Inspiring, educating and nurturing those
who minister through music and the arts

Conference 2019 Workshops

Good news! Workshops are open to all and do not require advanced registration. No need to choose until that day! Exceptions: Sign up for your choice of performance track when you register and note that the organ track has limited enrollment.

Performance Tracks  

11:00 am – 12:30 pm

Conference Vocal Choir (SATB) - Albert Pinsonneault

This is the choir that will rehearse and perform for the final Festival Worship Service on Friday evening. All voice parts are needed. Use this as an opportunity to step into the shoes of your choir members and see what singing is like on the other side of the baton. Learn rehearsal and interpretive techniques from a master. Attendance at all three sessions is essential.

Conference Handbell Choir - John Behnke

This handbell choir will rehearse and perform for the final Festival Worship Service on Friday evening. All skill levels are welcome. Be prepared to think fast and learn quickly. Attendance at all three sessions is essential.

Organ Master Class (limited size) - Bruce Bengtson

Sign up to play for Bruce during a Master Class

Open Workshops  


Anthem Reading Session
7:00 pm

Board Favorites

Four members of the UCCMA board will share their favorite choral anthems. 

Workshop Session 1
9:30 – 10:45 am

Feeding the Soul of the Musician - Ann Beaty

The church musician provides spiritual nourishment for the congregation, but how does the musician stay spiritually fed? This workshop will address burn out, healing, and prayer practices that can sustain the musician to do the work that is needed over the long haul.

Improving Blend and Intonation Through Vocal Technique – Bert Pinsonneault

This session will demonstrate impactful techniques to improve blend and intonation by asking singers to make small vocal adjustments with big results.

Taking Your Bell Choir to the Next Level – John Behnke

Tips on planning, tricks to rehearsing, ways to refine, and strategies to prepare for performance.

Let’s Put On A Show! Incorporating children’s music and drama into worship – Jeff Rabe 

Liturgical Art Project: Text, Design, Creation, Installation
Session 1 – Eldonna Hazen

Eldonna is the Senior Minister at First Congregational UCC in Madison. While she served as Associate Minister, she and two members of First Congregational traveled to California for a three day private retreat with well-known liturgical artist Nancy Chinn. Ms. Chinn is known for creating liturgical art for large spaces. The goal of the trip was to understand the process by which art is designed and created. Making no claim as an artist, Eldonna draws the artist out of everyone. This is an opportunity to learn how art can be organic from text to design to creation. Both workshops must be attended to complete the process. This is a hands on workshop, leading to an installation for the Festival Worship. All attendees at the conference will be able to participate in the creation and installation.

Workshop Session 2
1:30 – 2:45 pm

Dancing the Liturgy: What Is Liturgical Dance? – Susan Mendenhall

What is Liturgical Dance? Movement that enhances the experience/expression of worship - integrates mind, body, and spirit; technique can be from ballet, modern, jazz, ethnic or free style; interprets a concept, story, expression. Dance was embraced by the early church as an integral part of celebrations and of worship. At the time of the Reformation, dance was forced out of its place in the liturgical celebrations of the Christian church and instead flourished in the secular world. Gradually dance has found increasing acceptance in the worship life of the church. In this workshop we will learn ways to complement the worship liturgy using dance. Dance skills are not necessary.

Singing the Psalms in the 21st Century – Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

The psalms have been part of the worshiping tradition for millennia. How do we enact these ancient songs of joy, resistance and justice today? Come and learn how singing/praying the psalms can inspire and disrupt your church's worship life. Presentation, discussion, reflection and lots of singing!

