Category Archives: Dean’s Message

Monthly dean’s message, shows up on front page under calendar

Dean’s Message June 2024

As I write my final dean’s message, I am filled with gratitude for the past two years: for the diligent work of a committed and caring board, the wonderful programs that emerged, and the encouragement shared every step of the way. That’s not all, though; my mind keeps turning to something deeper about the TAGO that I want to capture.

We are an active and uniquely supportive chapter, where one can learn, share, and grow, and where newcomers can find a warm welcome. What impresses me most is that our board leadership has intentionally cultivated this sense of community for decades upon decades. Friendships blossom, connections are made, and people feel at home. Thank you! to everyone who set TAGO on this path long ago. May we continue to walk it far into the future.

To my peeps on the board: Thank you for your enduring dedication, enthusiasm, collaboration, and so much more! Together, we have brought the chapter to another beginning, and are now ready for a new season. Thank you, as well, to those of you who presented or performed chapter programs, were part of a committee, or simply participated as a member. You all are truly appreciated.

As I retire to the board position of past-dean, I look forward to the leadership of our incoming dean, Wyatt Smith. Of all the projects he initiated while sub-dean, the most significant has been our outreach to young organists, including “Bach Rediscovered,” at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Tacoma, and “Young Organists’ Event,” at Lagerquist Concert Hall. Wyatt brings imagination, enthusiasm, and a fresh perspective. Please give him all your support in the new term.

Also note! We will vote in our new board members and give our thanks and appreciation to outgoing members at our Year-End Chapter Gathering, a potluck picnic hosted by Wyatt Smith, 8703 71st Street CT SW, Lakewood, on Wednesday, June 12, from 4:30pm-7:30pm.
For another look at the slate of candidates, see here. The chapter will provide drinks; please bring something to share, and enjoy the company!


Dean’s Message May 2024

Kudos! to Wyatt Smith, for organizing and leading us in a fascinating exploration of The Oxford Book of Organ Music by Women Composers, curated by Anne Marsden Thomas, and Ghislaine Reece-Trapp. A huge thanks, as well, to Sheila Bristow and Tim Drewes, for joining Wyatt and me in a demonstration of nine pieces from this monumental volume, spanning the Baroque to the present time. It was wonderful to see everyone who attended fully engaged, with many questions and insights offered about the composers and the circumstances that prevented them from becoming known for their work. The conversation continued during the open console that followed, as people tried out additional compositions of interest. From the lively discussion, questions emerged. What works of genius have we lost due to societal bias and consequent lack of opportunity and support? What progress has been made since then? Do we still have a long way to go? Food for thought for all of us who perform, compose, teach, and simply enjoy music.

Looking ahead, we are excited about our field trip to attend an Organ Master Class, given by Dr. Stephen Price, at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, Bainbridge Island, on Saturday, May 25, from 10:00am-12:00pm. This event is a program of the Olympic Peninsula AGO, featuring scholarship recipients from their chapter. What a perfect opportunity to get to know our neighbors!

Following the masterclass, some of us will head over to the nearby Bloedel Reserve for a garden tour. We will meet there at 1:30pm. You are most welcome to join us! Please see the event listing for important information, including how to purchase tickets for the timed entry. Note that tickets tend to sell out fast on the weekends (though are still available as of this writing).

Finally, please mark your calendar for our Year-End Chapter Gathering, for a potluck picnic and social time at the home of Wyatt Smith, 8703 71st Street CT SW, Lakewood, on Wednesday, June 12, from 4:30pm-7:30pm. Please bring something to share – the chapter will provide drinks – and enjoy the company. At this event, we will also vote in our new board members and give our thanks and appreciation to outgoing members. Hope to see you there!



Dean’s Message April 2024

We are now beginning the process of electing new members to the TAGO board, whose term commences on July 1st. Members of the nominating committee are Van Hardison, Nancy Ferree-Clark, Paul Tegels, Wyatt Smith, and me. We will have our initial meeting during the second or third week of April, when we will seek out potential board member candidates. Three key dates in the process to keep in mind: 1) Our membership will have at least 30 days to review the slate of candidates, approved by the current board, beginning on May 12th. 2) Our members will vote on the slate of candidates at our June 12th chapter meeting, a picnic at Wyatt’s house, details coming soon. 3) On July 1st, another great year of board leadership begins!

