When I first started the job, I was frankly happy to have a steady source of income, even if it was only a quarter time position. While I enjoyed being with the people at Northwest, I have to admit that I looked on it as a steady gig. I felt that my job was to come in twice a week, do my "music thing," and then make myself scarce. I felt that the music program was a separate entity – a self contained little bubble within Northwest.
That sense of separation began to dissolve in my second year, when Terry Davis became our minister. She brought a sense of inclusiveness, openness, and energy that had been lacking. Music became more integrated into the Northwest experience as Terry consulted with the staff to plan services. I began to become more than "the music guy." I was playing my part in a supportive team. Terry also helped me realize the impact that my role has on the church, and in particular on the choir members. Being a secular humanist, I had never thought that my music program was a ministry, but I learned otherwise. (And for those of you who are wondering how a godless heathen such as myself could be a music director at a church, I invite you to visit www.uua.org and read up on Unitarian Universalism.)
It wasn't until this past year that I began to feel like I was, indeed, the actual Director of Music at Northwest UUC. It began to feel real. For the first two years, I felt like my job was to keep a steady hand on the wheel and keep the music going through some staff changes (new music director the first year, new minister the second year). In this third year, I began to put my own stamp on the music program, most notably with the launching of a contemporary band. This band, which has yet to be named, was a popular addition right from the start, and then it kept getting better and better. Also, after struggling with sound issues for years, we finally managed to update our sound system, thanks in large part to the expertise of Bob Bakert, who is not a member of Northwest, but hosts the Hungry Ear Coffee House show that Northwest puts on every month.
Even where I have met challenges, I feel like I'm growing into my role. I had some difficulty starting a children's choir this year. (More on children's choir in a future article.) Even where I have faltered, I have continued to enjoy the support of the staff and the congregation. Rather than giving up on a children's music program because of a rocky first year, they have offered advice and support, and we have a new plan for children's music in the coming church year.
As each year passes, I am more and more grateful for this job. It started off as a gig, but it has become so much more.