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Pilgrim House

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

Music Coordinator


An important part of the community culture at Pilgrim House is the strong and integral role of music in our programs and celebrations. The Pilgrim House Music Coordinator is responsible for ensuring that tradition be maintained and enhanced. This is an unpaid volunteer position, augmented by a team of fellow volunteers, and charged with ensuring both the continuity and quality of music in Pilgrim House programs.


The Music Coordinator is responsible for:

  • Personally participating as accompanist and/or musical lead in a substantial number of PH Sunday programs throughout the year, as well as special programs when requested.
  • Establishing an informal team of volunteers (the Music Committee) who will work together to support the Pilgrim House music program.
  • Working together with the music committee volunteers to ensure that musical accompaniment is provided for all PH Sunday programs as well as select special programs when requested.
  • Working together with the music committee volunteers to ensure that music consistent with the relevant Sunday program theme is selected and communicated to the facilitator for that program, and is led during the program.
  • Personally leading, or arranging for another music committee volunteer to lead, PH Chorale practices and performances.
  • Working together with the music committee volunteers to continuously enhance and maintain the Pilgrim House song book.
  • Maintaining together with the music committee volunteers a library ("The Black Book") of accompaniments for the Pilgrim House song book.
  • Maintaining together with the music committee volunteers a library of sheet music for the PH Chorale.

Activities and Processes

Music Committee

The Music Committee is an informal team of Pilgrim House members interested in the musical aspects of Pilgrim House programming and willing to personally assist in the activities identified within the scope of the Music Coordinator.

Music Committee members are either self-selected as a result of the annual volunteer interest survey conducted each spring, or recruited by the Music Coordinator.

Typically the Music Committee, under leadership of the Music Coordinator, operates through informal e-mail and personal communication to ensure that music coordination responsibilities are being addressed throughout the year. In particular the committee is responsible for ensuring that a lead musician is identified to select and lead music for each PH Sunday program or select special program, when requested.

The Music Committee may meet periodically, at the discretion of the Music Coordinator, to address planning or other responsibilities, or to address any actions requested of them by the Pilgrim House Board of Directors or Program Committee.

Weekly Accompaniment for PH Programs

Lead Accompanist

The Music Coordinator and Music Committee together identify lead accompanists who will be responsible for each Sunday program, or other select special programs when requested. Lead accompanist responsibilities are identified approximately 1 month in advance, if possible, with lead assignments communicated to the Facilitator Coordinator and Program Chair.

Music Selection

The lead accompanist is responsible for:

  • Reviewing the topic and theme for the subject Sunday, as well as coincidence with other events (e.g. Martin Luther King Sunday, coincident world or local event, etc.).
  • Discussing music preferences with speaker where possible.
  • Considering music used in recently-past programs to maximize variety.
  • Selecting music in consideration of the above information and the musical preferences of the group at large.
  • Optionally identifying and providing, or arranging for providing, meditation music leading (and potentially closing) the Sunday meditation.
  • Providing the list of selected songs, and whether or not meditation music will be provided, to the program’s facilitator by end-of-day Wednesday, or, on exception at the very latest, end-of-day Thursday, for publication in the Sunday program. This is typically done via e-mail.
  • Communicating this information, typically via e-mail, to any other musicians expected to assist in leading music for the subject Sunday.

Leading Sunday Music

The identified lead accompanist for a particular Sunday or other event is responsible for:

  • Briefly coordinating with volunteer singers and any other assisting musicians prior to start of the program.
  • Leading music for the Sunday program, including starting the first song at exactly 10:15.
  • Optionally presenting the meditation music as previously committed to the program’s facilitator.

PH Chorale

Chorale participation is open to adults, university students, and high school students.

