By Peter Niedmann
Once a year, I teach our church confirmation class. For one hour, a dozen or so 8th-graders get a quick overview of church music. I walk them through a worship service, using a bulletin as reference. We look at a few hymns and explore how the composer and poet often aren’t from the same era. We notice how the hymns and anthems are chosen based on the scripture readings. We see how the organ music is based on the hymn tunes. We check out the inside of the piano, play the handbells, the synth keyboard, and the organ. They blow into a pipe so they can feel the organ’s need for wind. I demonstrate a variety of stops, play some excerpts, and improvise on something fun. I then let them play it a bit. Their fascination with the instrument is always a joy to witness. Most of them never knew there was a pedalboard. Some thought the pipes are just decorative.
I believe that these brief sessions (which I also occasionally give to any interested church members) create an awareness and respect for the music of the church. And, the better educated our congregation is, the more supportive and appreciative they become.