanying the choir and choir practice, and it means a *lot* of sight-reading skill.

Several members here do this kind of thing, so you might put them on a "watch list" or pm them. apple*, whippen boy, TX-Dennis (I think, for the praise band kind of music), currawong, come to mind.

But as guest says, if you're not familiar with the music it's best to go and listen, to see if it really is what you want to do, and to get an idea of what is involved.

Cathy
_________________________

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#1159209 - 03/07/09 07:49 PM Re: How To Get A Job as Keyboard Player in Churche [Re: guest1013]
nitekatt2008z Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/08
Posts: 552
Hey Thanks for responding. I know of several guitar players who have long standing regular church gigs and are paid very well for their commitment and hard work. Many churches have been moving to contemporary music like Kirk Franklin and other artists and the music is really inspiring and has some jazz/R&B roots. Sometimes there will be a regular pianist, B-3 organ, several keyboard players, horns, etc.

The hard part is finding listings of churches looking for good players to work with.
Larger churches have budgeted for their music programs and it can be a good part-time regular gig for the right people. Musicians involved with church music programs are not necessarily members of the congregation and some players work at different churches on the same Sunday. There are many talented keyboard players who are involved in the music programs in a variety of church denominations. Getting leads to what is out there is a challenge though and doing research on this topic has not been too successful yet in finding opportunities. I listen to and really like the music.

Thanks for all your advice

katt


Edited by nitekatt2008z (03/07/09 07:52 PM)

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#1159230 - 03/07/09 08:51 PM Re: How To Get A Job as Keyboard Player in Churches [Re: nitekatt2008z]
BJones Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/08
Posts: 1043
Loc: Queens, NY
Originally Posted By: nitekatt2008z
I wanted to get some info from anyone here who might have a job playing contemporary/gospel styles for churches. Where do you find these jobs and what songs are standards in church? I know When The Saints Go Marching In and Amazing Grace, but Christian music in the modern sense has become much more arranged and complex.

If anyone could respond on what it takes to get a keyboard player job in churches, please let us know on how and what to prepare for an audition.

Thanks katt


Organ repertoire is incredibly large and varied, moreso than any other instrument. Unless you have a huge wealth of liturgical and gospel music at ready command, your best bet would be to get hired into a band that already performs at churches.
_________________________
Some recent improvisations:

Cool School Chopin:

http://www.mediafire.com/?d1yc1mmitew

Improvisations:

http://www.box.net/shared/bjv6yc34oo

http://www.box.net/shared/8lmc3hzikl


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#1159232 - 03/07/09 08:57 PM Re: How To Get A Job as Keyboard Player in Churches [Re: BJones]
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
i would join a group.. sing, offer to play, learn the music, substitute.. you can do more than one group at a time.
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#1159260 - 03/07/09 09:45 PM Re: How To Get A Job as Keyboard Player in Churches [Re: apple*]
Pianos_N_Cheezecake Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/07
Posts: 150
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Well, nitekatt if you know so many guitar players with these long-standing well paid gigs, maybe they could hook you up!

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#1159265 - 03/07/09 09:54 PM Re: How To Get A Job as Keyboard Player in Churche [Re: Pianos_N_Cheezecake]
guest1013 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/13/07
Posts: 1239
nitekatt fyi
I think it is like getting a job, it helps to meet people and have a word of mouth referral. Christian bands looking for gigs gospel musician jobs site Maybe there is something like this in your location.


Edited by guest1013 (03/07/09 10:02 PM)

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#1159299 - 03/07/09 11:10 PM Re: How To Get A Job as Keyboard Player in Churche [Re: guest1013]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
I know pianists who does a lot of church gigs, but a lot of the people i know are classical pianists. They got the gig because they are good sight readers. Like what others have said, playing in church can mean very different things, but in general you need to have descent sight reading skills to do them.

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#1159301 - 03/07/09 11:17 PM Re: How To Get A Job as Keyboard Player in Churche [Re: guest1013]
nitekatt2008z Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/08
Posts: 552
Thanks again for the help. The guitar players and other musicians who worked in churches that I knew were years ago and have lost contact, many moved away, got out of the work, many factors.

