Music Ministry Survey RESULTS! - Archived


The Music Ministry Team would like to extend a big mahalo to the 49 individuals who completed our survey. We want to give you a summary of the responses we received. The survey consisted of 17 questions across 6 categories. Here we go…

We had very good cross-section representation of respondents. In other words, while most (35%) of the respondents have been part of the church for more than 15 years, we also had a good showing in the other 3 categories of less than one year up to 15 years (20-25% each). The age group of respondents was primarily over 65 (67%), which is fairly consistent with the age range of those who regularly attend Sunday services. The other three categories were represented as well, with the exception of children. And finally, most of the respondents (65%) attend Sunday services every Sunday with another 18% attending 2-3 times per month. Only one respondent rarely attends Sunday services.

The first question proved to be a bit vague: 65% percent prefer a service with lots of music and 35% prefer a service with some music, but in the second question 78% like it just the way it is. So this means that regardless of whether you consider that we generally have “a lot of music” or “some music”, you like how it is. Another 16% would prefer more music.

Across the board respondents find all forms currently offered to be meaningful, with music by the Spirits and instrumental music having the strongest showing, but very closely followed by music by the choir and congregational singing. On the other hand, we had some interesting insights when it comes to the various styles and genres of music. Gospel/Spiritual music ranked the highest followed closely by classical and Hawaiian. Hymns also received a lot of support. And among the musical attributes, respondents highly value music that relates directly to the message and music that embraces a wide variety of musical types, styles and instrumentation. Professional quality instrumental music is also highly valued.

We are a congregation of singers with 84% indicating that they regularly sing and another 10% sometimes sing. And in addition to our UU hymns 94% of us love to sings songs from other sources. The sources listed pretty much covered the full range of possibilities and reflected the styles listed above with African American Spirituals and Gospel getting lots of mentions. Folk, pop, Broadway and traditional hymns were also prevalent. Several respondents said something to the effect of “familiar songs” or “something we can do well”.

In terms of music presented for listening only, music by the Spirits was the most highly ranked, but really, all of the options mostly received the highest ranking: Piano/instrumental music, Choir, Guest musicians, and Congregational musicians. When asked which instruments you would like to hear accompany us in Sunday worship, the 30 responses fell into two primary categories: rock/pop instruments (bass, drums, brass) and orchestral instruments (violin, cello, oboe). Other responses included African drums, mandolin, dulcimer, harpsichord, uke, banjo… Five expressed preference for live piano and acoustic instruments over pre-recorded tracks.

Over half of the respondents (53%) said they would be willing to sing or play during Sunday services. Turns out that nearly all of these are already involved in the Spirits or the choir or other occasional musical contributions.

Although 27% of respondents would not be interested in joining an adult choir, the rest provided excellent feedback regarding their preferences. In summary, aspiring choir singers would like to participate seasonally for special performances, would prefer if there were enough people participating so that they don’t feel exposed, and if there were some strong singers leading the way. They also may choose whether or not to participate based on the particular piece chosen.

Success in this area as most people (75%) can clearly see the images and words on the video screens and the rest can usually see them. Presumably this depends somewhat on where you sit and whether there is a column in the way or you are very far back. A majority 53% prefers having the music notation as well as the words for the songs we sing on the screen. Another 12% want notation sometimes (probably if the song is less familiar) and 22% have no preference. Most people (71%) would rather not use a hymnal and 18% have no preference leaving 10% who would prefer using a hymnal.

Twenty-five of the respondents provided additional comments, which were much appreciated. These comments fell into 4 categories: Gratitude for the music as it is (9), criticism of some part of the music (11), appreciation for the survey (3) and other (2). Respondents appreciated the offerings of music director Dennis Graue and the Spirits, the variety and quality of the music and the influence of Rev. T.J. FitzGerald in creating a cohesive package uniting music with the message of the day. Criticisms included quite a few who stated that the music is too loud, as well as comments that they would prefer less synthesized music (background tracks), more live piano, less amplification of voices. A few also mentioned that the “meditation” music is sometimes not meditative. Other comments included playing through the entire song once before singing it, and wanting more beautiful, peaceful, reverential music in general. The two comments I classified as “other” were in regard to having the music notation provided and one respondent who would prefer less music and more time to delve deeply into the topic at hand.

The Music Ministry team (Nan Kleiber, Leslie Horn, Dennis Graue and Beth Beyers) met with Rev. T.J. to review the survey results. Below are some steps we will be taking in response to the feedback.

At the moment this isn’t an issue as individuals have control of the volume on their Zoom device. When we return to worship in the sanctuary we will work with Stuart (our sound technician) on a better balance and lower overall volume level.

We will keep in mind the appreciation of certain types of music and strive to include classical (including David Davis and his cello!), Hawaiian and Gospel/Spirituals regularly in services. But overall, we will strive to find music that relates to and supports the message, the theme, the season or the day.

We will remember that most of you love to sing and will include music notation with the lyrics on the screens. We will endeavor to play through the melody of the song first when possible. We will place some hymnals on the welcome table for those of you who would prefer to have one and will also produce large-type versions of the order of service with large-type music included.

This is a tricky issue currently, which will take some further consideration. While we as musicians do understand what proper meditation music should be, we have a liturgical dilemma. We keep to a very consistent order of elements in our Sunday service. Those of you who attend regularly must know this order by heart. By virtue of its placement, the music after meditation is also the music before the sermon or message. Our Rev. T.J., who has such a deep connection to and vast knowledge of music often has a very specific idea of what he wants that song to be that sets up the sermon. This includes “where” he wants us to be when he begins—such as upbeat, happy, excited, laughing or perhaps introspective, calm, serious. Some sermons start from a very quiet, introspective place, while others, not so much. He often chooses music (or moves pieces already chosen for the service) that will prepare us for the sermon. So some thought will be given to how we accommodate both. But for now, know that whatever does happen in that spot whether it is actual meditative music or a lead in to the sermon, it is not chosen without intention.

We were hoping to start up monthly Taizé services in April, but put that plan on hold. If you were someone yearning for calm, beautiful, meditative music, this would certainly meet that need.

Well, we probably won’t be having choir for a while, but when we do, this feedback will be very helpful.

Thank you so much for taking the time to give us feedback. Please feel free to contact any of the members of the Music Ministry Team if you have any questions or requests.

Beth Beyers
on behalf of the Music Ministry Team

3 Responses to “Music Ministry Survey RESULTS! - Archived

  1. Good work. Thank you for doing this. Good idea of hymnals on the Greeters table. Why didn’t we think of this before? (palm on forehead here) I brag about music a lot!

  2. Good work. Thank you for doing this. Good idea of hymnals on the Greeters table. Why didn’t we think of this before? (palm on forehead here) I brag about our music a lot!

  3. I am hoping at least for a holiday song via zoom with kids. I sent Dennis a link to a fairly easy way to pre record if people are given a track. Kids need to do more and see more of us right now. Religion via music is a great alternative to class. I would love more famous people via you tube right now. We could even have Pete Seeger (RIP)!

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