Convention provides time to mingle with musicians
This summer I had the pleasure of attending my first-ever national convention for pastoral musicians.
I’m sure it sounds like a big snooze fest to all the people reading this, but it was one of the best experiences of my life.
The convention was a week long, and featured literally hundreds of different workshops for musicians working in the Catholic church. But before I get into that, maybe I should explain how I got there.
I joined Selah Praise Band as a freshman in high school, mostly because I knew the members – my dad was, and still is, the drummer. I played the flute, so I figured why not? If nothing else, it would give me something to do during Sunday Mass.
I don’t think I ever could have been prepared for how much the band changed my life.
Selah is a contemporary Christian praise band based out of Our Lady of Peace church in Erie. We play the kind of stuff that gets stuck in your head really easily. We also cover a few of the tunes often heard on 106.3 WCTL – Erie’s Christian radio station.
The band has recorded three albums, and is currently working on a parish-wide CD fundraiser project, which will be used to raise money to better the church’s music space. We also play at the regular 9 a.m. Mass every Sunday, and do occasional concerts in the Erie area.
I met my best friends in Selah, but I also met my faith. Before I joined the band, I called myself Catholic, but I wasn’t entirely sure what I believed in. Now I know that this is who I am, and furthermore, it’s who I want to be.
So I went to the convention, which is held annually in July, and is in a different city every year. This year the destination was Pittsburgh.
Regardless of whether I go back in the years to come, I will never forget my first experience. Some of the highlights included meeting some of the musicians whose work Selah plays – an unreal experience itself – attending a youth retreat and taking part in a Taizé prayer service.
Most of The Knight’s readers probably wouldn’t recognize the names that were floating around the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, but to me these musicians are famous. I came across artists such as Bobby Fisher, Dan Schutte and Steve Angrisano, and had the opportunity to get to know Tony Alonso and Chris de Silva at a youth retreat.
Even if you have no idea who those people are, they’re big names to me. It’s the closest to fame I’ll ever get – besides that one time I met Adam Lambert, but he barely counts anymore.
More than the famous names, the retreat or the prayer services, though, the best part of the convention by far was the opportunity it gave me to be among my peers.
Pastoral musicians are my people, and the convention was our opportunity to discuss all the things no one at home understands.
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