I regularly hear the TAGO described as welcoming, supportive, imaginative, and enthusiastic. Given my board experience (since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020!), I would also add, dedicated and loyal. I invite you to consider serving on the board, among true colleagues and friends. As you reflect on this idea, take a moment to scroll through the TAGO website to see how vibrant our chapter has been throughout the decades, and to this very day. Website articles and Dean’s Messages date back to 2016, revealing a plethora of opportunities for learning, collaboration, and friendship. If you would like to be a board member candidate, please contact me at

Looking ahead:

Wyatt Smith will lead us in an exploration of The Oxford Book of Organ Music by Women Composers, Saturday, April 27, 9:30am-12:00pm, at St. Luke’s Memorial Episcopal Church, Tacoma. Coffee and refreshments will be served at 9:30am, followed by the presentation at 10:00am, and open console at 11:00am. We hope you can join us in a closer look at this substantial new resource, including its use for preludes, offerings, and postludes.

Also note our next TAGO Lunch, Friday, April 26, 12:00pm-1:30pm, at Cactus, 2506 North Proctor Street, Tacoma. Join us for great food and conversation!



Dean’s Message March 2024

Three funerals and two baptism services in four weeks’ time gave me pause for reflection. The stories of the dear departed were poignant, full of love, sorrow, humor, and wisdom. And for the baptized, there was the joy of wonder and promise. Love Divine, All Loves Excelling…It is Well with My Soul…Be Thou My Vision. At least two out of three of these hymns were included in each of the five services, and all were gloriously sung. Coincidental, or is there more to this?

As church musicians, we are blessed with the call to carry the congregational song, which not only carries the moment, but also the life-long journey. And we have a journey of our own – that is, to make the hymn compelling. For me, when things are going right, I can hear, even feel, the reciprocal energy of the congregation moved to sing with conviction. Sometimes I’ve soloed out a verse, thickened or changed the harmonies, or even backed way off for an a cappella experience. The techniques are myriad, but intention is what really counts.

The hymn is ubiquitous in our work, but it is all too easy to lose sight of the familiar – kind of like losing the forest for the trees. Preparing hymns takes time – a lot of it. Dr. Mel Butler, at a memorable TAGO hymn-leading workshop a few years ago, said that he spends more time practicing the hymns than preludes, offerings, and postludes combined. He demonstrated how to construct hymn interpretations, including the use of accessible approaches. One need not be a virtuoso improvisor. Much of the time, just a well-placed tweak here or there will do, and it is always okay to write it down. So be encouraged! May we be inspired to bring the hymn alive, such that a community of faith can fully exclaim, “How can I keep from Singing?”

Looking ahead, we are excited about our next chapter meeting, exploring The Oxford Book of Organ Music by Women Composers, Saturday, April 27, at St. Luke’s Memorial Episcopal Church, Tacoma. We will begin at 9:30am with coffee and refreshments, followed by the presentation at 10:00am, and open console at 11:30am. We hope you can join us for this fine opportunity of discovery!

Also, we are planning events for May and June to round out a wonderful year of programming. Stay tuned for details. My heartfelt thanks, as always, to the board, presenters, and members who make our chapter a place of warm support, vibrant ideas, educational opportunities, and friendship!


Dean’s Message February 2024

Sometimes sage words bring a comforting perspective. Consider this recollection from my friend, an organist and retired piano teacher:

I once had a studio of bright, talented kids, enthusiastic adults, and a struggling few who failed to show any musical proficiency. I remember a girl of eleven years, gawky and large for her age, withdrawn and frequently apologetic, who was, frankly, bereft of any signs of musical aptitude. I couldn’t make headway with the poor girl and found myself hoping that she would become frustrated and quit. She never did. Week after week, we plodded through the same material, and I began to dread her lesson days.

Years later, I ran into her mother at a grocery store. After thanking me profusely, she told me that her daughter had come into her own, was headed to college on scholarship, and still enjoyed playing piano every day! It was the lessons, she told me, that helped her daughter grow in self-esteem, and feel some sense of accomplishment during that awkward period in her life. I was both shocked and humbled. Though a professional musician that young girl would never be, music lessons sustained her through a critical time, and allowed her to blossom. As they say, one never knows!”

Music educators and church musicians alike are sure to encounter the mystery of unknowing. What to make of the perennial, underachieving student, or the impassive though faithful choir member? How reassuring it is to realize that our presence matters, even when not apparent to us at the time. Thanks, my friend, for sharing!

Looking ahead, we are excited about our next chapter field trip to attend “Hallock at 100” at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, Seattle, on February 24 and 25. A few of us will be at the Sunday afternoon performance, and I highly encourage you to attend whichever date works best for you. Peter Hallock was such a huge influence in the Seattle area and well beyond. His legacy literally sings on!

Also, remember that there is no chapter meeting in March, giving us all a break during the hectic season of Lent through Easter. Instead, look forward to events in April and beyond.