Music and Music Education

Sing in a Choir

Senior Choir:

The Senior Choir sings virtually every Sunday in worship from September through early June, as well as during special services throughout the year. The group performs at a very high level and presents a great variety of challenging music. Each year we strike a balance of new music and older, more familiar pieces.

Previous experience singing in a choir is very helpful but not a requirement. Classes on basic choral technique, vocal health and music literacy are offered as needed to help newer members to improve their skills. The choir is fortunate to have several professional musicians in its ranks, who help other members learn their music more confidently and quickly.

Come to Rehearsal: Thursday evenings 7:30-9:15 pm in the Choir Room. No sign-up required, come as you are!

Youth Singers:

The Youth Singers (also known as the Shrewsbury Youth Singers) is one of the finest church youth choirs in central Massachusetts. Girls and boys, ranging in age from 9-17, perform September through early June at the weekly 9:30 am Sunday service with rehearsal beginning at 8:45 am. These youth gain confidence and poise, learn to read music, and have the opportunity to sing an extensive repertoire of sacred music, often in conjunction with the Senior Choir. In addition to weekly rehearsals, singers occasionally participate in other concerts including critically acclaimed performances in Mechanics Hall and Tuckerman Hall in Worcester as well as in Amherst, Holyoke and Shrewsbury.

Come to Rehearsal: Thursday evenings, 6:45 pm – 8:15 pm in the Choir Room (make-up/alternate rehearsal on Sundays at 11am). No sign-up required, come as you are!

Training Choir:

The Training Choir consists of boys and girls grades 2 through 4. No previous singing experience is necessary, and members who do not regularly attend our church are welcome. Weekly Sunday rehearsals focus on vocal development, reinforcing choral habits, reading music, and enjoyment of the choral experience. Throughout the year, the group is introduced to a variety of music styles and periods and will learn skills such as singing in parts. These young choristers begin to understand their importance to our worship by leading hymns or anthems approximately twice per month during the Sunday service. An extra singing opportunity– such as participating in a show or larger choral work– is often part of each choir season. The Training Choir is under the direction of Jennifer Shaw.

Come to Rehearsal: Sunday mornings, 11:00-11:45 am in the Choir Room. No sign-up required, come as you are!

Church Instrumental Opportunities:

Members of the church and community who play an instrument are invited to play in services and other special events, either as a soloist or in ensembles with other players. Contact us if you’re interested in playing: the more we know about your musical talents and abilities the more opportunities we can plan to use you in this way!

Our Instruments

The church is blessed with a collection of beautiful musical instruments. Here are some of our most important:

  • Casavant Frères, opus 2446, 1958, 3 manual, 27 ranks
  • J. W. Walker, 1996, 1 manual, 6 ranks
  • Steinway model “O” grand piano in excellent condition, as well as numerous other teaching and rehearsal pianos
  • Zuckermann harpsichord, one manual, 8’, 8’ & 4′
  • Schulmerich Handbells, 5 octaves
  • Malmark Handchimes, 1 set of 4 octaves, and a 2nd set of 3 octaves.

Handbell Choirs

The Handbell Choirs offer opportunities for musicians of all levels — beginners to experts — to make a “joyful noise” with either bells or chimes during the worship service. Beginning with the Chime Choir for children in Grades 2 through 4, and progressing to the Shrewsbury Ringers, our highest level handbell choir, members build on their musical experience and technique as they enjoy the comraderie and friendship of a small ensemble. The handbell choirs perform at various times throughout the year during services, and may participate in other activities, such as occasional “Pops” concerts and community events. The five-octave set of Schulmerich handbells were a gift to the church from the late Mrs. Helen Stolnacke in memory of her husband Carl and their sons, Robert and Alan. Currently the level of both Wednesday evening bell choirs is quite high and ringers often switch back and forth between the two groups, depending on the repertoire scheduled and the ringing dates involved. The weekly rehearsals times given below are subject to modification depending on the current ringing schedule. If you or a family member are interested in ringing in one of these bell or chime choirs, please contact the church office at office@fccsm.org.

“In the Bleak Midwinter” by the Shrewsbury Ringers

Shrewsbury Ringers

Wednesday evenings 6:15-7:30 pm

chimes for handbell choirsThe Shrewsbury Ringers is a 13-member ensemble of experienced English handbell ringers in residence for about 35 years at the First Congregational Church of Shrewsbury. A major component of the church’s music ministry, this bell choir has developed a reputation as one of the leading bell groups in the region. They perform once or twice a month during the regular season and at holiday services, and perform at occasional events in Worcester County, including the Boar’s Head Festival performed by the Master Singers of Worcester and other events at Mechanics Hall.

Parish Pealers

Wednesday evenings 7:30-8:30 pm, Sanctuary

The Parish Pealers is a second choir of experienced and intermediate level ringers, and was established in 2003. This choir has also performed at various events in the community, including the handbell festival Christmas concert at First Baptist Church in Worcester.

Primary Bells

Selected Sunday mornings 10:50-11:30 am, Sanctuary.

This intergenerational group has recently been started to offer an opportunity for folks with no previous experience to learn how to ring handbells. The choir is open to youth from 5th grade through high school as well as to adults who are interested in learning to ring, or improve their ringing skills if they have rung before! Parents and youth are encouraged and welcome to try this “team sport” together. Ringing is a great way to build team spirit, make some friends and play interesting music during the service. This new group will perform several times per year. The choir is directed by Tom Porter, a member of the Parish Pealers.

