One of the major challenges sacred music publishers face today is getting their music promoted. There are many avenues for marketing. However, there are two that remain on top – the choral subscription programs that are sent to customers and choral reading sessions.
With that being said, the best of the two are the choral reading sessions… it’s the excitement and camaraderie, the opportunity to meet the writers and arrangers, the chance to sing with a room full of musicians, and the special times of worship that are so meaningful. The beauty of reading sessions is also experienced by the fact that the registrants are not in charge! If a microphone cue is missed, a track is skipping, the risers aren’t up straight, or other issues come about, the directors can just sit back and observe with no pressure to fix it.
I have led almost 1,000 reading sessions over my career. They have all been special with old friends and old friends yet to be.
I have been asked why leading reading sessions are so important to me. You see, I was a new Christian, a recent graduate of Michigan State University, and about to become a junior high band director. The church we attended in Grand Rapids asked if I would consider leading the choir. PANIC! I did not know where to start. I had never even sung in a choir before. And then one day, while at the church trying to organize, I saw a brochure (in the garbage can) for a national music conference sponsored by Singspiration at Calvin College. I was definitely intrigued.
I ended up going to the conference mostly out of curiosity. There were about 600 music ministers in the room. They handed out the first song, “When Morning Gilds the Skies,” directed by Harold De Cou. To this day, I can still take you to the seat I was in as that song washed over me. At that moment, on that day, I knew what my calling was. That was 40 years ago. A few years later, I retired from teaching and began my publishing career in sacred music. It has been a great journey, and I have been with Bill Gaither now for 33 years. I am so thankful I looked in that garbage can!
We are now in the summer reading sessions! I absolutely love working with and writing for my brothers and sisters in the church. I have found this to be true… the longer I serve Him, the sweeter He grows. Come join us this summer. We would love to minister to you, encourage you and share some wonderful music and worship. For our schedule, please contact LifeWay Worship at 800.436.3869.
Randy Vader is a best-selling composer and lyricist, Dove Award-winning producer, and with his wife Carol, the owner and CEO of PraiseGathering Music Group. In addition, he has recorded, produced and published over 1,000 choral pieces under the PraiseGathering, Gaither Music, Adoration, and Alpha Praise imprints. He has been a part of the Gaither Music family for 30 years and remains the creative producer with Bill Gaither for the world renowned Gaither Music catalogue.