But is anyone here actually playing in a church group and can tell us a bit about the experience? How many rehearsals, services, set list are things to know about.

We'll see what else pops up.

katt

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#1159310 - 03/07/09 11:38 PM Re: How To Get A Job as Keyboard Player in Churche [Re: nitekatt2008z]
guest1013 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/13/07
Posts: 1239
Good luck. One more fyi church musician listing

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#1159342 - 03/08/09 01:26 AM Re: How To Get A Job as Keyboard Player in Churche [Re: guest1013]
Pianos_N_Cheezecake Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/07
Posts: 150
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
I've been playing in my church for years. We're usually a 6-piece band, couple guitars, bass, keyboards, drums, vocals. We rehearse once a week, however we are at a point where we don't often need to rehearse as there is more a lot of listening going on and almost free playing throughout the form. Tunes we play come from artists from:

Hillsongs United---> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-08YZF87OBQ

Tim Hughes---> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oMHplKQnkk

Chris Tomlin----> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7PTvr755V8s

Also David Crowder, Parachute Band, Starfield to name a few more. I come from a church that believes in relationship with God and the movement of the holy spirit. Therefore services are more or less unstructured, as well as the music (one of the reasons we don't rehearse in depth). The experience is fabulous, I love it. The musicians I play with are very talented. Um... not a whole lot else to say. smile


Edited by Pianos_N_Cheezecake (03/08/09 03:21 AM)

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#1159526 - 03/08/09 01:50 PM Re: How To Get A Job as Keyboard Player in Churche [Re: etcetra]
nitekatt2008z Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/08
Posts: 552
Thanks guest 1013 for that great gospel musicians site, that was exactly the kind of link I was looking for. On my search, nothing like that came up, but that's why we stay on this forum, to share information.

Although I can read lead sheets and chord charts, I'm not a classical sight reader. But the kind of church gig I am looking for is more for the R&B kind of gospel music like Andre Crouch, Kirk Franklin. I am not experienced in being a choir director, church accompanist, etc.

I am actually learning styles, gospel chord progressions from other players on youtube and I signed up for free lessons on Hear & Play gospel sight. But I have a lot to learn, but I might be able to get started as a second keyboard player in a group, and some churches have training for their musicians and weekly rehearsals

Thanks again

katt

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#1159590 - 03/08/09 03:57 PM Re: How To Get A Job as Keyboard Player in Churche [Re: nitekatt2008z]
daviel Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/07
Posts: 933
Loc: Waxahachie, Texas
I played in a praise band for a few years, but it was not a paying gig. It was a lot of work, though. I liked it. I guess like anything else, you need to network in church circles. I go to a liturgical church - episcopal - and we have a paid music and choir director. He has a M. Mus. from Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and may be the finest pianist/organist I have ever heard. He can play in about all genres of church music from catholic/episcopal high church to gospel. So he is well credentialled, etc. I have gotten to play at a service once filling in for him, and played at a Christmas midnight mass. Believe me I couldn't fill his shoes, but the services were a blast for me - they were quite gospelly, too. Keep looking and good hunting - that's a real worthy gig.
_________________________
"She loves to limbo, that much is clear. She's got the right dynamic for the New Frontier"
http://roadhouseallstars.com/

David Loving, Waxahachie, Texas

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#1159809 - 03/08/09 11:48 PM Re: How To Get A Job as Keyboard Player in Churche [Re: daviel]
nitekatt2008z Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/08
Posts: 552
Yes, some churches have music budgets that can pay their musicians, others that are smaller the musicians are all volunteers. But I know salaries can be very good in churches with programs that can support them. And of course you have to be inspired by the music to head in that direction.

katt

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#1159866 - 03/09/09 03:04 AM Re: How To Get A Job as Keyboard Player in Churche [Re: etcetra]
Pianos_N_Cheezecake Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/07
Posts: 150
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Yes, I think you'd also have to take some sort of interest in God. After all, it is worship music for the most part. Check out Fred Hammond on youtube. He's great!

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#1160166 - 03/09/09 04:06 PM Re: How To Get A Job as Keyboard Player in Churche [Re: Pianos_N_Cheezecake]
nitekatt2008z Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/08
Posts: 552
True, you have to be into Scripture and fellowship to be led into a church band participant. When you hear that music, it just pushes you to get into it and learn to perform and study it.

