Connie Gamage, UUMC Director of Music, Children’s Choir Director, Organist
“Unprecedented Times – Unprecedented Challenges”
October 6, 2020
My name is Connie Gamage. I am the Director of Music/Organist and Children’s Choir Director here at UUMC. I also work as a collaborative pianist in the choral conducting program in the MSU College of Music. In addition, I have worked as a music therapist at Sparrow Behavioral Health for the past 35 years.
Recently, as I prepared my sermon for September 27th, I considered the many priceless lessons from my parents. One lesson in resilience and problem-solving in particular, comes from my Dad. My father spent most of his career teaching mathematics and engineering classes at Alpena Community College. He remains the best teacher I know.
Whenever I had some difficulty with my homework, I was always welcome to approach him for assistance. His style of tutoring me was one of relentlessly searching for the best way to help me succeed in learning. If one approach failed to get the desired results, he would merely move on to a new approach. And it seemed that he never ran out of a new approach. And he never lost patience with me. I think what my dad most loved about teaching was the creative problem solving of matching the best approach with each pupil.
Since March, when our lives were turned on end by a global pandemic, I have been challenged in every aspect of my life to “think like my dad.” Nowhere has that been more relevant than here at UUMC. Within a very few days, we went from having live services to recording our first remote worship experience. There were certainly a few hiccups in that first attempt, so we problem-solved a new approach with Adam Zipple and we were on our way. I recorded music from my living room on my IPhone and learned to use the We Transfer site to send files to Adam. I got an IPad and learned to use it to download music so that there were no audible page turns. We recorded vocalists remotely in several different formats, making adjustments seemingly “on the fly.”
As we move into the next phase of waiting for a vaccine and growing impatient with online offerings, the UUMC staff and board continue to seek the next best way of reaching people during the pandemic.
Like many of you, I have had to make these adjustments in my personal life as well. I haven’t been able to see my elderly parents very often. Months will pass, and yet we talk on the phone daily and have occasional Zoom family gatherings. Who would have thought that would be a thing? I wish you could have seen my mom’s face the first time her children and grandchildren gathered on the screen for her 84th birthday.
The same is true in my long-distance relationship with my grandchildren in Arizona. I’ve only seen them once this year. I’ve only seen my son in Chicago twice this year.
In both cases, I will keep looking for ways to stay connected to them because those are the most important relationships to me.
My relationship with my church of 36 years, University United Methodist Church, is vital as well. That is why I will keep problem-solving new and better ways to connect with the worship and the people of UUMC.
I challenge you to do the same. We promised our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service and our witness. Nowhere in there does it say “only in person.” I hope that you will work with me and with the church to continue to support UUMC and participate in the life of the church in all of the ways available until we can be back together as a congregation in worship.
UUMC Director of Music, Children’s Choir Director, Organist
At University United Methodist Church, we affirm that as disciples of Jesus Christ, we are an open and inclusive congregation and welcome all persons into full participation regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic situation, age, ability, education, background and whether single or partnered.