Course Descriptions

Our conference faculty have a variety of excellent sessions prepared for you! This year, you'll have the opportunity to participate in more classes and seminars than before and on your schedule!

Plus, additional sessions will be recorded and made available to all conferees to watch anytime!

* Indicates that a course or session can be counted for Continuing Education Units (CEUs)

+ Indicates that a course or session counts toward PAM Certification

Choral Masterclasses with Eric Nelson *+

I. "This is my Story, this is my Song."

Eric Nelson will be our host for this live interactive webinar given from the grounds at Montreat.

In it, we will explore the powerful and unique ways that choral music has touched us musically, socially, physically and spiritually. In this moment when we are not able to sing together, it is clearer than ever why we need singing--especially ensemble singing--in our lives. Attendees will have the opportunity to send their thoughts via text, which Eric will share and respond to.


II. "You can't play the game if you don't know the rules."

In this session, Eric will ask us to consider what rules govern effective choral singing. While singing gives us the chance to freely express our deepest feelings, there is still a lot to do while trying to sing together. Does following the choral "rules" limit our expression, or does it set us free to "play the game" better?


III. "Putting it together."

This session is intended primarily for those directors, pastors and organists who have a part in putting worship services together. No matter the size or music style of your congregation, nearly all worship services are a combination of music and spoken word. How do we get from one worship element to the next? Can each element enrich and enhance the other? How? Eric has thoughts.

Choral Masterclasses with Mark Patterson *+

I. Where Do We Go from Here?

What does our music ministry look like in the wake of Covid-19? How do we provide our singers with hope, connection, and some kind of musical experience while we are not able to hold ‘normal’ choir rehearsals? What do we need to communicate to pastors, church leadership, and choir members as we navigate the days ahead? There are no perfect solutions and there will be many different scenarios as we all try to answer these questions, but this session will attempt to offer a framework for fruitful discussion and future planning.


II. Meeting Our Realities: Choral Solutions for Youth Choirs

Those of us who work with youth choirs in the church setting often bemoan the realities that challenge us: small numbers of singers, imbalanced sections, over-committed teenagers, limited rehearsal time - on and on we could go! This session will focus on how we take the singers and the situations we do have and create meaningful musical excellence. Includes specific choral techniques and practical suggestions for improving your choir’s sound.


III. Composing and Arranging for Children’s Choirs and Youth Choirs

In this session Mark takes us inside the compositional process to talk specifically about writing for children’s choirs and youth choirs. We will preview In The Light of Hope, the anthem commissioned for the 50th anniversary of the Montreat Worship & Music Conference and look at some of the specific compositional dimensions of that work. Even if you are not interested in composing or arranging for your group, many of the insights offered here will prove to be very helpful when selecting successful repertoire for these age groups.


Choral Masterclasses with Victor Johnson *+


I. Where Do We Go from Here? PART II 

Part II-  A panel discussion led by Victor Johnson with Mark Patterson and Anne McNair continuing the conversation begun in Part I.


II. Mixed Bag of Choral Quick Fixes

Looking for fun, yet effective ideas for making your rehearsals more efficient and engaging? This session will focus on resources and tools you can use to work on breath control, tone, choral techniques, and much more in your choral rehearsal.


III. We Are Family

Diversity and Inclusion activities are simple and effective ways to get your singers talking and listening to one another. In this workshop, Johnson will share energizers, icebreakers and other team building activities to help build community within your rehearsals.




Choral Masterclasses with Anne McNair *+


I-IV: Sing a New Song

4 pre-recorded sessions for Children. Each lesson, 20-30 minutes, will introduce a song to Children that will be used in the rest of the curriculum (Children’s Art, Children’s Music w/ Mary Ibis.) These seminars also serve as seminars for music educators and choral directors on working with children, and count for both PAM Certification and Continuing Education Credit.


The Handbell Hour with David Harris *+

I. Starting a Handbell Program

A live session that includes answering your questions. 


II. Handbell Techniques from A-Z

We will look at a wide variety of handbell skills such as notation recognition and demonstration of all handbell techniques. All techniques will be demonstrated.


III. A "Socially Distant" Handbell Ensemble


IV. Making Excellent Handbell Rehearsals Happen 

A class that stresses how to have the most productive handbell rehearsals, also exploring elements of musicality.

Adult Bible Study: Witnesses in the Old Testament (Suzie Park) *+
The writers of Hebrews 12:1 urges the listener to persevere and take courage from the “great cloud of witnesses” that surround them. Considering that the writer runs through a list of Israel's ancestors in Hebrews 11, these witnesses likely consist of these famous Israelites. Oddly, however, though remembered as paragons of faith in Hebrew, these figures are not always portrayed as such in the Old Testament. This seminar will closely examine the stories of these characters in the Old Testament in order to discern how and why they differ from the ways in which they are remembered in the New Testament.


Art in the Liturgical Arc (Ann Laird Jones and Hannah Garrity) *+
We will create collaborative art of three dimensions in motion. Using fabrics, metals, and natural materials we will explore fundamental ideas about the practice of visual art in worship. particular, we will engage artistically in the process of planning the visual time and space of a service of Word and Sacrament.


Bearing Witness in the 21st Century (Ray Jones) *+
The Presbyterian Mission Agency is committed to the nurturing and equipping of congregations for ministry in the 21st Century. The lens through which we accomplish our work in partnership with mid-councils is the Matthew 25 vision, which has the following priorities: building congregational vitality, dismantling structural racism, and eradicating systemic poverty. The author of Hebrews provides a powerful context for ministry in recording that “we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1). During our time together, we will explore the life-changing connection between worship and justice. We are convinced that God simply needs the church to be the church in this time of rapid change.

Reading Sessions
Adult Choir Reading Session (Eric Nelson)

Senior High Choir Reading Session (Mark Patterson)

Middler Choir Reading Session (Victor Johnson)

Children’s Choir Reading Session (Anne McNair)

The Story Bible Curriculum for Children & the Role of Confirmation in the Church (Meg Rift)*+



The Presbyterian Association of Musicians believes that formative and collaborative experiences with God and neighbor nurture relationships and create community.


PAM is a national organization of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for people who are involved in the areas of worship, music, and the arts.




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