- Make plans to find out about hymns, liturgy and special music
- Ask if they prefer to include information about special music in the church bulletin. If so, find out when they require this information.
- Find out if you will be expected to play for choir rehearsal(s). If so, be ready to play additional music for choir rehearsal.
- Discuss amount and form of payment before rehearsals or service
- You may turn to a number of resources to negotiate payment:
- What you currently earn
- What you understand other similarly qualified individuals earn
- Published information from unions of similarly qualified professionals such as the American Federation of Musicians, data published regularly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Guidelines published by denominational music organizations
- It may be particularly useful in negotiations to document what your time commitments will be to plan, prepare, practice, and perform service music, and to carry out all other duties expected of you for the position. You can also detail your academic study, years of training, and relevant experience.
- Familiarize yourself with the liturgy of the service for which you are playing. Recognizing where you are in the church year can simplify the process of making musical selections.
- The Christian calendar is centered around two major centers of Sacred time:
- Advent, Christmas, Epiphany
- Lent, Holy Week, Easter, Pentecost
- Not every church service is alike!
- Ask about the instrument you will be playing
- Piano or organ?
- If you don't have time at the church before playing, ask for specifics about the instrument(s)
- Ask what you will be expected to play
- This includes hymns, liturgical music and any additional music (prelude, offertory, postlude, children's sermon, etc.)
- If possible, talk through the service with the worship leader
- Ask about the congregation's musical preferences
- It is wise to own a variety of church music if you sub frequently
- If you are the regular pianist/organist, don't let the congregation's musical preferences deter you from introducing them to different types of music
- Find out about the choir's capability if you are also directing the choir:
- Ask the regular/previous choir director
- Ask members of the choir
- Look at the church's available choir music
- Select pieces of varying levels of difficulty and be flexible
- Planning choir music: plan as far ahead as possible!
- Keep in mind that all choir members may not be present to all rehearsals or services
- Use a calendar (or other system) to keep track of planned absences
- Don't let Advent, Christmas, Holy Week and Easter, sneak up on you! Plan for plenty of rehearsal time with choral music and book additional musicians as soon as possible