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2024-2026

LAUNCH CAMPAIGN

Polyphony is interested in both the professional competencies and the personal well-being of each individual. We share strategies for resiliency and adaptability along with guidance for reimagining a way through challenges.

Current Projects

Professional Development Sessions

We host bimonthly virtual meetings for members and interested parties to build a professional learning community. The sessions include presentations on a relevant topic, resource sharing, networking in break-out rooms, and we conclude with a word of inspiration. Members share best practices, seek advice and address social issues stemming from the intersection of the secular world and sacred worship. Topics range from the practical (music selections for holidays, technology training and choral trends) to more thought-provoking subjects outside of the music realm, like social-emotional wellness and social issues.

Polyphony nurtures a holistic view and a desire to examine church music’s role in larger societal issues. One session that led to incredible dialogue discussed the appropriateness of white churches singing Black spirituals. M. Roger Holland II, Director of The Spirituals Project at the University of Denver, moderated the session in which participants shared their experiences and both sides of the topic were respectfully heard and debated. In sharing his own opinions, Holland, emphasizing he was speaking for himself and not an entire community, impressed upon the group that spirituals should be treated with the same care, reverence and practice as the classical music of Bach or Handel.

Annual Conference

Polyphony hosted its third annual conference in Rock Hill, South Carolina in February 2024 with almost 60 church musicians in attendance. The panel discussions, sessions, worship, fellowship and conference dinner at the award-winning restaurant, Kounter, were the right mix of inspiration and information as we explored our theme, The Call: Reclaiming Our Deep Passion. Through these events, participants found much-needed professional development, collegiality and encouragement.

The Harmony Project

Polyphony has an exciting research initiative which will provide data for future services the organization provides. The Harmony Project’s focus is interviewing church musicians using an assessment instrument of questions. The goal is to engage each church musician in this line of inquiry: “What do you need to thrive in the 2020s?”

 

Most ongoing studies on clergy wellness focus on senior pastors and ministers without emphasizing music ministers. This research fills a gap and will help us focus our efforts on what matters most to those who desire our services. This research initiative completed 100 interviews with the church musicians at the end of August 2023.

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Upcoming Initiatives

The next three years are critical to Polyphony as we work to build an organization that serves church musicians. We need time and funding to broaden our membership (from about 100 in 2021 to over 250 today), to expand our services and to develop sustainable funding relationships and income streams.

As a result of our research initiative and conversations with members we are discovering needs that we would like to address:

Creating a Culture of Call initiative

We have discovered that fewer and fewer students are enrolling in church music degree programs. If fewer students are training then churches will have even greater difficulty in filling open positions. We will learn more about the root causes of this decline and develop action steps our members can take to nurture the call in high school and college students.

Creating additional programs targeting the part-time or bi-vocational church musician

While many of our Polyphony members do serve churches in full-time roles, we are aware that due to financial constraints churches are increasingly filling church musician openings with part-time church musicians. These bi-vocational church musicians may come from positions as high school or college choral or band directors or are simply musically gifted people. So, programs must be designed around their schedules, meeting in the evenings or on weekends, and customized for the specific needs of this constituency.

Creating a network of mentor-coaches

The Harmony Project research initiative revealed that many church musicians are in fact quite isolated. Interviewers uniformly reported that in their conversations the interviewees felt seen and heard, acknowledged and affirmed in their work.

 

Polyphony will develop a team of mentor-coaches to regularly check in on members inquiring about their work and assuring them of our prayer support. Retired church musicians are an untapped asset who could fill these roles.

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