Sabbaticals for Church Musicians

We all need a break from time to time - more than just a "vacation" - a break to recharge and refresh, reflect on life, music, the arts, the soul, and perhaps a course of study or research or a project. Rarely do church musicians request, much less follow through, to take a sabbatical. This article is meant to help inform you of possibilities, real examples, and how to go about making an effective and satisfying sabbatical happen. Some high-profile musicians find it easy to make connections and convince their boss to give them a sabbatical; but how does the smaller-church musician, especially part-time, go about this intimidating concept of a sabbatical?

Definition from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A sabbatical (from the Latin sabbaticus, from the Greek sabbatikos, from Hebrew shabbathon, i.e., Sabbath)
is a rest from work, a hiatus, typically a minimum of 2 months in length (more likely 6 or 12 months). The concept of a sabbatical has a source in several places in the Bible (Leviticus 25, for example), where there is a commandment to desist from working the fields in the seventh year. In the strict sense therefore, a sabbatical lasts a year. In recent times, a sabbatical has come to mean any extended absence in the career of an individual. In the modern sense, one takes a sabbatical typically to merely take a break from work or to fulfill some goal, e.g., writing a book or traveling extensively for research. Some universities and other institutional employers of scientists, physicians, and/or academics routinely offer a paid sabbatical as an employee benefit, called sabbatical leave. Some companies offer an unpaid sabbatical for people wanting to take career breaks — this is a growing trend in the UK, with 20% of companies having a career break policy, and 10% considering introducing one. Some companies and organizations require employees to take a sabbatical.

A Sabbatical for You

Sabbaticals are often taken by professors, pastors, even cartoonists. Academic sabbaticals typically follow every six years of full-time employment. The most common arrangement is for a half year at full pay, or a full year at half pay.
A sabbatical usually is loosely defined and can be anything from a restful vacation to a customized course of study for Continuing Education, or an intensive extended period of focused work on a major project, composition, repertoire.

Examples of musician sabbaticals

Will Sherwood, 1 month in Washington DC. See goals and results (good and bad)

Peter Stolzfus Berton, 1 month, Composition

William Ness, 3 months, research tour


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