Nearly every pianist will, at some point, fill the role of a church pianist. Even if it is not a long-term arrangement, every pianist should be prepared to serve in this capacity by developing certain skills. Here are the top ten skills that my church music professional sister and I have found extremely beneficial to have in ministry.
The skill of:
1. Improvising from the hymnbook for supportive congregational accompaniments
2. Improvising from the hymnbook for supportive and artistic accompaniments for soloists and ensembles
3. Improvising from the hymnbook for solo work
4. Adapting improvisational styles to the emotions of the moment when playing solo, and even when not alone
5. Sight-reading choral music
6. Sight-reading from the hymnbook (and improvising while doing so)
7. Playing “Happy Birthday” from memory, or preferably by ear
8. Following a conductor through rehearsals and planned performances
9. Following a music director in congregational playing
10. Being able to play by ear in at least a general sense (hearing the basic I, IV, V chord progression necessary to playing basic songs by ear)
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Here is one of our favorite books of piano solos for church pianists-in-training. These arrangements are wonderful for supplementing classical studies while building a solid repertoire for ministry.
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||Bless the Lord Early-intermediate Piano Solos. Composed by Gina Sprunger. Sacred. SoundForth #256305. Published by SoundForth (S2.256305).
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