UUS Seeks Music Director

The Unitarian Universalist Society (UUS) seeks a Director of Music for our vibrant, engaged congregation of about 300 adult members and over 100 children and youth. The Director of Music organizes and develops the growth and diversity of the music program, and helps provide a multisensory and engaging Sunday worship service. UUS has been growing new roots since moving to a new, green sanctuary on 8 acres of woodland in 2017. We are looking for candidates who can help us further develop a dynamic, diverse, affirming, and inspiring music program as part of our congregation’s ministry, helping us to thrive into the future. 

Music is shared ministry that enriches and helps develop our spiritual lives. The Association for Unitarian Universalist Music Ministries (AUUMM) states that music is created “To celebrate the breadth and wealth of the world’s music which expresses and embodies the values of Unitarian Universalists.” The music programming at UUS welcomes all people interested in making music. We strive to find engagement for an individual’s level of interest and/or musical sophistication. 

Pre-pandemic, the UUS Music Program consisted of an adult choir (singing at 3 Sunday worship services per month plus special services of celebration), string ensemble, wind/brass ensemble, and a piano ensemble, which were coordinated by our now-retired Music Director with the assistance of an accompanist. During the pandemic, our Interim Online Worship Music Leader has provided music for Sunday and special services, developed a few pieces with the choir, and invited UUS member musicians to develop special pieces for some worship services.

Our vision for the future of the music program includes a separate position for a Choir Director once in-person group singing can be done safely. This Director of Music position will primarily work with the minister and worship team to select and perform music for Sunday services and coordinate our ensembles and special musical guests (full duties below). They will work closely with the Choir Director in coordinating musical selections and ideally serve as accompanist for the choir, but would not have direct responsibility for choir direction. The Director of Music reports to the Minister.

There is interest in developing more multigenerational music opportunities, whether during All Ages worship services or separately. There is also interest in developing musical events beyond Sunday services that welcome more of the wider community. In addition, the Director of Music may be able to use UUS facilities for rehearsal space (rooms and amount of time to be negotiated).

Our initial review of applications will begin May 6th, so applicants are encouraged to submit their materials by May 5th; applications submitted later may be accepted. All interviews will be conducted online.

Please send a letter of interest, resume, and supporting materials to the Music Director Search Team at musicsearch@uusic.org. If you have questions about the position, please email Rev. Diana Smith at minister@uusic.org.

Position is 15 hours/wk if also accompanist | Start date Summer 2021

UUS is committed to following UUA guidelines for our size (Midsize II) and geoindex (2). 

Note: The Quire of Eastern Iowa is also looking for an Artistic Director at this time. Click here to see that position description. UUS and the Quire are each conducting the hiring process for their own positions, but if a candidate is accepted for both positions, UUS and the Quire will coordinate to make it possible to do both positions. Please apply to UUS for this Music Director position and the Quire for their Artistic Director position if you are interested in both.


Essential Functions

  • Collaborate with the Minister, Staff, and volunteers to establish and administer music performance and participation programs that promote, fulfill, and expand the Society’s mission and vision. 
  • Select and plan music in collaboration with the Minister or worship team and the future Choir Director. Make musical selections consistent with the mission and vision, and worship culture of UUS, taking care to draw from diverse musical styles and source materials. 
  • Recruit and welcome musicians of all types and skill levels into established ensembles or into new collaborations. Develop the necessary volunteer teams needed to carry out the music program at UUS. 
  • Accompany the choir and soloists as needed, or identify alternative accompanists.
  • If necessary at the beginning of the appointment due to the pandemic, be able and willing to coordinate music for online worship services.
  • Actively seek out opportunities for multigenerational participation in the music program.
  • Develop and maintain opportunities for musical performance/participation outside of Sunday morning services, drawing on the resources of a musical congregation and acoustic sanctuary performance space. 
  • Develop local community outreach channels to broaden the reach of the UUS Music Program through guest performances.
  • Maintain the UUS music library, selecting and purchasing music when necessary.

Education and Experience

  • Knowledge of music and ensemble directing; experience with music and ensemble directing preferred. 
  • Coursework or continuing education in musical theory or musical applications/leadership preferred. 
  • Ability to develop, organize, and lead the congregation’s music ministry. 
  • Ability to use email and spreadsheets. 
  • Piano/accompaniment experience preferred.

