Our 2019 seminars will provide both theoretical background as well as practical information that you can take back to your ministries. Enjoy learning and growing together … and hey, maybe even a little bit of fun, too!

Seminar titles, descriptions, and offerings are subject to change.  

As of January 23, 2019:

Choral | Children/Youth Choral | Choral for Youth/Young Adult AttendeesHandbells | Organ | InstrumentalDance in Worship | Dance (for Fun!)Theatre in Worship | Visuals in Worship | WorshipYoga | Miscellaneous


Bon Appetit: Tasty Choral Techniques … and Things from Everyday Life – Pearl Shangkuan
A session on group vocal techniques using foods and other things from everyday life to help singers of all ages understand quickly, remember better and produce more satisfying musical results.

Effective, Efficient and Enjoyable Choral Rehearsal Techniques for Quick Comprehension and Maximum Retention – Pearl Shangkuan
A session on planning and leading rehearsals using techniques that are efficient, effective and also enjoyable to help singers of all ages understand quickly and remember better.

Giving Our Best: An Offering of Choral Artistry – Pearl Shangkuan
Looking at 7 elements in music making as we proclaim the Word of God through songs presented with artistic excellence and be a channel of God’s grace and message to the congregation.

Choral Reading Session – André Thomas
This is a reading session of music both new releases and the “tried and true” music for the church choir.

Conducting Check-Up – André Thomas
This session is for the beginning through the advanced conductor. In addition to developing the conductor’s gesture, rehearsal technique will be addressed.

Way Over in Beulah Lan … Understanding and Performing the Negro Spiritual – André Thomas
This session based on my book of the same title, is a historical look at the Negro Spiritual, as well as a discussion regarding performance practice.

Togetherness! Achieving an Excellent Unified Choral Sound – Damion Womack
Many choral conductors primary goal is to achieve a unified sound within their ensemble. Students in elementary, secondary, and collegiate ensembles often times hear the word “blend” but are not able to relate this term in the everyday choral rehearsal. This presentation will offer an extremely concise look into the subject of how to develop a unified healthy and artistic vocal tone in any choral ensemble regardless of size, age, and skill level.

From Madness to Musicality: Teaching First Time and/or Inexperienced Singers! – Damion Womack
This session will highlight methods to have immediate success conducting new or inexperienced singers. In addition, attendees will participate in creative vocal exercises and techniques to use in any choral setting that will serve to improve tone, resonance, and tone color. The following vocal techniques I have used have come down through the years from conductor to conductor and the pedagogy I will talk about is consistent with the ideas of many other successful choral conductors.

Why Do I Have to Move? – Damion Womack
This session will focus on specific techniques to enhance the vocal and reading ability of your choral ensemble by experimenting with various seating arrangements and proper vocal placement. We will also discuss how different seating and vocal arrangements issues can be greatly improve pitch and intonation by making a few modifications in your rehearsal settings.

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Children and Youth Choral

With Hearts and Hands and Voices: Loving Your Children and Building Community – Amanda Craft
In this session, we will explore a variety of ways to build relationships with our choir children and families. Some of these ways can be woven right into your rehearsals, such as getting to know you warm-ups and musical prayer time, and others are simple add-ons to your week that mean a lot and build community. As part of loving them well, this session will also address safety procedures and issues of protecting your children and volunteers during rehearsals and trips. We will be sure to leave time to hear ideas from participants too!

Children’s Music Camp 101 – Amanda Craft
This session is geared toward anyone interested in beginning a children’s summer music week experience at their church, or those wishing to breathe new life into theirs. I will share ideas from recent music camps, including content, schedules, and registration procedures, and will save time for idea sharing and questions. Let me help you get your camp going!

The What & How: Choosing High-Quality Repertoire for Children’s Choirs and Vocal Modeling – Amanda Craft
In this session, we will discover what to look for in choosing high quality repertoire for young choirs, as well as practical adaptations for choirs of varying sizes, ages, and abilities. We will also have an opportunity to practice good vocal modeling for children’s voices.

Before and After the Singing: Organization and Communication for Children’s Choirs – Malcolm Merriweather
Merriweather will speak on topics that are non-musical: communication, scheduling, parent/guardians, etc. Included in the discussion will be methods and mechanisms of assessment for choirs.

