Southwestern Seminary Dismantles Church Music Studies

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Southwestern Seminary Dismantles Church Music Studies

Postby Rvaughn » Sun Jun 23, 2019 8:30 pm

About ten years after Southern Seminary closed its School of Church Music, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Dismantles Its Church Music Studies.
Full-time faculty positions have been reduced from 11 to 5.

Personnel who oversaw the destruction of the Southern Seminary music program are being brought to Fort Worth to help them overhaul the Southwestern School of Church Music.
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Re: Southwestern Seminary Dismantles Church Music Studies

Postby Sandy » Mon Jun 24, 2019 10:18 pm

Long, long overdue. We are decades past the time that seminary church music departments heavily influenced the development of church music. The days of pipe organs, robed choirs and other cultural elements of professional, classical church music are long, long gone. It was a fad, a trend that had more staying power in the church because of the adjective "sacred" added in front of music. The style of music the seminary was teaching was developed out of the preferences of previous generations. Even when I was at Southwestern in the 1980's, students getting degrees in the school of church music were saying they were going to have to re-tool when they left because elements within the evangelical movement was pushing forward to a more contemporary, relatable style of music in worship than hymns accompanied by piano and organ.
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Re: Southwestern Seminary Dismantles Church Music Studies

Postby Dave Roberts » Tue Jun 25, 2019 5:33 am

Sandy wrote:Long, long overdue. We are decades past the time that seminary church music departments heavily influenced the development of church music. The days of pipe organs, robed choirs and other cultural elements of professional, classical church music are long, long gone. It was a fad, a trend that had more staying power in the church because of the adjective "sacred" added in front of music. The style of music the seminary was teaching was developed out of the preferences of previous generations. Even when I was at Southwestern in the 1980's, students getting degrees in the school of church music were saying they were going to have to re-tool when they left because elements within the evangelical movement was pushing forward to a more contemporary, relatable style of music in worship than hymns accompanied by piano and organ.


I'm disappointed in your cavalier dismissal of much of the heritage of Christian worship. I have been in two churches where they attracted people by the quality of their music program which was largely classical. People with music backgrounds joined there. Much of the death of organ music is not that it is irrelevant but that it has been poorly done. One of the worst things to happen to church music was the parade of Hammond organs bought by smaller churches and played like they were theater organs with mass amounts of tremelo. In one church I served, people stayed in their seats until the organist finished the postlude because they did not want to miss what would often be a climax of services. Of course, I'm in Virginia and not Texas.
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Re: Southwestern Seminary Dismantles Church Music Studies

Postby William Thornton » Tue Jun 25, 2019 7:33 am

I would stay for the postlude if it was sans seans on an organ. There's not many churches that want that. Maybe
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Re: Southwestern Seminary Dismantles Church Music Studies

Postby KeithE » Tue Jun 25, 2019 8:12 am

Dave Roberts wrote:
Sandy wrote:Long, long overdue. We are decades past the time that seminary church music departments heavily influenced the development of church music. The days of pipe organs, robed choirs and other cultural elements of professional, classical church music are long, long gone. It was a fad, a trend that had more staying power in the church because of the adjective "sacred" added in front of music. The style of music the seminary was teaching was developed out of the preferences of previous generations. Even when I was at Southwestern in the 1980's, students getting degrees in the school of church music were saying they were going to have to re-tool when they left because elements within the evangelical movement was pushing forward to a more contemporary, relatable style of music in worship than hymns accompanied by piano and organ.


I'm disappointed in your cavalier dismissal of much of the heritage of Christian worship. I have been in two churches where they attracted people by the quality of their music program which was largely classical. People with music backgrounds joined there.


Good classical church music (including choir, organ, piano, preludes/postludes, and recitals) are important to many in my church (not so much me). Contemporary music is important in other churches. Seminaries need to support training in both.
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Re: Southwestern Seminary Dismantles Church Music Studies

Postby Dave Roberts » Tue Jun 25, 2019 9:38 am

I suspect that the future of worship will involve more and more blended types of worship with both traditional and contemporary elements. In fact, that is what I hope is coming in the development of worship.
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Re: Southwestern Seminary Dismantles Church Music Studies

Postby Rvaughn » Tue Jun 25, 2019 10:30 am

Interesting to me is that Aigner's article and Sandy's comments suggest this is a result of the changes in contemporary church music (and they are probably right). On the other hand (though I can't be sure), it appears that Scott Aniol will be staying with the program. From the couple of times I've seen him and from what I've read on his blog, he doesn't seem to be any fan of progressive church music (praise bands, worship leaders, CCM, etc.). At least that is my take. I could be wrong.
Sandy wrote:Even when I was at Southwestern in the 1980's...
I suppose you knew Dr. Reynolds, then. It was from his son I first heard this news. In fact, I have not been able to find that Southwestern has put out much information about it at all.
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Re: Southwestern Seminary Dismantles Church Music Studies

