Revitalizing Parish Music program visits Michigan, New York parishes

The Seminary’s Revitalizing Parish Music program, which offers custom-tailored educational sessions for parishes in their home settings, recently visited communities in New York and Michigan.

“I work with choirs that want to take their singing to the next level,” said Robin Freeman, Director of Music at the Seminary and founder and director of the program. “Parish musicians are volunteering to spend a day reflecting, learning, growing, and sharing. Their love for their community, for one another and their zeal to learn is evident.”

Freeman was invited to present weekend workshops at St. Gregory the Theologian Orthodox Church in Wappingers Falls, NY, and St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Grand Rapids, MI.

“The pastors of these parishes are responsive and are investing in their communities. They recognize the vital role music and musicians play in the liturgical life of their parishes,” Freeman added.

The flexibility of the program allows Freeman to collaborate with the pastor and musical leadership in the parish to address specific growth areas. In this way, each workshop is unique and built to meet the unique needs of the individuals in the community.

“When I teach, it’s not just about improving musical technique—things like breathing, vowel formation, intonation, and conducting skills—it’s also about connecting more deeply with the music and words that we sing.”

“But it’s not just work and no fun—it’s equally important to me that singers enjoy learning new things about music, themselves, and each other—which means a workshop also includes team-building exercises, good food, and laughter! Whether I’m working with singers or conductors, I always approach these workshops as a collaborative challenge—it’s not my way or the highway—I’m there to encourage and guide.”

Accompanying Freeman to Grand Rapids were two third-year seminarians, Zachariah Mandell and Phillip Ritchey.

“Teaching these workshops as a team enables us to break out into small groups and better meet the needs of sections and individual singers,” said Freeman. “For these students, such teaching experiences also help supplement their on-campus training, exposing them to trends in liturgical music in different areas of the country.”

For Freeman, the value of a workshop should last beyond the event itself.

“It’s important to me that musicians keep improving even after the workshop is over, so I try to provide the tools and lay a foundation for long-term growth. Priests and choir directors often tell me that their choirs continue to improve well after the workshop has ended.”

Revitalizing Parish Music visits can include half-day, full-day, and weekend workshops for parish musicians. Read a full description of the program, including sample sessions and workshops, and pricing options, here. To inquire about booking, please email Robin Freeman, director of music: robin@svots.edu.