The Church Musician Primer by Ashley Danyew

The Church Musician Primer

An online keyboard skills class for church pianists and organists

Music school is great, but if you want to be a church musician in the 21st century, there are lots of things you're left to figure out on your own.

Some skills simply aren't taught in most schools or private studios. This includes:

  • playing and singing or playing and conducting at the same time
  • accompanying and supporting choral and congregational singing
  • harmonizing melodies (with and without chord symbols)
  • finding cadence points and vamping in the moment
  • creating modulations and transposing at sight
  • improvising transitions and creating musical underscores
  • playing 5-finger patterns in all 24 keys (12 major, 12 minor)

And the list goes on. Where do you start? How do you learn and develop these skills?

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Welcome to the Church Musician Primer, an online keyboard skills courses for church pianists and organists.

Whether you lead a small congregation in one service on Sunday mornings or play for three services a week, including a contemporary service with a praise band...

This course will help you develop valuable sight-reading, score-reading, and harmonizing skills; play and accompany hymns, anthems, and contemporary songs creatively and confidently; and give you the tools and resources you need to lead and support choral and congregational singing in a variety of worship settings.

You'll Learn How to:

  • develop skills in sight-reading and score-reading;
  • develop critical listening skills by evaluating music aurally and working
    without notation
  • foster basic accompanying skills by learning to simplify and knowing what
    to leave out;
  • build coordination: play/sing, play/conduct, play standing up, play/direct
    with breath cues;
  • harmonize simple melodies (with and without chord symbols); and
  • develop creativity through composition and improvisation activities.
Buy for $99

What's Inside:

The video lessons and course materials are divided up into four modules, released over four weeks. The first module will be available immediately.

P.S. Want to take the fast track? Email me for instant access to the full course.
"This course contains many helpful hints and tips for keyboardists of any experience level, and is presented in a way that is simple and easy to understand. I also love having the . . . modules divided into subtopics for easy review, and all the extra resources and links Ashley provides. This course is an excellent way to hone and develop your skills as a pastoral musician."

Our Course Curriculum:

Module 1: Accompanying

We'll start with some choral accompanying basics like playing warm-ups, reading open score, and providing support for singing/knowing when to drop out. Then, we'll take a look at accompanying in worship - from learning how to cadence to playing for communion to playing "traveling music."

Module 2: Creative Musicianship

In Module 2, we'll explore creative hymn-playing and creativity in worship, including introductions, learning how and when to breathe (for cues), providing support for congregational singing, and creating your own harmonizations, modulations, and transitions.

Module 3: Contemporary Music Skills

In this module, we'll talk mostly about contemporary music and contemporary worship. Topics will include playing chords, how to read lead sheets and chord charts, how to harmonize a melody, creating flow, playing with a band, underscoring prayers and readings, and how to introduce contemporary music/teach a new song to your congregation.

Module 4: Planning & Preparing

This final module will be devoted to planning and preparing for worship: choosing service music (prelude/postlude, offertory, responses, etc.), choral music (anthem, introit, responses, etc.), and transition music; preparing for rehearsals, practicing, and what to include in the bulletin.

Course Schedule

Module 1 - available immediately
Module 2 - available 7 days in
Module 3
- available 14 days in
Module 4 - available 21 days in

P.S. Want to take the fast track? Email me for instant access to the full course.
Buy for $99

Hi, I'm Ashley Danyew

Church musician and music educator based in Rochester, NY. My mission is to help church musicians and teachers like you lead, teach, and inspire others creatively and confidently.

I have a Ph.D. in Music Education and a Certificate in Arts Leadership from the Eastman School of Music and over 15 years of church music experience, including accompanying services on the piano and organ, starting and directing children's, adult, and handbell adult choirs, planning worship, and overseeing a music program.

I can't wait to share what I know and help you develop the key skills you need to play and lead with creativity and confidence. Excited to meet you inside the course!

What's included?

Video Icon 27 videos File Icon 6 files Text Icon 3 text files


Welcome Message
Welcome + Introduction
3 mins
Module 1
Welcome to Module 1
2 mins
1.1 Introduction
2 mins
1.2 Part 1 - Choral Accompanying
4 mins
1.3 Developing Awareness
3 mins
1.4 Part 2 - Accompanying in Worship
8 mins
1.5 Playing Traveling Music
3 mins
1.6 Keyboard Skills Project 1
2 mins
Module 1 Workbook
1.84 MB
Bonus Challenge
Module 2
Welcome to Module 2
2 mins
2.1 Introduction
2 mins
2.2 Part 1 - Creative Hymn-Playing
9 mins
2.3 Using Interludes and Harmonizations
8 mins
2.4 Part 2 - Creativity in Worship
9 mins
2.5 Keyboard Skills Project 2
2 mins
Module 2 Workbook
3.4 MB
Module 3
Welcome to Module 3
2 mins
3.1 Introduction
2 mins
3.2 Part 1 - Contemporary Music
7 mins
3.3 Reading Chord Symbols, Lead Sheets, and Chord Charts
8 mins
3.4 Part 2 - Contemporary Worship
9 mins
3.5 Teaching a New Song or Hymn
4 mins
3.6 Keyboard Skills Project 3
2 mins
Module 3 Workbook
1.2 MB
Bonus Challenge
Module 4
Welcome to Module 4
2 mins
4.1 Introduction
3 mins
4.2 Part 1 - Planning Music
10 mins
4.3 Part 2 - Preparing for Worship
8 mins
4.4 My Favorite Resources
4 mins
4.5 Keyboard Skills Project 4
3 mins
Module 4 Workbook
14.6 MB
Church Music Database (Excel)
499 KB
Church Music Database (Numbers)
195 KB

Creative ideas and resources for church musicians + music educators

Practical tools to help you lead + teach with confidence


Where is this course taught?

This course is taught exclusively online. Access the content 24/7, wherever you go, from any device.

How much time does it take to complete?

You can complete the course in as little as four weeks (one module per week). You'll have access to the first module immediately after signing up. Each module includes roughly 30 minutes of video and a corresponding keyboard skills project for you to practice on your own. I recommend setting aside about an hour per day for practicing. 

That being said, the course is completely self-paced, so start whenever you're ready, set a schedule that works for you, and learn at your own pace.

What level is this course?

This course is geared toward those with some playing and/or accompanying experience and basic knowledge of music theory. I consider this a college-level course, building on the playing, reading, and musicianship skills you developed in private lessons and/or through experience in the field and theoretical knowledge gained from high school-level music theory courses.

What if it doesn't work for me?

That’s what the refund policy is for. 🙂

If you decide the course isn’t for you, please email me within 5 days of purchase for a 75% refund. After this point, all course enrollment fees are non-refundable.

What if I have other questions?

Please feel free to reach out to me directly at I'd be happy to answer your questions!