Do you want to put your flute performance degree to use? Consider learning how to get a church gig.
With the right strategies, you can increase the chances of landing a gig that you’ll want to do and that will pay you well. Then, you may even be able to get more gigs from the connections you’ve made.
Before we get into the tips, this post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy to learn more.
One of the best things you can do is tell others that you want to play a church gig or two. Let people know that you’re willing to perform and when, such as for a Sunday service, at weddings, or for other events.
If you know someone who works for a church, such as their music director, this can be particularly helpful. However, even if you just know churchgoers, they may give your name to their church.
That way, you might get called for a gig when someone needs a musician who plays your instrument. Now, this isn’t going to get you a gig right away, but it can be worth it in the long run.
Ask Your Teacher
Both in college and grad school, I got a church gig because of my flute professor at each school. While I didn’t ask them directly, you may want to ask your teacher if they know of any gigs.
Even if they don’t have gigs now, they might get some down the line. If they’re busy to do the gig, they might pass it on to you. Now, you may need to be a performance major for this.
It can also be hard if you’re in a larger, more competitive studio. But if you express interest, your professor might contact you first before other students.
Another thing you can do to get a church gig is to research churches in your area. I did this after college and managed to perform at one. Granted, it was an unpaid gig, but it was still good experience.
Researching churches gives you a bit more control. You can decide how far you’re willing to travel, for example. It’s also nice because you can learn if the church has the same beliefs or values as you.
The church I performed at between degrees shares many of my values. I’m not religious, but they care about social justice and similar topics. I didn’t know that at the time, but I’d definitely contact them again for more work.
Contact Local Churches
Once you find some churches, you’ll want to contact them. In your pitch, focus on how you can help them, rather than the other way around. Maybe you find on their website that they have a church band.
You don’t see any flutes, so you could ask if they need that position filled. Or you might also be a good singer, so you talk about joining the choir.
Of course, it can help if you’ve gone to the church in question. But even if you haven’t, you can connect over music. Then, you may have a better chance of getting a gig through that church.
When you contact churches, you can share recordings of your playing. To make this easier, start a social media page for your performances. You can do this with a YouTube channel or Instagram account.
That way, you don’t have to upload videos as attachments to your emails to churches. You can include a link to the video, which can come off as less spammy.
And you can use your social media to promote your performance services. If you want to use Instagram for this, I suggest taking the Instagram Marketing and Sales Academy to learn a whole in-depth strategy.
Focus on Sacred Music
Especially if you want to work as a church musician, you should focus most of your recordings on sacred music. That way, churches and other clients (like engaged couples) will be able to get to know your style.
Now, if you want to play at church weddings, you can also work in other classics or even some pop songs. However, you want to make sure you have a variety of sacred tunes under your fingers.
This can be especially helpful when it comes to getting a church gig around the holidays. If you know the music they tend to play, they won’t have to worry about you learning it.
When it comes to getting more than one church gig, you need to be consistent. You can’t just post your recordings once and be done. And you can’t just email one church and expect them to fill your schedule.
Set a schedule for recording and posting videos of yourself playing. Do the same when it comes to finding churches to work with. Then, you’ll increase the chances of someone saying yes and wanting to work with you.
It can be tempting to give up when you don’t see results. However, it can take time to see good results from your efforts. Make sure you push through that tough period to reach your goals.
Know Your Value
Maybe someone does get back to you and offers you a church gig. Before you accept it, consider if the gig is worth it. Think about how far you’ll have to travel and how long the gig is.
Some gigs won’t pay, or they’ll pay very little. It can be worth taking those gigs to get experience, especially if you’ll have the chance to network with music directors or church goers.
However, you have to decide if that’s worth it. If you have to drive an hour each way, for example, you probably want to get paid for that. On the other hand, if a church is just down the street, you can take that gig even if it pays a little less.
How Will You Get a Church Gig?
Getting a church gig isn’t easy, and getting multiple gigs is even harder. Be sure to consider a few steps to getting those gigs.
Tell your network that you want to play for churches. And then research churches that you can contact directly. Don’t forget to promote yourself and your music.
If you want to learn specific strategies for growing a business on Instagram, I highly recommend Nicole Riccardo’s Instagram Marketing and Sales Academy. I’ve gone through the course, and it’s helped me with my IG strategy.
2 thoughts on “How to Get a Church Gig as a Flute Player”
I’ve been part of music ministry for most of my flute playing life as a flutist and also as a music director/worship leader for over a decade.
I do agree that it’s definitely good experience regardless of pay, and also good to give churches your info in the case of weddings or special events which would be more likely as a source of extra income.
However, most churches don’t have paid musicians outside of the music director (and often even they are volunteers.) Typically this is because churches rely on donations to pay their bills, give to organizations and people in need, and pay the staff, so they don’t often have a lot to give, unless it’s a really large church.
Occasionally, such as during holidays, some churches have cantatas that involved full orchestras of paid musicians, but it’s pretty rare (I did that twice a year through college—being close to the university they could call on those musicians more easily, but churches without a nearby music school rarely have that option.)
Also, in my experience, a lot of churches—especially smaller ones—now rely on chord charts (lyrics with chords written where they go in relation to the lyrics) rather than orchestrations, though again some larger churches have the resources to source or create parts for orchestral instruments. I will say this is a good reason to know your arpeggios as the chords they represent as it helps with improvisation in these settings! (I grew up playing classical piano but not thinking about theory related to chords, so my music school flute studies quickly transferred that knowledge to piano and I can also easily lead songs playing chords, melodies and rhythms on piano while singing which led to over a decade of leading a music ministry in this capacity.)
Currently I play flute and whistles at a church and mostly improvise with the songs each week, occasionally writing out snippets of music that I’ve either composed or heard from a song’s recording when it fits well with our instrumentation and style.
Anyway, I hope that provides some helpful info in addition to your blog post. 🙂
Thank you for sharing!