Organ and Church Music at Wilfrid Laurier University
Faculty: Jan Overduin

Programs for Organists:
Honours Bachelor of Music (four years)
  • Church Music
  • Composition
  • Comprehensive
  • Music Education
  • Music History
  • Performance
  • Theory
Honours Bachelor of Music Therapy (four years)
Diploma in Performance (one year)

Teaching and Practice Organs
(all with first-class mechanical action, and available)

"We are in a struggle for the mind and soul of our culture" (James Moeser)


  1. No other musical post exists where a musician's creativity can find as much expression as in the the field of church music. Performing, composing, conducting, teaching--the possibilities are endless. Hymns, anthems, cantatas, concertos, oratorios, solos, organ concerts, even operas, film music, ballet, wedding and funeral music--they may all be taught, performed and composed, from the simplest to the most complex polytonal choral or instrumental pieces.



  3. Church music offers a unique opportunity for a musician to reach people from all walks of life with good performances of fine vocal and instrumental music. Millions of people gather each weekend for worship (more even than for sports). For probably 90% of these people, the only 'live' music they will ever hear is what they hear in places of worship.
  4. Church music involves training volunteer or (in some cases) professional or semi-professional choirs, orchestras, instrumental ensembles and vocal groups, soloists, and playing an instrument such as the organ (or piano). The director of music is responsible for the people's singing of the liturgy and hymns, directing the vocal and instrumental forces as needed, and playing, directing, composing music for all church services. The potential and the need are great for training leaders (known as Choir Directors, Organists, Directors of Music, Ministers of Music, Soloists etc.).
  5. Much of what goes on musically in churches is vulgar and cheap. The aim of the church music program at WLU is to revive cultural excellence in church music.

  1. WLU's emphasis on performance (live music making). Nothing can replace this, especially in the context of a church/synagogue service, influenced by the unpredictable (attendance, mood, liturgical year, local issues etc.)
  2. WLU's emphasis on improvisation. Live music making, spontaneity, reacting to the mood of a service, moving from one part to another within a service, unifying the service both musically and in mood: all are reasons for stressing the development of improvisational skills (as in WLU's music therapy, composition, and jazz programs). Oxford University Press publishes Jan Overduin's MAKING MUSIC--Improvisation for Organists, a textbook inspired by and written specifically for WLU students.
  3. WLU's close relationship with Waterloo Lutheran Seminary (on the same campus). Daily chapel services, other special services, relating with seminary students and professors. A great opportunity that is mutually beneficial.
  4. WLU's co-operation with Conrad Grebel College at the University of Waterloo. Additional courses in hymnology, worship, and theology. Where appropriate, cross registration is encouraged.
  5. WLU's Practicum Option. Students gain practical experience by working in a church, under supervision.
  6. WLU's Chapel Choir. This choir participates in seminary services, and services in other churches.
  7. WLU's Faculty resources: including Dr. Barrie Cabena and Prof. Jan Overduin, internationally recognized church musicians.
  8. WLU's physical resources. Five excellent tracker organs, and a chapel with very fine acoustics.



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