Core Competencies

  • Mission Ownership: Demonstrates understanding and full support of the mission, vision, values and beliefs of UUS. Makes musical selections in a manner consistent with UUS’s mission, values, and beliefs. Work professionally and in accordance with Unitarian Universalist Principles, the Society’s mission and vision statements, and the Society’s policies and bylaws.
  • Compassion and Care: Maintains high standards of confidentiality and discretion. Exudes a natural sense of care for the well-being of others; responds with empathy to the life circumstances of others; demonstrates appropriate and boundaried expressions of care.   
  • Music/Aesthetic Skills, Creativity, and Innovation: Demonstrates an awareness of the effect of music emotional tone and words on worship experience and an ability to communicate about these to volunteer and guest musicians with varying musical experience. Generates new ideas about music for Sunday services that connects with service themes and ways for musicians to develop musicianship, working with a variety of classical and more modern music. Approaches issues of cultural appropriation and misappropriation with care. 
  • Interpersonal Skills: Demonstrates the ability to work with others. Demonstrates the skills of active listening and openly accepts criticism. Productively engages and resolves interpersonal conflict. Holds others accountable in a spirit of love. Engages people positively. Engages in thoughtful listening; overcomes personal bias to genuinely hear the ideas and concerns of another; can describe the perspective of another, even when he/she/they disagrees. Communicates a sense of care for the well-being of others; demonstrates appropriate and boundaried expressions of care. Interacts positively with visitors, attendees, members, church leadership, staff, and other music professionals. 
  • Communication Skills: Is able to deliver a message clearly in a variety of settings; demonstrates communication styles appropriate to the situation at hand; adjusts the message, without losing the essence of the message, depending upon the circumstances and the listener. Is able to write clearly and succinctly; able to use computer programs relevant to the position.
  • Management Skills: Manages work time well without overworking; marshals resources (people, funding, materials) to get projects completed on time and successfully; keeps accurate records and a functional filing system, as well as successfully managing an annual budget.
  • Anti-Racism/Anti-Oppression Awareness and Skills: Knowing that this work is always in-progress, continually develops and maintains awareness of equity and inclusion; demonstrates accountable engagement with diverse musical and spiritual traditions and communities and is mindful of issues related to cultural misappropriation in their work with the congregation; ensures that processes and practices are adaptable to different needs, abilities, and ways of working, seeking support for this as appropriate. 

ABOUT OUR CONGREGATION

UUS’s mission statement is: We are a welcoming spiritually diverse home. We act on our values to honor the Earth, advocate for racial and social justice, foster deep connections and embrace the ongoing quest for meaning. 

Our members are deeply committed to UUS and to one another.  We exhibit a strong culture of social justice action, liberal thinking, radical hospitality and sustainability efforts that is reflected in our members’ activities in the congregation and in the greater community. We are diverse and pluralistic regarding our philosophical and theological beliefs and committed to inquiry and to learning from one another.

We trace our origins back to the founding of a small Universalist congregation in 1841 in Iowa City.  In 1888 Iowa City’s Unitarian and Universalist churches merged.  In 2015 we purchased eight acres of land in neighboring Coralville and moved to an awe-inspiring new green sanctuary in 2017. We have about 300 adult members and over 100 children and youth.

ABOUT OUR LOCATION

The Iowa City/Coralville community, located in the rolling hills of eastern Iowa, includes value-driven academics, humanists, medical professionals, writers, students and serious readers of all ages, booksellers, librarians, teachers, farmers, artists, crafts persons and entrepreneurs. It is home to the University of Iowa, Kirkwood Community College, the University of Iowa Hospitals, Mercy Hospital, VA Health Care System, the Iowa Writers Workshop, world class research libraries, the Iowa Women’s Archive, UI Senior College, the Oakdale correctional facility, and a significant number of people living below the poverty line. 

With a population of 150,000, Johnson County is 76% white, 8% Asian, 7% Black and 6% Latino.  Of those 25 and older, 60% hold a bachelor’s degree or more. The unemployment rate is about 2%, median household income is just below $60,000 but 28% of the population lives below the poverty line.  

Our community is rich in the arts; home to the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop, multiple venues for live music and theater, the University Stanley Museum of Art, and many summer arts and music festivals. Outdoor recreation offerings include bike trails, local parks with pools, courts and hiking, the Iowa River, Lake Macbride and the Coralville Reservoir.  The University provides Big Ten spectator sports including football, basketball, baseball, softball and field hockey. Iowa City frequently ranks among the best places to live because of the quality of life, health care, safety, public schools, arts and cost of living.

Iowa City has recently been ranked #2 of Best Places to Live (Livability), #19 of Best Places to Live (Money Magazine), #1 among Best Places to Retire (Money Magazine), #3 Best Place to Live in America (Outside Magazine); #5 of Best College Towns in America (Business Insider); #4 Best Place to Retire in the U.S. (NBC’s Today Show), #5 of America’s Healthiest Cities (24/7 Wall Street), and #7 of Top Cheap and Charming Places to Retire (MSN Money). Coralville has been named one of the Top Ten Places to Live for Under $40,000 a Year (AARP Magazine). North Liberty has been rated #36 among America’s Best Places to Live (USA Today) and #75 of Best Places to Live (Money Magazine).