Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne (CTSFW) was recently delighted to have even more marvelous music on campus than usual, due largely to the talented attendees of our Musician Workshop.
A popular and beloved event (it sells out and has a waitlist every year), the Musician Workshop allows the Seminary community to do one of the things closest to the heart of our mission: teach the faithful and provide resources for our church. CTSFW is extremely blessed with its music staff—Dean of Chapel Dr. Paul Grime, Kantor Hildebrand, and Kantor Machemer—who all have a passion for serving and enriching the church, showing students, guests, and congregations how all elements of worship point to Christ and how music can enhance how we understand our faith.
All ability levels are always welcome at the annual Musician Workshop, and people come from all walks of life. Workshop attendees had the opportunity to gain a more in-depth understanding of the theology behind worship. There were sessions that focused on pedaling, exploring the Lutheran Service Book, and leading music for the liturgy. Apart from discussion time being woven throughout the classes, students also had the opportunity to enjoy fellowship over refreshments and meals, explore the lovely CTSFW campus, and take a trip downtown to see a recital at the beautiful and historic St. Paul’s Lutheran Church (one of the founding congregations of the Seminary and The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod).
Grime’s background in church music allowed him to help and prepare musicians for hymns that choirs and congregations have difficulty singing at times, including tips on how to guide and lead them through. In one case Grime helped show a student (and the class) how to use cadences to help make up for difficult phrasing and places where a congregation can tend to slow down. He joked how Bach wrote several pieces to ensure that you would get a lot of practice, due to the fact that it is difficult to achieve equal facility in both hands. He emphasized how crisp articulation can add clarity and meaning to a piece. Grime also weaves pieces of history throughout his teaching to give students a stronger understanding of and connection to the music they play.
Kantor Hildebrand’s ardor and experience are apparent in his teaching. He talked about ways to evoke mood and feeling in a piece, how to add interest, and how a big rich registry can pull in a listener. One of the advantages of having the students listen and play in both the Kramer Chapel and the Seminary’s practice room is that Hildebrand was able to clearly illustrate and emphasize the importance of adapting to the organ and the surrounding space.
Students were also given useful handouts and resources to bring back and use in their congregations.
From Campus Lutheran Church in Columbia, Missouri, Principal Organist/Pianist David M. English was very pleased with the knowledge he gained and the skills he fine-tuned during his time on campus. “I have attended many organist workshops but this was the best. It is the only workshop that focused exclusively on the essential skills needed by Lutheran organists.” Josie Zweifel, who is on the rotation to play the organ at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Carlisle, Iowa, and Concordia University Wisconsin, also enjoyed and benefitted from her visit to campus. “It was very helpful, it was a lot of fun, got to meet people and enjoy time on campus! Highly suggested.” Roy Swanson, the Director of Music at Madeira Silverwood Church in Madeira, Ohio, was also delighted with his experience and encourages church musicians to take advantage of next year’s workshop. “I really had a good time at the workshop and gained quite a few great ideas to incorporate into my practice and into our worship services. The instruction was excellent, the food was good, and the campus is beautiful. I highly recommend this conference to fellow organists!”
As Kantor Machemer expressed, “What a blessing it is to work with these organists! I’m always amazed at the enthusiasm and dedication of our attendees. They are folks from all walks of life. High school and college students, working professionals, and older adults. They come to us with a genuine desire to learn more about their craft and use their skills to serve Christ and their congregations. It is truly an honor to be a part of this week and help these musicians develop their skills and knowledge of the church’s song!”
To access a collection of resources for musicians, visit
Soli Deo Gloria