Postby Haruo » Tue Jun 25, 2019 11:44 am

I'm currently indexing the the data from A Teaching Hymnal, a 2018 publication from Wipf & Stock, written/compiled for use in pastoral training courses at Fuller, for the Hymnary.com database.
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Re: Southwestern Seminary Dismantles Church Music Studies

Postby Haruo » Tue Jun 25, 2019 11:56 am

William Thornton wrote:I would stay for the postlude if it was sans seans on an organ. There's not many churches that want that. Maybe

What does "sans seans" mean, and how is the second word pronounced?
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Re: Southwestern Seminary Dismantles Church Music Studies

Postby Sandy » Tue Jun 25, 2019 12:03 pm

RVaughn wrote:I suppose you knew Dr. Reynolds, then. It was from his son I first heard this news.


He was my professor for the worship course required for all of the degree programs.

Personally, my worship preferences would include the pipe organ, robed choir and small orchestra, singing from a hymnal (All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name, All Creatures of Our God and King, The Church's One Foundation and "Oh The Deep Deep Love of Jesus in minor key being particular favorites) with a choir anthem right before the sermon. Next to that, a less formal, more toe tapping, hand clapping type of service with hymns like "Down at the Cross", "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms," and "At Calvary" would also be a personal preference. I'd say most Baptists past 60 would fall into one of those two categories. However, we are two generations down the road at least who have been raised with praise bands and more contemporary styles of music with less formality and more expressive, creative forms of worship that are just as sacred and just as personally engaging if you believe the purpose of worship leads you to an encounter with the Holy Spirit and involves a life transformation.

I don't see the seminary's job in teaching students about worship leadership is to put students in the churches for the purpose of shifting worship toward one style of music, but that it is to put students in positions of church worship leadership that bring congregations to an understanding about the purpose of worship and help lead them to fulfill that regardless of the musical style and culture they use. Worship is not just music and there's not one style of music that is more "sacred" than any other.
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Re: Southwestern Seminary Dismantles Church Music Studies

Postby William Thornton » Tue Jun 25, 2019 3:16 pm

Haruo wrote:
William Thornton wrote:I would stay for the postlude if it was sans seans on an organ. There's not many churches that want that. Maybe

What does "sans seans" mean, and how is the second word pronounced?


Total spelling butchery of one of my favorite composers: Camille Saint-Saëns
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Re: Southwestern Seminary Dismantles Church Music Studies

Postby Haruo » Tue Jun 25, 2019 9:12 pm

;) !
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Re: Southwestern Seminary Dismantles Church Music Studies

Postby Tim Bonney » Tue Jun 25, 2019 9:58 pm

Every Methodist local church I worked with got its music leadership from the local college or university. Some Methodist, some not. I don't see why a seminary degree is necessary for a church musician when music degrees and training are so available. My current Worship Arts Director is a graduate of Simpson College and University of South Dakota. My previous Choir Director in Sioux City was a Professor at Briar Cliff College.
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Re: Southwestern Seminary Dismantles Church Music Studies

Postby Dave Roberts » Wed Jun 26, 2019 7:22 am

Tim Bonney wrote:Every Methodist local church I worked with got its music leadership from the local college or university. Some Methodist, some not. I don't see why a seminary degree is necessary for a church musician when music degrees and training are so available. My current Worship Arts Director is a graduate of Simpson College and University of South Dakota. My previous Choir Director in Sioux City was a Professor at Briar Cliff College.


I think that totally depends on what is expected of the music leadership. I have worked with one graduate of SWBTS school of church music, and the church's expectation was that she would do other work in ministry and would have at least some limited theological knowledge. Actually, she didn't do much with that part of it, but it was expected. The other two full-time ministers of music with whom I worked both did not have seminary backgrounds. One was a graduate of Furman with a masters from Northwestern. The second was finishing his Doctorate though North Texas State. The expectations for the MCM degree were that most of the graduates would be doing combination positions in the churches/music and youth or Christian education, or administration, or senior adults. Staff restructurings I have seen in recent years have placed music more in a part-time situation using someone who either is a music teacher in schools or a private music teacher. That has certainly affected the market at least as much as has the change in musical styles.
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Re: Southwestern Seminary Dismantles Church Music Studies

Postby Tim Bonney » Wed Jun 26, 2019 7:59 am

Dave Roberts wrote:I think that totally depends on what is expected of the music leadership. I have worked with one graduate of SWBTS school of church music, and the church's expectation was that she would do other work in ministry and would have at least some limited theological knowledge. Actually, she didn't do much with that part of it, but it was expected. The other two full-time ministers of music with whom I worked both did not have seminary backgrounds. One was a graduate of Furman with a masters from Northwestern. The second was finishing his Doctorate though North Texas State. The expectations for the MCM degree were that most of the graduates would be doing combination positions in the churches/music and youth or Christian education, or administration, or senior adults. Staff restructurings I have seen in recent years have placed music more in a part-time situation using someone who either is a music teacher in schools or a private music teacher. That has certainly affected the market at least as much as has the change in musical styles.