Making a Difference Through Your Music – Malcolm Merriweather
Merriweather will talk about his experience curating programs that use repertoire that reflects on contemporary cultural and social topics.

Recruitment and Retention for Children’s Choirs – Malcolm Merriweather
Merriweather shares his experience and tactics for recruitment and retention of choristers. Merriweather’s experience ranges from building and directing children’s choirs within the Methodist Church to the cathedral chorister program at St. John the Divine, New York City.

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Choral for Youth/Young Adult Attendees

Young Adult Choir
This choir is open to young adults between 18 and 25 years of age. They will prepare music for the Thursday evening concert. Singers should participate in other choirs during morning rehearsals in addition to this group.

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Change Ringing: American Style – Danny Lyons
The art of ringing handbells evolved from being a practice instrument for change ringing on tower bells, so change ringing is part of our heritage. Come participate or observe a lively, entertaining class that uses numerical patterns (changes) rather than music notation. Open to ringers and non-ringers. No ringing or music skills required. Everything you need to know will be taught in the class.

Solo Handbell Demonstration – Danny Lyons
Seminar will include discussion of set-up, techniques, styles, of music of playing solo handbells. All questions will be answered. Sacred and secular repertoire will be explored.

The Virginia Reel … with Handbells! – Danny Lyons
The Virginia Reel is a folk dance which was very popular between 1860 and 1890, and the people who danced it then had no idea that one day it could include handbells — in fact, they couldn’t have known what handbells are — but here it is in our own 21st Century version.

Drills for Quick Bell Changes – Carol Lynn Mizell
Come join the drill to become a “quick change artist” from slow motion to warp speed! Our goal is both speed and musicality.

Solving Challenging Ringing Passages – Carol Lynn Mizell
Sometimes, you are a part of the melody. Sometimes you are a part of the accompaniment. Sometimes, you are asked to play different things with your two hands at the same time! It’s “hands on” in the middle of the handbell table! Explore ringing techniques and numerous ways of making challenging ringing passages possible.

Malleting and Other Short/Stopped Sounds – Carol Lynn Mizell
Stopped sounds: What, when, where and why? Come and learn or get a refresher on these techniques.

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African-American Hymnody – Nathaniel Gumbs
This seminar will focus specifically on hymns by African-American composers. We will look at traditional to contemporary settings of congregational hymns, spirituals, and gospel selections. Music will be provided for examples to sing through during the seminar.

Creative Service Playing – Nathaniel Gumbs
This seminar will explore creative ways of accompanying service music on the organ. We will discuss hymn introductions, modulations, and interludes. We will also discuss text depiction through registration, dynamics, and touch.

Contemporary Keyboard Skills – Nathaniel Gumbs
This seminar will focus specifically on contemporary and gospel music keyboard improvisation. Many times we see a contemporary score or chart and not sure how to interpret or embellish it. We will discuss various ways oh how to make the music come alive and off the page.

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Instrumental Ensemble
The Instrumental Ensemble is made up of youth and adults this week. Ensemble performs a concert Thursday afternoon. Instrumental parts will be distributed on Sunday afternoon to those individuals who preregistered as an instrumentalist. If you did not preregister, please come to the first rehearsal and speak with the directors. Percussion instruments are provided for the week. (Youth and Adults welcome!)

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Dance in Worship

Modern Dance – Hycliff Soler
During this class we will learn the basics vocabulary of the technique based in Jose Limón methodology with contractions, releases, Spirals, tables and triplets combinations. Also the class will show diagonal exercises and a repertory.

Ballet – Hycliff Soler
In this class we will study barre work exercises to explore the alignment of the body and the execution of the technique thru movements developed in diagonal, center and repertory.

Dancing My Testimony – Hycliff Soler
This is a creative movement class where the students will be challenged to express feelings and stories regarding in some assigned theme, provided with tools of improvisations, work space and dance levels. At the end of the class the student will share with the class a small variation of a testimony they had experienced in their life and minister to the class.

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Dance (for Fun!)

Information to come!

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Theatre in Worship

Costumes, Lighting and Sets … Oh My! – Sarah Celec
No, costuming does not need to include small children being made into shepherds. Yes, there is a place for those candles during more than just the Christmas Eve service. Come and learn how to be creative with what you have on hand.

