After a number of quiet years locally, Emu Music is returning to Sydney with a bang in 2023 with a year-round training package for parishes.

Emu’s ministry director Philip Percival – who, along with Alannah Glover and Liv Chapman, spent seven years in the UK developing training resources for church musicians – says now the trio is back they are “very keen to help shape the culture of singing within Sydney evangelicalism”.

“There’s a lot a great music in churches but also a lot of people who feel, ‘We don’t have the resources’ or ‘We don’t have the people’ or ‘We just don’t know what to do’, and Emu is very keen to step into that space,” he says.

“It’s not about having a big, cool band out the front, it’s just about being able to lead people well.

We will talk to a church with a guitar and a flute as much as we will talk to a church that has a full band because, musically, there’s not a lot of difference in the principles. What’s more important to us is to start theologically and think, what’s important about singing in church? And, once you understand that, how you apply it with whatever resources you have.”

The parish package includes Emu’s online Word in Song course, a new website for service planning called Hymn Book, online video and song resources, Emu’s sheet music catalogue and tickets to its Word in Song conference. Parishes can also add extras such as in-house training workshops and coaching in music leadership.

The director of corporate worship for Christ Church Inner West, the Rev Richard Glover, says given that singing together is an important part of his congregation’s word ministry to each other, “it makes a lot of sense to invest in that area of our ministry”. 

“We have musicians who are very, very musically talented but who probably haven’t played much in a church context before and we also have people who have been serving at church for a long while but aren’t professional musicians,” he adds. “So, we want to help them all to continue to grow in their skills – not just with their instruments but in how they work together as a band, as a service to them and through them to our congregations.”

He is most enthusiastic about the in-person training, as well as the online course that can help train new members of the music team whenever they join. 

The Rev Troy Munns at St George North agrees, describing the six-part course as “very appealing”. 

“It’s biblical and practical material to help someone go from being a faithful church member to a church musician who’s keen and on board,” he says. “Having the resources that are well thought through and useful... that are ready at our disposal, is a good thing.

The other thing is the idea of a conference and how that contributes to a culture of fellowship within the music team

Mr Glover, who also chooses the songs for church each week, is especially looking forward to help from the Hymn Book website. “It sounds like a super-useful tool, to search for a relevant song for a particular passage or theme or season of the year... I can’t wait to see it, to be honest!”

As Emu kicks off the new training program Mr Percival couldn’t be more delighted – “but what’s even more exciting is the response we’re having from churches saying, ‘Yes please, we would love to have help!’”

Emu’s upcoming Word in Song conferences will be held at St Thomas’, North Sydney on March 4 and Grace West Anglican, Glenmore Park on March 25. For more information about the conference or the 2023 Church Training Program, email the team here.