I’ve not found using musicians as Christian Ed directors or youth directors to be very effective. They either tended to be good with youth or good with music, but not often both.

I am wondering, given all the music programs out there, if a seminary graduate in music has a good market to look for jobs in.

Are contemporary worship models covered in seminary or are these primarily people trained in traditional worship model with choral music?
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Re: Southwestern Seminary Dismantles Church Music Studies

Postby Sandy » Wed Jun 26, 2019 11:03 am

Timothy Bonney wrote:Are contemporary worship models covered in seminary or are these primarily people trained in traditional worship model with choral music?


That probably depends on the seminary. When I was at Southwestern, they realized that the typical SBC congregation, 120 in attendance, would not be likely to hire a seminary graduate with a church music degree to lead their worship so they focused the program on preparing leaders for the larger congregations. As I recall, contemporary forms of music and worship styles were anathema. Haven't been there for a while, but I would guess they still probably frown on contemporary worship, given the amount of money they raised to become an "all-steinway" school.

The job market for a classic, formal, traditional worship leader is more than likely much smaller now than it was thirty years ago. Even then, out of 5,000 students, I don't recall that the enrollment in the SCM was much more than 100.

Dave's comment that most churches who are looking for staff members are looking to have them do a combination of other things besides music. I would agree that seminary trained professional musicians and worship leaders don't do well as youth pastors or senior adult ministers, but there are a lot of people who work in the discipleship ministry field who have enough musical talent and knowledge to lead worship in church and do a good job. There are also some church members who may not be in vocational ministry, but learned enough music in high school or college choir or band that may also be able to lead worship either as a volunteer or part-time who could benefit from some formal training in worship leadership and music. My college alma mater offers a diploma program in worship leadership to students who might give some thought to putting their talent to use in the church they belong to if needed.
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Re: Southwestern Seminary Dismantles Church Music Studies

Postby Tim Bonney » Wed Jun 26, 2019 11:12 am

I just wondered Sandy. Honestly since I left the SBC I've heard almost nothing about seminary music degrees. I've been lucky to have professional musicians leading music in my last ABC church and all my UM congregations. But all of them received degrees in music from colleges or universities. Some are church affiliated schools but many not. We have full time music staff but only the larger UM churches in Iowa do.

Part of this may just be a different emphasis/polity. The mindset in both the ABC and UMC is that seminary is for pastors or other clergy and not so much for other church positions, maybe with the exception of Directors of CE.
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Re: Southwestern Seminary Dismantles Church Music Studies

Postby Haruo » Wed Jun 26, 2019 5:06 pm

;) !
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Re: Southwestern Seminary Dismantles Church Music Studies

Postby William Thornton » Wed Jun 26, 2019 5:38 pm

So... a fairly new church with the usual band and a few singers needs what is falsely called a part time "worship pastor" and has had a parade of possibilities. All have caps, unkempt under describes them all; shirttail, obese (don't know why this is the consistent pattern), generally making a poor presentation for worship of God on the Lord's Day.

So, I asked why...this is all we can find" was the answer. Nice guys. Maybe can sing, I'm not a good judge. Reminds me of a raucous night club in Memphis years ago where the owner put in a strict "no hat" policy. He said that totally cleaned up the crowd.

...but, my day is past.
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Re: Southwestern Seminary Dismantles Church Music Studies

Postby Tim Bonney » Thu Jun 27, 2019 4:41 pm

William Thornton wrote:So... a fairly new church with the usual band and a few singers needs what is falsely called a part time "worship pastor" and has had a parade of possibilities. All have caps, unkempt under describes them all; shirttail, obese (don't know why this is the consistent pattern), generally making a poor presentation for worship of God on the Lord's Day.

So, I asked why...this is all we can find" was the answer. Nice guys. Maybe can sing, I'm not a good judge. Reminds me of a raucous night club in Memphis years ago where the owner put in a strict "no hat" policy. He said that totally cleaned up the crowd.

...but, my day is past.


I’m careful to avoid calling a band leader, choir director, worship director a “worship pastor.” I’m the worship pastor as the pastor of the church. It also conflates worship into just music rather than worship being music, preaching, prayer, etc.
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