My church’s former worship leader and dear friend, Dr. Sarah Majorins, uses technology daily as she arranges music for groups, individuals, and churches remotely. Through her virtual company, Gloria Notes, she is able to create incredible custom worship music for any church, anywhere. I’m always amazed at how technology can enable people to be creative and serve God – Sarah is one of many doing just that.

Below is a brief Q&A to share with you how technology and talent can be paired to help churches customize worship for their members:

How do you work with churches remotely to arrange music for them?

Typically, the church begins by sending me an mp3 or a chart or just directions on what they would like arranged. For instance, someone may ask “I need an arrangement of “Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners” for piano, flute, violin and congregation. They may indicate a key or other specifics like a modulation or a flute intro. I then take what they’ve given me and create a score from scratch.

What software do you use to create your custom arrangements?

I use Finale, which is a powerful (and very popular) music notation software. In Finale there is a function which allows you to play a line into the program in real time (kind of like a recording). However, I never do it that way because it tends to be cumbersome and inaccurate. I always enter each musical line in manually, which gives me complete control of every note. The great thing about Finale is that each part can be played back to me alone, or with other parts—and I can program it so it actually sounds like its instrument. So I’m always listening as I write (or arrange).

Once the piece is created, how is it delivered?

When I have a rough draft of a piece I can save it as a MIDI, which is a “recording,” played by the program. It sounds pretty good, actually, and gives the person an idea of the sound. I will email a score and MIDI recording to the person and then they give me feedback. It works out great because usually there is a lot of back and forth over email about the style, length of the piece. Sometimes, if the other person is adept with Finale software, I send him/her the Finale score so that he/she can make edits on the score itself. Once everything is set I extract individual instrument parts from the score and send a score plus all vocal / instrument parts.

In addition to using powerful technology tools, Sarah also communicates quite a bit through email and phone interaction in order to deliver a score that is specific to an individual’s style and range.

Dr. Sarah Majorins is an arranger, music theorist, composer and Church musician. She writes and arranges all types of music, particularly music for use in church settings. Sarah was the music director of Christ Church (Santa Barbara, CA) for three years and then of Valley Springs Presbyterian Church (Roseville, CA) for seven. For the last two years she has served as orchestral arranger / composer for CityLife Church in Boston. She is a singer and pianist and is especially skilled at melding liturgical forms with music that is fresh and indigenous. For more about Sarah’s custom arrangements, please visit Gloria Notes.

Lauren Hunter is a freelance writer, church technology consultant (http://lhpr.net) and founder of the blog ChurchTechToday (http://ChurchTechToday.com), Technology for Today’s Church.