The UUMN Liaison for the Mountain Desert District is:
Bev Curtiss, Jefferson Unitarian Church, Golden, CO
Our District Liaisons have been charged with networking with other musicians and helping to promote music visibility within the districts. They are also available to assist congregations who are seeking information that will support a vibrant music program. Please don’t hesitate to call upon them when you have musical needs, such as help with encouraging congregational singing, developing a music program in your congregation, or additional resources.
More information can also be found at the national website: uumn.org.
REFLECTION ON THE UUA MUSIC LEADER CREDENTIALING PROGRAM
By Catherine A. Massey, former UUMN Co-Liaison for MDD
As one of the first group of Unitarian Universalist Credentialed Music Leaders, and the first from our district, I’d like to share a reflection on what this credentialing program has meant for me and my congregation. This program has helped me in so many ways to be a better music leader for the UU Church of Las Cruces, New Mexico. The journey ministered to me and helped me to grow spiritually and as a musician. I’ve been videotaped leading songs in worship and conducting the choir. I’ve analyzed how we’ve used music in our worship and visualized and enacted ways of doing it better. I’ve been evaluated by our choir, by my minister, my advisor and all the talented and generous musicians and ministers who have served as our instructors. I’ve used our hymnals as rich resources of cultural diversity and vocalizations of our UU history. I’ve thought, written and shared with my congregation my thoughts about ethics, our church’s budget, the lives of UU musicians, UU events I’ve participated in, music for social action projects, and UU worship and liturgy. My philosophy of music as ministry, and the skills with which I may implement it, have been profoundly changed and challenged by this process.
Motivated by coursework in the program, I took some big risks by leading our choir to become a covenant group and teaching them more difficult music at their request. I learned that really listening and responding to our choir led to a transformation that I could never have predicted. The choir became a very happy, energized group. They brought much more vitality to every service, and the whole congregation really noticed. As they improved technically and sang more interesting music, an excitement began to build. They got positive feedback from dozens of other members and visitors, and they continued to improve. Then other excellent singers joined the choir, which further improved the quality of the music. The whole congregation has been excited and pleased by this remarkable change. The resources provided through the UUA credentialing program and the UU Musicians Network, together with a willingness to collaborate and take chances, made this transformation possible. It was a deeply satisfying process for me, our choir and our whole congregation.
As I have gone through this process, our congregation has taken action to recognize the position of Director of Music as a professional one. They are moving toward meeting UUA standards in pay, changed my status from contractor to employee, and for the first time since I began in 1998 we now have a contract, written job description and evaluation process in place. These changes help to ensure that after I’m gone our congregation will have the budget and mechanism in place to hire someone to continue the music ministry we have created together. These changes are a direct response to my being part of the credentialing program.
This Sunday our congregation and I will celebrate our new relationship with special musical worship services. I am no longer a member volunteer, but a paid professional. We will sing, celebrate and covenant how we will now relate with each other. In so doing so we share and continue healthy, meaningful and creative work, made possible by the UUA Music Leader Credentialing Program.