Liturgical Art Project, Session 2 – Eldonna Hazen

(Continuation of Session 1)  

Progressive Christian Worship Music – Bryan Sirchio

This workshop is for pastors, choir directors, choir members, church organists and pianists, worship band musicians, anyone who designs or creates liturgies, and all lay persons interested in exploring the role of music in worship.  Drawing from his book, The 6 Marks of Progressive Christian Worship Music, Rev. Bryan Sirchio will focus on key points of Progressive Christian theology, how these theological nuances impact the lyrics we sing in worship together, and why these issues are so important!  We will sing together, discuss the challenges and opportunities of bringing new music and liturgical art forms into our local churches,  and discuss the role that music plays in spiritual formation and worship that is transforming and alive.  Time permitting, we will share best practices, best resources, and how to use the gifts of music more powerfully and fruitfully in our congregations, small and large.

How to Work With People in Your Choir who are Experiencing Dementia – Joy Schmidt

Choosing Sacred Music for Volunteer Choir – Bryan Johnson

The Intentionally Affective Rehearsal Margaret Jenks and Randal Swiggum, Madison Youth Choirs

Workshop Session 3
9:30 – 10:45 am

Dancing the Liturgy: Dancing the Carols – Susan Mendenhall

The original meaning of the word carol was a ‘singing dance’. The carols were intended to be danced as a community by using simple circle and processional formations. The circle dances reminded the faithful that God was in the center - drawing us into community. The processional dances were in straight lines – a reminder that God leads and guides us as we move in faith. The Advent season offers a special opportunity to learn about our familiar carols in a new way. In this workshop we will learn dances that can be integrated into an intergenerational event, a worship service, at Christmas parties, as a Sunday school happening, and as part of an Advent Festival complete with meal and worship. Dance skills are not necessary.

Collegial Creativity - Winton Boyd & Julie Mazer

Winton Boyd (Senior Pastor) and Julie Mazer (Children’s Music Director) worked together for 10 years in the same congregation.  As they came to cherish each other’s unique gifts, they teamed up together to create songs, programs and events that brought people of all ages together for worship, music and biblical exploration.  The more they worked together, the more they wanted to explore and experiment creatively. As they share a few of their own examples they’ll facilitate a conversation about how clergy and musicians can collaborate in life giving ways.  They will each share from their own perspective and role within a congregation.

Composing/Arranging for Handbells/Handchimes - John Behnke

Why are some pieces chosen for publication and others aren’t?
How to be creative, yet practical and marketable. 

Drumming in the Church and Beyond – Sarah Bodell

This workshop will offer insight and ideas on building a drumming ensemble within your church. No drums available? No problem! Solutions are provided as well as appropriate repertoire. Come prepared to roll up your sleeves and experience some drumming patterns. No drumming experience required.

Organ Workshop: Helping the Congregation to Sing – Bruce Bengston

Worship from the African American Sacred Music Tradition – Bryan Johnson

Workshop Session 4
1:30 – 2:45 pm

Feeding the Soul of the Musician – Ann Beaty


Seasons of Love: The Marriage of Broadway and Worship  – Don Shier & Aaron VanDanacker

You are formally invited to the marriage of Broadway and worship. Though the two are an unlikely pairing, this workshop will teach you how show tunes can be used to create seamless liturgy in any season of the church year. Don Shier and Aaron VanDanacker will share their experienced insight on planning, executing, and bridging musical theater throughout any worship service. This collaborative and interactive workshop will give you hands on experience in crafting a service with Broadway music, show you effective ways to carry out this experience for the benefit of your congregation, and give you a chance to sing along to some of your favorite show tunes. Don and Aaron will explore the relationship between music director, keyboardist, and pastor in shaping seamless and remarkable Sunday celebrations for your church. This session is designed for music ministers and pastors from all backgrounds to help make planning any liturgical season accessible and meaningful for all members of your church community. Where two or three theater folks are gathered, there a good workshop will be!