Chime Choir

Friday afternoons 3:45-4:30 pm, Chapel

Chime Choir is a musical experience for children in grades 2 through 4. Participants are from First Congregational and the local elementary community. Children learn basic techniques of rhythm and music reading, helping them in their vocal choirs, and since the techniques are similar to those required for handbells, Chime Choir (also sometimes called the “Chimers”) prepares these young musicians for future participation in Primary Bells.

The Chimers rehearse weekly, play at several church services throughout the year, and participate in a number of community performances, such as the Town Common Christmas Caroling and the Ice Cream Social.Boys and girls from 2nd grade to 4th grade are eligible to ring. (5th graders who have been Chimers are welcome to join us–we can always use great substitutes). New members are welcome to join throughout the year. If you have any questions, please call Elaine Shaw, director.

Bell Ensemble

Ringers may form smaller ensembles and rehearse when the sanctuary is available. Currently an ensemble meets on Wednesday evenings at 5:30 PM, and this group has been exploring repertoire for 2-5 ringers.

Other Musical Opportunities

Occasional Choir:

As its name suggests, the Occasional Choir provides an opportunity for adults, youth and children, grades 4 and up, to come together and prepare one or two pieces of music without the commitment to a regular choir schedule. Singing dates are designated for two or three Sundays in the year, and those who are interested will gather after Sunday services a few weeks in advance to rehearse. No choral experience is required.

Music Internship

We encourage the development of young musicians in our church and community. In a day and age when many churches suffer from dwindling numbers of adults with musical skills and experience, our church can make a difference! To that end, the Music Committee designates youth on a yearly basis for internships. Internships recognize musical excellence and foster youth leadership in the Music Ministry. Several interns have gone on to professional careers in music, and many continue to practice music in their lives well beyond their college days and into adulthood, often in church music. Most internships are in voice, but some interns have had a concentration in organ or piano and even trumpet. For more information, contact the church office or speak with the FCC Minister of Music.
New Dimensions: Music of Our Time album cover

New Dimensions: Music of Our Time – receive your complimentary copy, while supply lasts!

The newest church CD New Dimensions: Music of Our Time features a wide variety of music composed for the church within the last several decades, and offers a wide range of styles and genres, from handbell and piano selections to music for choirs, brass and organ. Now that the CD has been paid for, we’d like to move our excess inventory of the shelves and make it available to anyone who’d like to have a copy. (We still have several hundred CDs left!) Please let the office know if you’d like to receive your own complimentary copy, or would like to give a family member or a friend a CD as a gift. This recording makes a great gift or stocking stuffer for your family and friends!

Coming Up:

Dec
17
Sun
2017
Training Choir
Dec 17 @ 11:00 am – 11:45 am
Training Choir

The Training Choir consists of boys and girls grades 2 through 4. No previous singing experience is necessary, and members who do not regularly attend our church are welcome. Weekly Sunday rehearsals focus on vocal development, reinforcing choral habits, reading music, and enjoyment of the choral experience. Throughout the year, the group is introduced to a variety of music styles and periods and will learn skills such as singing in parts. These young choristers begin to understand their importance to our worship by leading hymns or anthems approximately twice per month during the Sunday service. An extra singing opportunity– such as participating in a show or larger choral work– is often part of each choir season. The Training Choir is under the direction of Jennifer Shaw.

Come to Rehearsal: Sunday mornings, 11:00-11:45 am in the Choir Room. No sign-up required, come as you are!

Dec
20
Wed
2017
Shrewsbury Ringers
Dec 20 @ 6:15 pm – 7:30 pm
Shrewsbury Ringers

The Shrewsbury Ringers is a 13-member ensemble of experienced English handbell ringers in residence for about 35 years at the First Congregational Church of Shrewsbury. A major component of the church’s music ministry, this bell choir has developed a reputation as one of the leading bell groups in the region. They perform once or twice a month during the regular season and at holiday services, and perform at occasional events in Worcester County, including the Boar’s Head Festival performed by the Master Singers of Worcester and other events at Mechanics Hall.

Wednesday evenings 6:15-7:30 pm

Parish Pealers
Dec 20 @ 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Parish Pealers

The Parish Pealers is a second choir of experienced and intermediate level ringers, and was established in 2003. This choir has also performed at various events in the community, including the handbell festival Christmas concert at First Baptist Church in Worcester.

Wednesday evenings 7:30-8:30 pm, Sanctuary

Dec
21
Thu
2017
Youth Singers Rehearsal
Dec 21 @ 6:45 pm – 8:15 pm

The Youth Singers (also known as the Shrewsbury Youth Singers) is one of the finest church youth choirs in central Massachusetts. Girls and boys, ranging in age from 9-17, perform September through early June at the weekly 9:30 am Sunday service with rehearsal beginning at 8:45 am. These youth gain confidence and poise, learn to read music, and have the opportunity to sing an extensive repertoire of sacred music, often in conjunction with the Senior Choir. In addition to weekly rehearsals, singers occasionally participate in other concerts including critically acclaimed performances in Mechanics Hall and Tuckerman Hall in Worcester as well as in Amherst, Holyoke and Shrewsbury.

Senior Choir Rehearsal
Dec 21 @ 7:30 pm – 9:15 pm
Senior Choir Rehearsal

The Senior Choir sings virtually every Sunday in worship from September through early June, as well as during special services throughout the year. The group performs at a very high level and presents a great variety of challenging music. Each year we strike a balance of new music and older, more familiar pieces.

Previous experience singing in a choir is very helpful but not a requirement. Classes on basic choral technique, vocal health and music literacy are offered as needed to help newer members to improve their skills. The choir is fortunate to have several professional musicians in its ranks, who help other members learn their music more confidently and quickly.

Come to Rehearsal: Thursday evenings 7:30-9:15 pm in the Choir Room. No sign-up required, come as you are!