A friend of music at First Congregational Church is someone like you!

403 South Jefferson Ave.
Saginaw, MI 48607



Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Music Handbook Published

Is the spirit prepared to move through the voices and talents of congregation’s musicians? A variety of music including Taizé with classical guitar and treble instruments, excerpts from Haydn’s Missa Brevis - St Joannis de Deo with string ensemble, festive hymn settings and other music by The Saginaw Brass Quintet, and dozens of favorites will be among the repertoire this choir term, which begins September 8.  Members of all ages are invited to take part in the Chancel Bells, Chancel Choir, Choristers, and Recorder Consort. In addition, volunteers are needed to serve in roles of librarian, choir guardian, and the like.  Other information about the Choral Scholar and Organ Assistant initiatives is available in the department handbook available in hard copy or electronic format.

Perhaps you are interested in setting musical goals this year.  First Congregational Church might be the place for you to do so.  Do you want to improve your music reading abilities?  Six people are taking part in a sight singing course making use of Ottman's Music for Sight Singing [Eighth Edition].  You and your friends are welcome to join the weekly lessons at any time; though, it may be necessary to have a few catch-up tutorials. 



Weekly or biweekly rehearsals are required for members of the congregation’s ensembles because a choir is a group that functions like an athletic team. Each and every member of the team is important. If a choir member misses one or more rehearsals or sectionals during even a two-month period, he or she is not properly learning the music that the choir is scheduled to sing or play at worship. Of course, it is understood there will be times when a choir member needs to be absent due to an illness, a mandatory school function, a family emergency, and the like. Temporary leaves of absence from the ensemble are understandable during school examinations, work-related travel time, a period of mourning, or comparable times. However, tardiness and routine absence shows disrespect for the ensemble as a whole and will not be permitted; members unable to make the regular commitment are encouraged to (1) take a temporary hiatus from ensemble membership in order to evaluate their level of participation and (2) return to the ensemble only after regular attendance can be assured. Any attendance-related questions should be directed to the Director of Music.

Rehearsal Etiquette

It is understood that how a choir rehearses directly relates to how it performs. Following the simple rules of choral etiquette will result in a fruitful, respectful singing-ringing experience. Firstly, it is essential to be on time. Arriving late is distracting to the director and other choir members. Tardy singers miss vocalization, which is essential to rehearsals. Secondly, avoid wearing or carrying strong scents. Many people are physically sensitive or allergic to perfumes and other strong scents – this is an objective matter.  Avoid eating onions or garlic before rehearsal. Thirdly, bring pencils to rehearsal in order to mark directions and notes on your scores. Failing to mark what the conductor requests shows a lack of choral solidarity and results in poor performance. Do not use colored pens or highlighters, for directions may be changed upon a piece’s future use. Fourthly, sing the musical part assigned you by the conductor; sing in the appropriate range. Do not sing an octave lower than what is written; do what is assigned in order to improve tuning and make best use of your vocal quality. Sing with sensitivity to your fellow choir members.  Fifthly, avoid talking, chatter, and excess movement during rehearsal and worship. While choral rehearsal and singing is a sociable pastime – and while it is realized that camaraderie in a choir is one of its strongest benefits – neighborly conversation and chatter during rehearsal stalls the forward progress of the entire ensemble. Talking during service, which includes any music sung or played before the first hymn and even during the postlude, is downright unacceptable; those persons who do so will be asked to prayerfully join the congregation and take a temporary leave of absence from the ensemble.


The yearly schedule may seem challenging at first; however, regular rehearsals provide a wonderful system for musical growth and are necessary for the regular output of sacred repertoire. After a number of weeks, a new choral novice falls naturally into the flow. Success in the program not only depends on the commitment of each choir member, but of parents and family members as well. Choir parents, spouses, and children are encouraged to be wonderfully supportive of one another. Carpools to rehearsals and services should be arranged. Music staff and Friends of Music should be contacted to help and encourage choir members in their progress in lively partnership with families. Times for fellowship following rehearsals are strongly encouraged.  Choir members are encouraged to share prayer concerns with the ensemble in order that pastoral needs are met.

Choral Scholars

Members of the congregation’s music ministries are encouraged to sponsor (or partially fund) a choral scholar. Beginning in September 2011, a maximum of four Choral Scholarships as determined by the availability of funds will be offered by First Congregational Church to male and female students who obtain admission to one of the colleges or universities in the Saginaw vicinity and for whom it would otherwise be a hardship to acquire a higher education. Preference is given to those qualified applicants who pursue music; it is emphasized that funds enable a student to commence an education. Choral Scholarships only remain secured on the condition that the holder retains his or her academic place for the duration of the Scholarship. Auditions will be held in early September 2011. Candidates are advised to check in advance with the Director of Music Ministries possible vacancies in their particular vocal range or ensemble. The following details are provided for your information: the Choral Scholarship is currently (from September 2011) $750 in the first year, and may be renewed. Choral Scholars keep the following choir terms: (a) first rehearsal (29 September) until and including Christmas Eve (24 December); (b) 19 January until and including Easter Sunday (8 April); (c) 19 April until and including 6 May. A free week (Wednesday-Sunday) is arranged with the conductor in the course of each term.

Organ Assistants

Musicians interested in learning about the pipe organ are asked to consider serving as organ assistants.  Console assistants help the staff organist by turning pages, drawing stops, and even playing melodies at Sunday service.  The time commitment is determined on a week by week basis – on a given service week, the assistant will have a short rehearsal with the staff organist (as scheduled on a day Monday through Thursday) and take part in 10:30 a.m. Sunday worship.  The student will receive two thirty-minute organ lessons in exchange for his or her stewardship of time.  This is a perfect opportunity for an aspiring organist, a pianist interested in expanding on his or her skills, or a young musician.  Persons of all ages are encouraged to take part.

Voice Lessons and Music Theory Workshops

Vocalization and sight reading takes place at each choir rehearsal, but training on an individual basis can address matters of vocal health, range, breath control, and overall confidence that cannot be covered in an ensemble setting.   Singers are invited to contact the choirmaster to arrange lessons.  Music theory lessons will take place in a group format determined by interest.
Choir Guardians

The choristers will be provided a safe and secure environment during rehearsal and performance.  While all parents and guardians are encouraged to observe rehearsals-workshops, one adult other than the choirmaster is required to be present at each gathering.  Families are encouraged to take part in a snack schedule to encourage the fellowship of choristers.  Lists of allergies and emergency contact information must be received by the music office so a healthy atmosphere can be maintained.

Staff and Volunteers

Nicholas Schmelter                                         989.754.6565             n.schmelter.fccsaginaw@gmail.com
Director of Music Ministries                 
Dr. Steven L. Egler                                        
Artist in Residence

Beverly Westervelt                                                  
Director, Recorder Consort                            

Jim Hargett                                                    
Men’s Section Leader, Chancel Choir           

Weekly Rehearsal Schedules

Chancel Choir – Thursdays (as scheduled), 7:15-8:45 p.m.; Sectionals Alternating Thursdays (as scheduled), 7:15-8:00 p.m.

Chancel Bells – Alternating Thursdays (as scheduled), 6:00-7:00 p.m.
Recorder Consort – Tuesdays (as scheduled), 4:45-5:45 p.m.
Choristers – Wednesdays (as scheduled), 4:30-5:30 p.m.


Contact the Director of Music Ministries for a copy of the schedule that indicates the rehearsals, sung services, concerts, and other events for which the choirs will be active during the 2011-12 season. This schedule is subject to minor changes. As much advance notice as possible will be given in such cases.

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