As a classically trained musician I often find myself taking a deep breath after someone asks me what I do for a living. The question usually comes with the need to explain that I’m an organist- but not like you would think of when images of a funeral parlor or someone’s aging relative playing in a small country church flash into mind. It also doesn’t mean playing the kind of music that would accompany a villain tying someone to train tracks in a black and white movie.

Instead my goal as a musician is to find music that suits the people, the space and the event that it is intended for. I love listening to what people have in mind and then think how music can support and bring that to life.

I’ve had the privilege to be able to play for jazz groups, classical concerts, large funerals, small anniversary parties, solo organ recitals, and small support roles with a keyboard. In high school I also got to play clarinet and saxophone in band and in orchestra. I regularly accompany choirs and solo vocalists and enjoy figuring out the dynamics of the people and music that we are all being tasked to bring to life. I have also played in church band settings with professionals and volunteers and know what excellence and working quickly to compensate for unexpected “challenges” can look like.

As you begin planning your next event there is always a particular feeling or mood you have in mind. If it’s a wedding in a large church there is often a goal to have a beautiful and joyous event that completes the picture of sharing your wedding day with close friends and extended family. If it is a wedding anniversary reception it often means having music that brings back memories of the lives and the music two people have shared for many years. A classical recital can be a chance to show the audience things they might not have realized a violin or trumpet can do. A jazz combo in the corner of a restaurant wants to give elegance and fun to an evening out while not becoming a distraction to the diners. Having a few specific pieces in mind can help the musicians not only pick out those songs, but also make suggestions that you might not have initially considered that fit into the same style.

Whatever the mood or style, I would be honored to be able to discuss how music can make your next event even more memorable.

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*A native of Roanoke, Virginia, Steven Wooddell graduated from the North Carolina School of the Arts then earned his Bachelor of Music at the Cleveland Institute of Music with Todd Wilson, and his Master of Organ Performance at Southern Methodist University with Larry Palmer. Winner of the 1994 Regional AGO Young Organists Competition in Cincinnati, he was awarded recital appearances throughout Indiana and Ohio. Steven Wooddell is the accompanist for the choirs at Berry College where he also teaches music technology and organ. He also teaches organ and church music at Shorter University. He serves actively as an accompanist and performer in the area and in February joined the staff of Peachtree Presbyterian as the organist. He lives in Rome with his wife Joy and their three children.

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