Art as Worship – Linda Hancock & Gail O’Neal

“The work of the [musician and visual] artist and the work of the church are inexorably bound. Both seek a response, a transformation of thought in those who come to see and enter to hear...When art and art-making become embedded in the religious community, work sideby-side, look at each other face-to-face and listen to each other, each helps the other do its work. Without the arts, theological proclamation is truncated. With the stimulus of critical questioning, art-making is enhanced.” —Catherine Kapikian, Art in Service of the Sacred

This workshop, aimed at musicians who value the expansion of all arts into worship, presents visual examples and urges the participating musicians to carry back to their home congregations the concept of employing visual art in worship. Don’t panic: it’s NOT a hands-on workshop! We will simply be offering ideas to enhance the already vibrant arts programs that musicians have established in their own churches, hoping that these examples will spark interest in fleshing out the liveliness of the home church with imaginative art aimed at giving congregants more paths toward worship. Come! Enjoy!

Spicing Up the Church Choir with Percussion – Sarah Bodell

This workshop will offer ideas and repertoire to incorporate drumming and other percussion instruments to existing church choirs or praise groups. Plan on leaving the session with the ability to take back music to your church choir for their next rehearsal!

Deepening Our Worship Experience: The Interplay of Sound and Silence – Janet Kessenich

Liturgy is rich with sermons, spoken prayers, hymns and choral anthems – but not typically balanced with silence, that essential space which allows the inspiration of the service to deepen and be integrated into our being.

Silence gives us the opportunity to focus, to clear ourselves of the outside world, find peace and calm, to connect with God, open our hearts.

In this workshop, learn Sound and Silence Reflections that you can use in worship, to open a meeting, to bring your choir into harmony even before they sing a note…while discovering how the interplay of silence with sound can enrich and enliven your spiritual experience and that of your congregation.

Workshop Session 5
9:30 – 10:45 am

Collegial Creativity – Winton Boyd & Julie Mazer


Organ Workshop: Organ Literature Reading Session – Bruce Bengston

Deepening Our Worship Experience; The Interplay of Sound and Silence – Janet Kessenich


Art as Worship – Linda Hancock & Gail O’Neal


Why Aren’t They Watching? Strategies for Non-Verbal Communication and Efficient Rehearsals – Bert Pinsonneault

This session will explore efficiency in both conducting gesture and rehearsal technique, avoiding common pitfalls, and working toward each conductor (and singers') individual strengths.

Workshop Session 6
1:30 – 2:45 pm

Let’s Put On A Show! Incorporating Children’s Music and Drama into Worship – Jeff Rabe


The Convergence Music Project – Bryan Sirchio

The Convergence Music Project (CMP) is a new online resource of worship songs from many diverse musical styles and traditions that have theology and language that line up with Bryan Sirchio’s book, The 6 Marks of Progressive Christian Worship Music.   CMP was launched by Wisconsin’s own Bryan Sirchio along with author Brian McLaren, Cameron Trimble of the Center for Progressive Renewal, Otis Moss III and the music team from Trinity UCC in Chicago, and other nationally known progressive Christian musicians such as Gary Rand and The Many, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan, Christopher Grundy, and Andra Moran.  Bryan Sirchio is the CEO and Lead Designer of this new company.  Bryan will explain the vision and purpose of CMP ( and illustrate how the website works.  The songs are extensively indexed to make it easy to find a perfect song needed for a particular liturgical moment in worship.  We’ll explore the site, listen to and sing along with some songs, and have time for Q & A and conversation regarding many of the issues connected to finding, creating, and bringing new music into congregations.

How to Work With People in Your Choir who are Experiencing Dementia – Joy Schmidt


Making New Lament Liturgy with the Psalms – Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

What does worship look like when there's deep trouble? Most congregations need practice praying our grief and outrage. Inspired by the heartbroken passion of the lament psalms, we'll create liturgy for moments of gratitude, desolation and resilience. Come and learn the poetic form of psalmic lament and get a deep breath of confidence for crafting prayers and songs for your community.

The Intentionally Affective Rehearsal Margaret Jenks and Randal Swiggum, Madison Youth Choirs


Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software