The Church Musician’s Planning Calendar

One of the difficulties in worship ministry is that as a leader, one must be rehearsing for the current season, preparing for the upcoming season, and planning for the seasons to come (I talk about that in more detail here). While we think it is normal, it seems strange to an outsider that we should be thinking about Christmas in, June, or Easter in September. There are good reasons, for this, of course.

Publishers Release Schedules

Most publishers release music throughout the year. Choral product, however, generally is released to take advantage of retail music store promotional schedules, which revolve around two prime promotional periods: summer and fall, and then, to a lesser extent, January to March. Christmas and general product is generally released from January to April in order to be promoted in the summer, and Easter product is generally released in the fall for fall and winter promotion.

Reading Session Crunch Time

The primary promotional vehicle for new church choral music is the reading session. Most reading sessions, whether sponsored by stores, denominations, or at annual gatherings of groups such as the American Guild of Organists, take place in the summer. There are also reading sessions in the winter, starting in January. The winter promotional season features gatherings of the American Choral Directors Association in February and/or March.

Planning Your Year

In an informal survey of Creator Magazine's editorial board, the most common planning schedule looks something like this:
• January ~ Schedule music for the period of Easter to Pentecost
• February/March ~ Listen to winter promotional mailings
• April/May ~ Schedule music for Pentecost to Labor Day
• June/July ~ Attend reading sessions and plan music for next year
• August ~ Schedule music for Labor Day to Christmas
• September/October ~ Listen to summer promotional mailings
• November/December Schedule music for Christmas to Easter

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