Category Archives: Dean’s Message

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

Dean’s Message November 2020

Dear chapter members,

I invite you to attend our upcoming meeting on a composition topic!

Like improvisation, composition used to be an expected part of the organist/music director’s skill set. While most of us are not on the hook to write a cantata every week, brushing up on composition skills can help immensely in musical emergencies—much as a little improv practice is helpful when communion goes into extra innings, or the score to your postlude drops on the floor. Composition can also be a wonderful creative outlet, whether in the context of a church/synagogue job, or your own musical world.

Also, feel free to invite a friend or colleague you think might be interested. We’d love to let folks know what the guild is doing, and welcome them. See you on Nov 16!

Dean’s Message October 2020

Dear chapter members,

Despite this year’s scourges of disease, wildfire, and a less-than-civil presidential election—I still love fall. I love the changing leaves, brisk winds, butternut squash, and back-to-school supplies. And I love the feeling of a new beginning, with new things to learn.

In this time of social distancing, it’s hard to replicate the types of social gatherings and concert experiences we would normally be sharing as a guild. However, education can still happen! September’s program was a lovely presentation on Bach, with a virtual visit to the organ of Epiphany Parish, Seattle. This month’s program on 19th-century American organs promises to be fascinating as well. On the national level, AGO has greatly increased its online educational resources, including a sequential series of videos for the new organist—which might have a few tips for those of use who are not new. Click here to get started. And I hope to see you soon, at least on Zoom!

September Program Notes from the Dean

Dear chapter members,

I am so delighted that we are restarting our chapter programming this fall, albeit in an online format. I do so hope that you will be able to join in Monday’s program with Dr. Wyatt Smith. Please note that it’s a two-parter:

Two links will be provided in an announcement on Monday.
1) Use the first link to get to the prerecorded lecture/demo on YouTube.
2) Use the second link to attend a live Q & A on Zoom afterward.

The links will also be active in our web page calendar on Monday.

If you are a novice Zoomer, here are a few tips:

•Use the link provided—you will need the meeting id # and the password.
•There are different ways to view the other folks participating—look in the upper right hand corner of your screen for “gallery view”, which shows everyone involved, or “speaker view”, which enlarges the view of whoever’s speaking.
•For large meetings, it’s best if everyone mutes themselves to keep down background sound. Click on the little microphone icon, usually lower left hand corner.
•If you want to speak/ask a question—and we hope you will!—either unmute yourself to talk, or use the chat function to write in. The chat is in the middle of the function bar at the bottom of your screen, and looks like a cartoon thought bubble.

Hope to see you online Monday!

Subdean’s Message August 2020

Dear chapter members,

During this season of social distancing, most of us are trying to figure out ways to adapt much of our lives into an online modality. It is a challenge, both for individuals and for organizations!

I serve as organist & choirmaster at an Episcopal parish, where we’ve thankfully decided to live-stream rather than pre-record services. No video editing added to my “other duties as assigned”; I get to work with my (carefully spaced) staff singers; and I wear JEANS on Sunday mornings! However, as the months have rolled by, I’ve realized the need to strengthen the congregation’s connection with me, and with the organ. The rector and I settled on a series of “fireside chats”, featuring hymn preludes. I play the chorale, talk a bit about the structure of the prelude, then end with playing it in full. It has been a truly humbling experience; there is nothing like a one-shot take in front of a camera, with ad lib public speaking, to reduce my performing skills by 50%! However, the goal is connection, not perfection. That has been reached, and my efforts are appreciated. On my August to-do list: start memorizing repertoire…

The guild is also working on adapting. On the national level: if you missed the online Organfest, or want to revisit some performances, archived recordings are available. Also on the national website is this Covid 19 response page which has a wealth of resources for guild members, artists and teachers, and musicians in religious institutions.

On the chapter level, your board is working on ways to adapt chapter programs to an online format. Please save Monday, September 21st, for a recorded presentation from Dr. Wyatt Smith, followed by a live Q & A. And, we have a postponed election to take care of—please look for information on electronic voting next month. Here is the proposed slate:

  • Dean: Sheila Bristow
  • Sub-Dean: Cheryl Drewes
  • Secretary and Webmaster: Thomas Clark
  • Treasurer: Sandra Tietjen
  • Member at large: Michael Menne

Lastly, I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to our outgoing board member, Cooper Sherry. Cooper’s creativity, wit, and dab hand at hospitality have been a real asset to the chapter. The end of his term coincides nicely with a long-planned sabbatical sojourn to Holden Village. Cooper and his family will be living there in the mountains for six months, beginning in September. Thank you, Cooper, and congratulations!

Subdean’s Message July 2020

Dear chapter members,

We are in what my Episcopal rector calls “the new liturgical season of Covid-tide”. It’s a season of waiting—far longer than the four weeks of Advent! I hope that you are able to find some patience and growth during this time, and please know that the guild is still working behind the scenes to serve you. A few things to note this month:

Board Meeting Monday, July 13th, 7:00 PM

The Tacoma chapter board will be meeting (online) to discuss programming for next year and the postponed chapter election. Please contact me at if

  • you would like to attend (I’ll send the Zoom link)
  • you have programming ideas or needs
  • you have nominations for chapter leadership

Your input and suggestions are very welcome!

Online resources from AGO

The AGO national website has a lot of educational resources. One page you might not make it to is Chapter Leader Toolkits. There have been a number of meetings/presentations about current topics—online streaming in particular—and this page includes recordings of those meetings and supplementary materials.

Upcoming AGO Conventions

The 2020 National Convention in Atlanta, which was to have been next week, has been cancelled. For those who dream of travel, gatherings, and concerts: here are long-term dates, which don’t actually involve much travel!

  • 2021 West Region Convention: Portland, OR July 5-8
  • 2022 National Convention: Seattle, WA July 3-7