The following are workshops that I have in my current repertory and can present (almost) at the drop of a hat. (If you don’t see exactly what you’re looking for, or even if you see something that’s “not quite right,” please don’t hesitate to contact me to talk about your situation. I’m happy to collaborate with your organization to present a workshop custom-tailored to your specific goals and needs!)
Empowering the Word
Does your congregation fall asleep listening to lay readers? Do they have to read along to understand what’s being said from the pulpit? Are there looks of sympathy in the pews as insecure readers stumble through their tasks? A perennial favorite of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Joseph Priestley District Worship Arts Festival, this workshop explores the ten variables of public speaking and how to apply them—which ones to “keep up,” and which ones to “mix up”—to empower your readings and sermons.
Empowering the Word (optional part 2)
In this optional “add-on” workshop to Empowering the Word, I’ll your team to apply the lessons learned in “Empowering the Word” Part 1 to your readings, for your particular worship or other event.
Healthy Roots: Enriching the “Living Tradition”
Few 21st-century Unitarian Universalists appreciate—or even recognize—the rich theological heritage represented by our “grey hymnal,” Singing the Living Tradition. But the pages of that anthology represent the wisdom of more than 1800 years’ worth of theologians and laypeople. Join me in learning about these, our spiritual forbears, and singing through some of the lesser-known “gems” of this great volume! (The 90-minute version of this workshop allows time to sing only some of the featured hymns. I recommend expanding this to two workshop “slots” to allow attendees get the most out of the material.)
Shaping the Service (Part 1)
Worship can be the most exciting, energizing, challenging, inspiring, uplifting part of any congregation’s week. But last-minute planning often traps us in “inside-the-box” thinking that makes it difficult to produce anything more than stale, disjointed, haphazard presentations. This workshop introduces my “juicy bits” theory of worship planning, and gives your worship team practice at the kind of theme-based “what-if” brainstorming that will have your congregation wondering what went right!
Shaping the Service (Part 2)
In worship as in cinema, having all the right stars onstage doesn’t guarantee a blockbuster without an engaging story line. In this workshop we learn about the “worship arc”—the framework on which we will hang the “juicy bits” we discovered in Part 1—examining several common worship arcs and exploring other possible “shapes” that worship might take.
Singing from Heart to Heart (Part 1)
Does your choir gasp for air every two measures? Are they not quite in tune? Is their ensemble sound muddy, harsh, or immature? Few of us really understand the physiological systems we employ when we sing (hint: the diaphragm doesn’t do what you probably think it does), but adding a few focused, simple warm-ups to your choir’s regular rehearsals can make a world of difference!
Singing from Heart to Heart (Part 2)
Even experienced singers have to work constantly to collaborate musically with other voices. But paradoxically, the best way to become a good chorister is to know your own instrument well. In this workshop we discuss the characteristics that make each voice unique, and explore the magical ways in which choral singing takes advanatage of each individual voice.
The Soul of the Song: Exploring Identity and Race through Music
Do our congregations do a good job of welcoming the stranger and keeping her at the table? Does our community life reflect an openness to new cultural expressions, or is our “welcome” more conditional than we realize? In this workshop we listen to musical examples and process together how the “ears” we bring to the experience affect the notes that are played and the words that are sung—and what that means for those of us who plan worship.
Up Front, Down Solid, and in the Spirit: Arranging for Small Vocal Ensembles
The “worship team” of many contemporary worship music models serves both as inspirational performance ensemble and spirit-filled support for congregational singing. Let’s spend some time learning about (and playing with!) simple arranging techniques and guidelines that can help make sure your congregation feels like we’re all making a joyful noise together!