Scripture Reading: Yes, It Can Be Fun! – Sarah Celec
Are you bored to tears listening to the scripture reading? Do you feel like the scripture reading should be impacting? Come and learn how to make it interesting and impactful.

Transitions: Are They Really that Important? – Sarah Celec
The short answer: Yes, they are! Learn how to get from Point A to Point B without that awkward silence.

Worship Arts! It Ain’t Just for Musicians Anymore – Sarah Celec
Do you feel passionate about leading in worship but don’t feel confident in your musical skills? There is a place for you! Come and see where you can make your mark.

Together for Good – Sarah Celec
All things in a worship service should work together to create magic. Learn how to how to make all elements of a worship service work together for good.

There’s an App for That – Sarah Celec
It can be overwhelming to find great worship resources, particularly for theatre. What are some of the resources that you’ve found that have changed your worshiping experience? Let’s gather to listen and share about amazing worship arts resources.

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Visuals in Worship

Exploring Art in Worship: Devotion – Mary Button
In this class, participants will explore various aspects of devotional art-making. Together we will look at icons, do some meditative doodling, and prayerful painting. The goal of this seminar is to give participants lots of ideas for how to grow their prayer life through different forms of artistic expression. The focus will be on individual devotion and meditation. We’ll experiment with different mindfulness techniques using paint, clay, and more!

Exploring Art in Worship: Imagination – Mary Button
How can art help us to imagine God in new and challenging ways? In this session, participants will explore visual art from many different Christian traditions, as well as use collage techniques to create their own image of God. We’ll work together to explore the ways church communities can foster imagination and empathy through art-making.

Exploring Art in Worship: Joy – Mary Button
Whether it’s bubbles on Easter or kites on Pentecost, communal art-making is a profound way of cultivating and practicing joy in worship. In this class, we’ll explore easy ways to bring joy and whimsy into our life together. Participants will leave with lots of ideas for how to bring play into the life of the church in ways that connect across generations.

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WARNING: Spirit Wander Zone … – Suzi Byrd
The following class might cause discomfort! Liturgy is considered to be the work of the people and yet sometimes we barely allow the people to participate in worship. Have you ever wondered what worship could be like if the entire worshiping body created the liturgy as we worship together? The gift of improvisation empowers us to wander away from pre-designed worship services and invites each worshiper to be part of the creating process. Please join the Rev. Suzi Byrd in this interactive learning and worship experience.

W(o)andering Off the Page – Suzi Byrd & DeAndre Johnson
This is a workshop in the Master Class format engaging participants in enlivening congregational singing without written music. 3-5 students (first come, first serve) will have the opportunity to teach the class a new song without using music utilizing Methodist repertoire from The United Methodist Hymnal, The Faith We Sing and Worship & Song. All are invited, all are equipped!

How I Got Over: Songleading in the Black Church Tradition – DeAndre Johnson
This interactive workshop will engage participants in practical ways for effectively leading congregational song in the black church tradition.

Spiral Dynamics: A Model for Understanding Our Complex World – Magrey deVega
We live in a richly complex world, reflected in the diversity of perspectives and worldviews in our local congregations. How can people in the same church, worshipping the same God, have such vastly different theological, biblical, and ideological viewpoints? Spiral Dynamics is a model for explaining the foundations of these differences, to create possibilities for empathy, understanding, and healthy dialogue over divisive issues.

Worship Design: A Collaborative Approach – Magrey deVega & Michael Dougherty
Worship planning need not be a dreary undertaking by a solo staff member. When done cooperatively and creatively, and with the help of collaborative communication software, worship design can be an energizing, fluid process. Join Magrey deVega (Senior Pastor) and Michael Dougherty (Worship Team Leader) as they offer the system used at Hyde Park UMC in Tampa.

Embracing the Uncertain – Magrey deVega
Engage the post-Transfiguration, pre-Easter stories in all four gospels to create a biblically-rooted Lenten worship series. This workshop will explore “Embracing the Uncertain” by Magrey deVega, which offers both a six-week small group study and a 40-day devotional.

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Information to come!

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Information to come!

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