National Conference for Sacred Music

Register Here

January 4-6, 2017
Charlotte, NC

Leading the Church’s Song

Featuring Robert Hobby, Allen Hightower, Craig Mueller, Tom Shelton, Stephen Mitchell, and Mark Lawson.

National Conference for Sacred Music is a unique conference designed to provide the practicing church musician with fresh new ideas to help create a vital, growing music ministry. The emphasis of this conference is to provide a wide variety of new approaches to revitalize and reinvigorate the church’s passion for music in worship. Sessions will include the following:

  • New worship planning ideas for your congregation and choirs
  • Choral technique classes with an emphasis on deepening the spiritual experience for the choir member
  • Reading sessions featuring new publications from Augsburg Fortress, Hinshaw, and MorningStar Music
  • Sponsorship by three different denominational groups: the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, the Presbyterian Association of Musicians, and the Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts
  • Workshops for working with children
  • Handbells
  • Morning worship creatively crafted by Craig Mueller
  • Hymn Festival with Robert Hobby and Allen Hightower

Registration Fee for Entire Conference: $150
Registration Fee for Individual Days: $50
Meal Plan (includes Wednesday dinner, and Thursday and Friday lunches): $35

Hotel Information for NCSM

There are many hotels in the area. A block of rooms has been reserved at The Dunhill Hotel at a rate of $139 (Vintage Queen) or $159 (Deluxe Queen).

The Dunhill Hotel is located 2 blocks from First Presbyterian ChurchPlease call the hotel directly to reserve your room at 704-332-4141, and reference “National Conference for Sacred Music” to receive the conference rate. Or reserve online here. The conference rate is available Tuesday, January 3, through Friday, January 6. Be sure to reserve your room by Monday, December 12, 2016, in order to receive the conference rate.


Wednesday, January 4

2:00pm-3:00pm Registration; Browse Exhibits
3:00pm-3:15pm Welcome, Introduction and AnnouncementsSanctuary
3:15pm-4:30pm Opening Workshop: Ministry in a 24/7 WorldCraig Mueller
5:00pm-6:00pm Dinner (Part of Meal Plan)
6:15pm-7:15pm Workshops
Rehearsal for Friday Night Hymn FestivalAllen Hightower and Robert Hobby
Getting out of the RutTom Shelton
7:30pm-8:30pm Opening Worship Service with the NCSM Faculty
8:30pm Onward Social Gathering/Exhibits

Thursday, January 5

9:00am-9:30am Worship for the Twelfth Day of ChristmasCraig Mueller
9:45am-11:00am Workshops
The Role of Children’s Choirs in Sacred SpaceTom Shelton
Organ WorkshopRobert Hobby
Not Your Parents’ ChurchCraig Mueller
11:00am-11:30am Break
11:30am-12:30pm Reading Session 1: Multi PublisherTom Shelton
12:30pm-1:30pm Lunch (Part of Meal Plan)
1:45pm-2:55pm Workshops
Finding Deeper Connects: Text and EmotionAllen Hightower
Organ WorkshopRobert Hobby (repeat)
Handbells SessionMark Lawson
3:00pm-4:00pm Reading Session 2: Multi PublisherRobert Hobby
4:00pm-4:15pm Break
4:15pm-5:30pm Workshops
The Three R’s for Youth ChoirsStephen Mitchell
Not Your Parents’ ChurchCraig Mueller (repeat)
Rehearsal Techniques: Efficiency and HumanityAllen Hightower
5:30pm-6:30pm Friday Festival RehearsalAllen Hightower and Robert Hobby
6:30pm Onward Free Night

Friday, January 6

9:00am-9:30am Worship for EpiphanyCraig Mueller
9:40am-10:55am Workshops
Rehearsal Techniques: Efficiency and HumanityAllen Hightower (repeat)
HandbellsMark Lawson (repeat)
The Three R’s for Youth ChoirsStephen Mitchell (repeat)
10:55am-11:15am BreakVisit Exhibits
11:30am-12:30pm Reading Session 3: Multi PublisherAllen Hightower
12:30pm-2:00pm Lunch (Part of Meal Plan)Visit Exhibits
2:00pm Exhibits Close
2:00pm-3:00pm Workshops
SeasoningsRobert Hobby
Selecting Music for Youth ChoirsStephen Mitchell
3:15pm-4:30pm WorkshopAllen Hightower and Robert Hobby—Rehearsal for Hymn Festival
4:30pm-7:00pm Dinner on your own
7:00pm Hymn Festival with Allen Hightower and Robert Hobby

Workshop Descriptions

Not Your Parents’ ChurchCraig Mueller

Many churches are facing declining attendance and morale. Pastor Mueller will tell the story of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church’s redevelopment and growth. Located in Wrigleyvillea diverse, vibrant and somewhat hip neighborhood in Chicago. The church is populated with young adults in a transient and fluid time in their lives. Holy Trinity’s blend of traditional worship/music and progressive theology is both appropriate and surprising. Come and hear more about the congregation’s values of hospitality, inclusivity, liturgy, social justice, and spirituality, and what lessons there might be for the church of the future.

Ministry in a 24/7 WorldCraig Mueller

Most people say that they don’t have enough time. Church professionals often do not model healthy boundaries such as taking a day off or not checking work email constantly. Whether you or others on your staff struggle with workaholism, this workshop will look at the challenge of time in our digital world, and spiritual resources that provide balance, rest, and renewal.

The Three R’s for Youth ChoirsStephen Mitchell


Selecting Repertoire for Youth ChoirsStephen Mitchell

Check out some of the newest as well as best-selling youth choir repertoire.

Seasonings; Energize your Congregational SingingRobert Hobby

Using the hymnal, a variety of practical treatments will be used to illustrate how one can use resources at hand to enhance texts and styles of congregational song.   

Finding Deeper Connection: Text and EmotionAllen Hightower

This workshop will examine the relationship between text, musical expression, and emotion. We’ll explore how to draw singers into a deeper connection to the music and text that they sing. The result is a far more meaningful and satisfying experience for both singer and listener.

Rehearsal Techniques: Efficiency and HumanityAllen Hightower

We will explore both philosophy and techniques that relate to building community within the choir and trust between the conductor and choir. How can we work in a time efficient way and yet create a warm and welcoming atmosphere in our rehearsals?

Getting Out of the Rut; Ideas for Introducing New Music to Young SingersTom Shelton

We all have our individual teaching styles when introducing new music. Sometimes we lose our creativity, fall in a “rut” and introduce new songs the same way every time. This session will explore creative ways to introduce a new song to developing singers, focusing on multiple learning styles and musical literacy.

The Role of Children’s Choirs in Sacred SpaceTom Shelton

This session will introduce creative ways for the children’s choir to be “leaders” in worship versus “performers” in the worship service. Introits, Prayer Responses, Anthems Benediction Responses and other service music will be presented. The idea of “framing” will be discussed which allows the children to participate, lead, and be an integral part of the service – instead of becoming a performance slot or a “fill in the blank” anthem that does not enhance the worship experience.