A little something about Will Berger as a musician
My church music life started early because my piano teacher, Mary Laurie Barbour, in Cleveland, Mississippi, was also the organist/choir director at the First Presbyterian Church. My father, also a pianist, convinced her to teach me. She had the qualifications, but had not ever taught, but he was determined to have someone who would, as he put it, "get me to love the piano," since I was already playing some.
Besides the usual lessons early on she involved me in playing for services, usually a prelude at the piano, but in time on hymns. She gave pointers on the organ so I could sometimes play there. By high school I was playing regularly at church, organ and piano.
When I got to Belhaven College in Jackson, Mississippi, studying music and religion, I became concert choir accompanist, and studied some with a very fine organist and accompanist, Bill Wymond, learned how to set up different pipe organs on choir tour for accompanying concerts. My piano teacher with whom I studied, Harrylin Sallis, was also my organ teacher.
Music stayed part of whatever I did even when I pastored. The first church I served in North Carolina put in a Rodgers instrument so I could play it for special services at Christmas and Easter. When Sally and I came to Franklin, the Historic Franklin Presbyterian Church, as a newly organized church, needed both preaching and music. So from 1993 to 2016, I served there as choir director, growing the choir from five members to over twenty members. Each year, the choir would sing anthems for the Lessons and Carols service, as well as the Tenebrae service, and on many other worship occasions. I also organized and played for the town carol sing, which is part of Dickens of a Christmas in Franklin.
I worked closely with the Schoenstein Organ company to design the first Schoenstein instrument in Tennessee (I quickly and haughtily remind people that the symphony hall instrument came later than ours!), which served the congregation from 2001 until now. I was the organist/choir director, but we also made a great deal of use of the piano. The Schoenstein instrument is a worship instrument, especially designed to lead hymn singing, and choral singing, and that remains where my church music interests lie.
Since Iíve lived in Franklin Iíve been accompanist at area high schools, most recently Brentwood High, am the annual accompanist for the Tennessee Arts Academy, and the backup accompanist for the Nashville Childrenís Chorus (when their regular accompanist, Crazy Kyle, is playing for Predators games!).
During the interim period after leaving Historic Franklin Presbyterian, I've been organist/pianist/choir director at Bellevue Presbyterian. Their worship is more varied than I had used before, but I like some variety in music choices found in the hymnbook and in choral literature. I've been there since March of 2017.
I'm happy to be working with the good folks of Trinity, many of whom I've known for many years, to whom some I'm related, and to whom one I'm married.