The Music Coordinator is responsible for personally leading, or arranging for another music committee volunteer to lead, PH Chorale practices and performances. These responsibilities include:

  • Working with the program committee well in advance with respect to opportunities and expectations for the Chorale’s participation in selected programs.
  • Working with the individual identified to coordinate planning for special programs (e.g. Holidays, Annual Meeting). In some cases where the subject programs have a high degree of music content the facilitator for that program may be the Music Coordinator.
  • Considering Chorale Selections well in advance of the event (no less than 5 weeks in advance of the program if new music is to be purchased — for music purchase and cataloging information see “Music Library”, below).
  • Planning Chorale practice times and locations.
  • Providing the Newsletter Editor and program facilitator with announcement information on Chorale practices prior to their respective publishing deadlines.
  • Maintaining an e-mail list of Chorale members and sending e-mail notifications and reminders of upcoming practices.
  • Leading Chorale practices:
    • For one piece of music approximately one 1 to 1.5 hour practice plus a 20-minute Sunday morning run-through is generally sufficient
    • For 3 to 5 pieces of music, approximately two 2-hour practices plus a 40-minute Sunday morning run-through is typically necessary, particularly if selections are new and some are more difficult.
  • Leading the Chorale’s performances.

PH Choral Music Library

The Music Coordinator, or designee, is responsible for maintaining a library of purchased PH music.

  • A library of purchased Chorale music is maintained in a set of portable catalogue files. A record of the date of each performance for any given piece of music is maintained along with the music for future program planning music selection purposes.
  • Music can be purchased under the Program Planning budget or provided by donation; however it is recommended that music purchases be made under an account that recognizes PH’s tax-exempt status and, where available, includes a church discount. Pilgrim House has such an account at Groth Music, 8045 Nicollet Ave. South, in Bloomington, two blocks south of I-494. Music purchased under this account, even if paid (as a donation) with personal credit card or cash, is entitled to the Groth’s 10% church discount and will not be taxed. The main Schmidt Music Center in Brooklyn Center (I-694 just west of Brookdale and visible north of the freeway) also provides such a discount, but PH does not (as of Jan. 2003) presently have an account there.
  • It is highly recommended that Chorale music be purchased in sufficient quantities for Chorale use (typically about 12 copies), and that Xerox copying of music be avoided. Note that the time and potential cost savings associated with double-sided copying doesn’t justify that approach, independent of the legal considerations.

PH Master Music Book

A master book (the "Black Book," a black loose leaf binder) of accompaniments for music in the PH songbook is maintained at PH in the main meeting room lectern for the use of lead accompanists. The Music Coordinator and Music Committee are responsible for keeping that book as complete as possible, including entering notational copies of currently un-scored PH songbook songs whenever possible. Lack of piano manuscripts for songbook songs seriously limits the ability of many musicians to assist in or lead Sunday music.

PH Song Book

The PH Song Book is central to our singing tradition at Pilgrim House. Its selections reflect and reinforce the group’s musical culture and preferences in ways that are not possible when using a single published source for songs.

The Music Coordinator, assisted by Music Committee members, is responsible for keeping the songbooks current and fresh with new music relevant to the times and the interests and preferences of the Pilgrim House membership.

New music can be entered into the songbook at the discretion of any Music Committee member. New songbook pages should be complete (printed with songs on both sides) and numbered per songbook convention. Lyrics should be examined to ensure sensitivity to gender, cultural and other concerns, and potentially adjusted where appropriate before music is printed and added to the songbook. Care should be taken regarding potential copyright infringement (copyrights can often be obtained at minimal or no cost for usage typical to ours at Pilgrim House). The Music Committee maintains the master songbook, and prints insert pages in conjunction with bulletin printing the week any new song is added.

Extra copies of songbook pages are maintained in a file near the PA system.

Where only printed words are added to the songbook, a sheet music or notational copy (if available, preferably for piano) should be added to the "Black Book". Ideally, a personal sheet music or notational copy of a new song should also be provided to each Music Committee member who also serves as a lead musician.

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Page last modified on November 03, 2007, at 05:46 PM