I have discovered the hearandplay website and they have DVDs for keyboardists to learn gospel and contemporary styles. Really a great resource.

Thanks again

katt

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#1160412 - 03/10/09 12:06 AM Re: How To Get A Job as Keyboard Player in Churche [Re: nitekatt2008z]
gryphon Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/09/01
Posts: 11678
Loc: Okemos, MI
Here's me in my Praise Band:



But I don't get paid. I've belonged to a number of churches in my lifetime and none got paid. We do it as a ministry. Perhaps big, mega-churches have money to pay musicians, but most churches don't.

If you want to play for a church, volunteer for your own church.
_________________________
"If we lose freedom here, there's no place to escape to."
MSU - the university of Michigan!
Wheels

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#1160464 - 03/10/09 01:48 AM Re: How To Get A Job as Keyboard Player in Churche [Re: gryphon]
Rob Mullins Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/10/04
Posts: 318
Loc: LA CA
Hi,
Did anyone mention the most obvious starting point of going to different churches, listening to the various bands and styles and picking one from what music you liked the best? If you are going to work in a church group, you should really like the music.
You'll find that the genre of "church music" means a lot of different things to different people, so be sure you aren't trying to get a job doing music you can't stand. A lot of the churches in California where I live have moved to "praise" bands, mostly folk guitar with drop D tunings and newer versions of traditional songs. Not musically my cup of tea, but I appreciate what their intentions are.
Some of my associates have made great careers out of church gigs, most notably SaddleBack Church in Orange County where they have a budget for music and bring in a lot of guest artists. They featured me at a jazz series a few years ago and it was a lot of fun. Smaller churches sometime present a challenge because it can be harder to get to know people.
_________________________
Rob Mullins
www.planetmullins.com
28th album on sale now.

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#1160472 - 03/10/09 02:04 AM Re: How To Get A Job as Keyboard Player in Churche [Re: Rob Mullins]
nitekatt2008z Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/08
Posts: 552
Hey Rob. Yes, many churches in the LA/OC area are presenting contemporary praise music. I see some fantastic gospel praise groups on cable tv, the styles I'm into have more of an R&B/jazz influence and that is my background anyway. Many of the keyboard players that get these gigs are also playing secular sessions, touring, etc. When I hear Luther Vandross on the radio singing the song, Here and Now, if the lyrics were changed, that style could be in a sense a praise form.

I really got interested when I started checking out guys playing the B-3 organ in a gospel style on youtube and at the NAMM show in Anaheim. There is a definite sound and a certain segment of chord progressions that the music follows. Anyway, I'll keep picking up ideas and try to find a church where I could work into or maybe a sub if needed as an alternate. Some players here have posted some good links of church musician openings and that is a good start.

katt

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#1169851 - 03/27/09 03:40 PM Re: How To Get A Job as Keyboard Player in Churche [Re: nitekatt2008z]
Codetta Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/26/06
Posts: 134
Loc: Chino Hills, CA
For what it's worth here is my experience:

I currently play at a church in the San Gabriel, CA area. I play organ for the traditional service and then play piano in the band for the contemporary service. I am the rehearsal pianist for the chancel choir and the praise team so I'm at the church 3 days a week besides the time spent practicing and preparing my music selections. I've played in churces for all my life - beginning in Jr. High - and eventually got paid positions about 25 years ago.

Having been raised in church afforded me the opportunity to learn all the basic hymns along with the creeds and different styles of worship. Because I can sightread (which is an almost absolute must - you never know when something will be changed at the last minute) I have been able to get many other gigs like weddings and funerals. This has also enabled me to accompany the choir in rehearsals as directors are notorious for throwing music at us and expecting absolute perfection the first time out. A bit daunting, but with practice and intestinal fortitude one can rise above the nervousness and sweaty fingers.

The church I play at pays really well and I realize I am fortunate as this is not always the case. I believe with all the years of practice, money spent on lessons and music that this is fair compensation, although some "powers" in churches don't see it that way. These same people wouldn't have the audacity to seek a senior pastor and expect him to volunteer his time, etc. yet they expect us musicians (who have trained longer and harder) to do exactly that. I believe a worker is worthy of his efforts.

