Category Archives: Dean’s Message

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

Dean’s Message October 2021

Dear chapter members,

This month it is wonderful to finally be able to celebrate the (cautious) return of live music! I am finding myself both exhausted and renewed by playing actual rehearsals and planning service music for actual people. I hope you are finding your own balance in these changing times, and encourage you to avail yourself of the calendar on the website to find ways to safely experience live organ music. Here’s a quick list of what’s on for October:

Oct 10: Organ Dedication Concert (Agnus Dei Lutheran Church, Gig Harbor)

Oct 18: Chapter Meeting (Wesley Homes, Des Moines)

Oct 22: Vierne Project (Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Olympia)

Oct 31: Organ Vespers (Epiphany Parish, Seattle)

Dean’s Message September 2021

I recently started serving as interim music director at a church where I’m an associate organist. The music director had left abruptly, and the music staff has been on edge because of that and some preceding months of frayed communications due to the pandemic. So, I organized a music staff meeting, and invited the pastor to address them and answer questions.

The pastor began by affirming that everyone is still employed, the music program is valued, and that “a beautiful space should have beautiful music”. He also hinted that in the future, the range of musical style in the program might be broadened. In some situations that might strike terror in the heart of an organist, but for this particular early music-focused program, it’s more of a question of life after Mozart. One of the staff asked, “So we could sing something written last week?” And he replied, “If it’s beautiful”.  

That answer can be seen as simplistic, but I love that it was free from dogma; free from treating music as a commodity to attract market segments; and free from lading music with the burden of addressing society’s ills. It’s very hard right now to advocate for beauty, and yet as musicians it’s our goal and our fuel.

Many folks are emerging from the pandemic’s enforced sabbatical with greater clarity on what is beautiful in their lives, and what beauty they would like to create. I hope this is true for you, and that we can all carry this newfound awareness into the times ahead.

In Beauty May I Walk
Navajo Prayer

In beauty may I walk.
All day long may I walk.
Through the returning seasons may I walk.

On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.
With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk.
With dew about my feet may I walk.

With beauty before me may I walk.
With beauty behind me may I walk.
With beauty below me may I walk.
With beauty above me may I walk.
With beauty all around me may I walk.

In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk.
In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk.
It is finished in beauty.
It is finished in beauty.

Dean’s Message August 2021

Dear chapter members,

I work for a variety of organizations who are all figuring out how to plan for 2021/22 during this still-uncertain time in public health. Some are tentatively reopening; some are planning to tentatively reopen; and some are firmly welcoming back in-person music. It’s a challenge to adapt to changing information and policies, particularly when the music is often run by and for groups of volunteers. They do not always pivot quickly!

One challenge at the Episcopal church where I am music director, is reminding folks that there are unvaccinated souls all around them—children under twelve. I am constantly on the lookout for useful language regarding mask policies, and I plan to appropriate a couple of sentences from a recent email from PLU’s Office of the President:

This week, the CDC, Gov. Jay Inslee, and the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department announced their recommendations that individuals who are vaccinated mask indoors in some circumstances to help mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant in Washington, including in Pierce County.

As community members concerned about our role in public health overall, we encourage vaccinated Lutes to follow this guidance and mask up whenever you are in public indoor spaces or are unaware of the vaccination status of those around you. Masks add another layer of protection to what vaccination has already given you, so whether youre vaccinated or not, masking up helps prevent transmission.

Your AGO board is fervently hoping to have in-person meetings this year, but of course it depends on public health guidelines. We have some great ideas for the program year, and will publicize them when we know for sure what is safe! For now: please save the date for a Welcome Back Picnic, in the lovely garden of David Dahl’s home in Parkland. I hope to see you on Monday, Sept 13th, between 4:30 and 7:30 PM. Until then—wishing a safe, and lovely, rest of the summer!

Dean’s Message July 2021

Dear chapter members,

For many organizations July is actually the beginning of a new year (at least for the budget). AGO has proclaimed this is the Year of the Young Organist, and I want to make sure you are aware of some opportunities—for yourself or for young organists in your circle.

On the national level, dues are free this year for new or renewing members under 30, and there are also a variety of programs throughout the year designed for young organists. More information is available at

Also, the AGO Committee on Pipe Organ Encounters is offering the first ever Virtual POE for teenagers. It’s from Sunday, July 18–Friday, July 23, and the registration deadline is July 5 (with a cost of $95). More information is available at

At the local level, Tacoma Chapter is sponsoring scholarships for students studying with TAGO members. Preference is given to young organists, but there is no age limit. Application materials include an essay, recording, and teacher recommendation. Those are due on August 1st. More information is available at

And, we are working on program planning which will reach out to younger members—of the guild or of the public. If you have ideas you’d like to be considered, please send me a note.

As we enter the summer season, I hope you are staying cool and safe during this unseasonable weather. As someone who grew up in this area, I never thought I’d complain about too much sunshine in June! With temperatures well over 100 last weekend, a friend suggested I drink Gatorade at my church jobs. I had thoughts of other beverages running through my head…but at work it’s ice water all the way. Cheers!

Dean’s Message June 2021

Dear chapter members,

As I look out my window at sunshine on this Memorial Day Weekend, it’s a great reminder that summer is coming. For organists, it is (hopefully) a season of renewal, when one can take time for some professional development work—and just take some time off.

Regarding professional development, congratulations to Erica Minneman for passing her Service Playing Exam with flying colors! It takes a lot of discipline to gear up for the exams, but she said the preparation was fruitful.

Two summer educational opportunities worth mentioning:

Oberlin College’s Organ Academy

Sweelinck Studies: June 14-19, 2021 and Summer Institute: June 20-25, 2021. More information is attached at the end of this article.

AGO’s Organfest 2021

As this summer’s regional conventions are cancelled, the guild is once again presenting a summer festival of concerts, June 27-July 2. There are also workshops and discussions.

And, at this close of the program year, I’d like to express my heartfelt thanks to the board for their service in this year+ of adaptation! In particular, Cheryl Drewes has been tenacious and creative in coordinating programming, and Tom Clark keeps the trains running on time. Onwards!