If you aren't well versed in Christian music there are a few radio music stations that play Christian music. There are scads of CDs available online and in bookstores as well as loads of books at the local Christian bookstore. Oh I almost forgot - if you have DirectTV there are some gospel and Christian music stations that you can listen to.

One thing that a music director will look at is your commitment to the Christian faith. If you are looking for a permanent position and not a Christian you will not be taken seriously. If you're hired on a performance only basis (i.e. for a Christmas program or Easter service) you may get hired for that one particular occasion.

One more thing to learn: I've found it most beneficial to have memorized Jesus Loves Me in the key of C and Happy Birthdayin the key of F. I can't tell you how many times I needed to play these 'on the fly'.

You may also want to contact a local church and get the name(s) of the keyboard players and/or organist and arrange to meet with that person and inquire further. Most musicians are very eager to share their experiences and pass on what they know.

I hope this helps. Don't get discouraged - just listen and make your presence known.



Edited by Codetta (03/27/09 03:51 PM)
_________________________
"Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life."
Berthold Auerbach

Private Piano Teacher
Member: Music Teachers' Association of California
Evaluator: Certificate of Merit
Organist/Pianist: Christ Lutheran Church, West Covina

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#1169942 - 03/27/09 06:15 PM Re: How To Get A Job as Keyboard Player in Churche [Re: Codetta]
ProdigalPianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 1049
Loc: Phoenix Metro, AZ
When I was in high school I was "in the rotation" to do both the piano playing of hymns for the church service while the congregation sang and 'special' music (more of a 'performance') during offerings, communion etc. I wasn't given much choice smile ...if you knew piano enough to play hymns it was considered your obligation. This was a small rural church and they still do things that way. The minister and the church secretary got small salaries. Everybody else donated their time for everything that got done.

I have several acquaintances among the graduate piano majors at the university where I work. A few of them have church jobs. They are very definitely just gigs as far as they are concerned, done for the money. In fact, one of the pianists is a Bhuddist, and smiles when she says how nice the people at the church were when they asked if she wanted to take communion. These jobs seem to be in the more old-line traditional churches, and involve traditional if not classical repertoire, although appropriate (slow, meditative) classical music is used to fill in during offerings, communion, etc where the choir is not singing.. I get the impression you have to definitely have a resume as a musician to get the gig. I am occasionally in the music department and see flyers posting part-time jobs for different instruments.
_________________________
Adult Amateur Pianist

My only domestic quality is that I live in a house.

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#1173218 - 04/02/09 01:17 PM Re: How To Get A Job as Keyboard Player in Churche [Re: ProdigalPianist]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3207
Loc: Virginia, USA
I'm guessing you are interested in playing what I call Praise and Worship style. I did a bit of that before I moved back to a liturgical church with classical organ playing.

First be aware that much of this music is not particularly good quality. It's also not all that difficult, but has to be played smoothly and fluently, and with as little dead air as possible.

Resources: http://www.greghowlett.com/freechristianpianomusic.aspx
Look at Greg's site, it helped me a lot. It might be too basic for you but it's a good starting point.

Also if possible get access to CCLI. Many churches will have a subscription, and most if not all the P&W repertoire will come from here.

Now, the smaller churches, particularly nondenominational Bible churches, will at best pay one organist/musical director, and the P&W team will be volunteers.

The middle size churches, especially if liturgical and/or mainstream denominational, won't be caught dead with this kind of garbage. (hyperbole added for emphasis)

BUT: the megachurches have the funds to pay not only a traditional organist/choir director but a contemporary keyboard player, and sometimes pay very handsomely.

So your progression is probably to join a small church as a volunteer, master the style, and use that as a springboard into a megachurch.

You'll have to be a Christian unless you play very very well, in which case they'll try hard to look the other way. Or if you can sing alto, you can be a practicing Satanist the rest of the week and still get hired! Hee, hee.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1175827 - 04/06/09 10:41 PM Re: How To Get A Job as Keyboard Player in Churche [Re: TimR]
Surendipity Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/24/05
Posts: 129
Do it for free and I'm certain god will bless you.

Even the birds of the sky are provided for.

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#1175833 - 04/06/09 10:55 PM Re: How To Get A Job as Keyboard Player in Churche [Re: Codetta]
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
Originally Posted By: Codetta
For what it's worth here is my experience:


One more thing to learn: I've found it most beneficial to have memorized Jesus Loves Me in the key of C and Happy Birthdayin the key of F. I can't tell you how many times I needed to play these 'on the fly'.



that cracked me up. i play for an ensemble at a Catholic church.. we do professional choral work, some contemporary, gospel and whatever. i play the organ or piano.. After a service our director announced that we would sing happy birthday for our pastor gestured toward me to start.

so i played happy birthday in the key of C. for the life of me i had never played it when anyone sang along..

it was quite funny.
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#1177659 - 04/10/09 12:54 AM Re: How To Get A Job as Keyboard Player in Churche [Re: apple*]
Piano Peddler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/28/04
Posts: 351
Hi Apple,

Most people are comfortable singing "Happy Birthday" in F or G major. You may have had some singers straining for the high notes or groaning for the low ones. LOL!!


Edited by Piano Peddler (04/10/09 12:55 AM)
_________________________
Craig Smith
aka "Piano Peddler"
Veteran industry professional
and keyboard musician

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#1179279 - 04/12/09 10:08 PM Re: How To Get A Job as Keyboard Player in Churche [Re: Surendipity]
Roy Rodgers Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/01/09
Posts: 347
Loc: Ranger, Texas
Having played piano for the same church for 35 years now I have seen all kinds of music get thrown at me to play on the spot. Must be able to sight read well, at least the lead line and make up the bass. I play the old Stamps-Baxter quartet music one minute and may be asked to play p&w next. Got to be versatile.

I also have played for the college jazz band while in school, college choir practice when the regular player couldn't be there.

A lot of churches in our area are going to the p&w style (central Texas area) and while I do enjoy that style, my personal favorite is the traditional hymns.

If you get the job, be prepared for weddings, funerals, valentines banquets and the like, so a well rounded knowledge of all types of music is good to know. I have had to play Floyd Cramer's "Last Date" at a few funerals. I played it at my moms since that was one of her most liked songs.

At the right church for you, this can be a most rewarding job.

Our church frequently offers to pay, but since I have attended there since I was a kid, it's more like playing for family. I figure it's one way I can give back a small portion of what has been given to me.
_________________________
Tuning and repairing pianos since 1981 in Ranger, Tx. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Roys-Piano-Service/173273022711505

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#1231328 - 07/14/09 09:09 AM Re: How To Get A Job as Keyboard Player in Churches [Re: nitekatt2008z]
handsome Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/14/09
Posts: 1
Most of what the guys have replied with are accurate. Most jobs found in churches is through friends and family. It shouldnt only be that way though and i have recently launched http://www.christianmusiciansforhire.com to try to bridge that gap. Its a resource to christian musicians seeking jobs in churches whether voluntary or paid and also helps church find musicians through our datbase as well.

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#1231343 - 07/14/09 09:41 AM Re: How To Get A Job as Keyboard Player in Churches [Re: handsome]
Varcon Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 1931
Loc: Mount Vernon, Georgia 30445
Like many others posting here, I, too, have played for services or Sunday school since I was able to do so. As I was a lousy sight-reader in high school the hymns were given to me on Wednesday so I could sort of be prepared. I played for the service occasionally and later for revivals at another church and when someone would not be available for the service.

In the army as a chaplain's assistant I played for the services and some weddings and became more proficient on the organ. And later I played for three services and choir practice at Parris Island (Marine Base) where anything could happen. One chaplain always had Happy Birthday for recuits who had birthdays that week. Bb seemed perfect for that. I have told some that I had be Baptized, Methodized, Catholicized each week (of course there were other denominations as well. One thing necessary to play for church is flexibility--helps a lot if you're Pisces! smile

Many churches, even if one is not a member, expect free service and to be on call for anything. Some pay and some pay generously and consider the organist/pianist part of the ministry staff.

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