October 7, 2016

5 fears of "going digital" and how to overcome them

woman playing guitar using digital music on tablet

After my webinar Modernize Your Music Ministry there were many questions about how to use OCP digital subscriptions in a parish. Part of the hurdle in adopting new technology is overcoming apprehensions about the unknown. You may know that a digital music subscription is the right path forward for your parish but delay in implementing it because of those unknowns. So I’d like to address some of the concerns you expressed during the webinar.

  1. “My pastor is apprehensive about embracing a digital missal subscription”
    Embracing new methods is not easy for anyone. Case in point, for those who grew up with digital media, operating a ministry program without a computer could seem like an impossible task, but it has been done quite well for centuries. Your pastor may look out and see a music ministry that is prepared for each Mass and wonder why you want to mess with a good thing. In my experience those in leadership are simply waiting for a good presentation to convince them that you’ve thought the issue through thoroughly and can clearly articulate where the benefit lies for the parish.

    A good starting point – if you haven’t done it already – is to watch this webinar on modernizing your music ministry. From that page you can also download the slides and read the documents referenced. There are also two additional webinars that review Breaking Bread Digital Music Library and Spirit & Song All-Inclusive Digital Edition. This will help you to build a case for the best way to proceed in your parish. Feel free to copy and use any slides in a presentation to your pastor or pastoral council. A digital subscription will allow you to focus more of your energy toward providing excellent music and less time on administrative tasks. It will make keeping track of sheet music easier for you and your ensemble, and it can enhance participation from your musicians and your congregation. It’s hard to overlook those things when they're presented with conviction.

  2. “Programs like the Spirit & Song Digital Edition are only for the Youth Mass”
    Not so, and even if that were true, so what? It’s true that in general the music of Spirit & Song is more engaging for young people, but there are plenty of people with gray hair that attend a 5:00 pm Sunday Mass by choice, and not simply because they missed the first three Masses and forgot that the parish had a Spanish Mass at 1:00 pm. The music of contemporary liturgy speaks to a wide audience. But if it doesn’t speak to your parish, there is also the Breaking Bread Digital Music Library to consider.

    But, for argument sake, let’s say that the rumors were true, and only young people used the music of Spirit & Song. What about that would not be enough? Our young people are as much a part of the Church as you or I, and without them the Church has no future. As a Church committed to the New Evangelization we should use every means at our disposal to promote full, active and conscious participation from our young people during the liturgy. Even if it moves us a little outside of our comfort zone.

    Every parish has to balance a budget, and I fully understand and respect that, but if enhanced participation keeps even one teenager from walking away from the Church or Christ Himself… what is that worth? No seriously… what is that worth? The average person lives 71 years and the average Catholic gives about $10 per Mass. Assuming they put $10 in the collection 58 times a year for 50 years. It’s worth about $29,000! According to the digital music library pricing tiers, for a congregation between 200-800 that translates to a $2,000 increase for the parish over 50 years. For a smaller parish it would be a $10,000 increase!

  3. Using a tablet for my sheet music seems complicated
    Yes, it can be at first. Like anything new, there is a learning curve, but once you overcome that initial hurdle there is efficiency on the other side. I’m not going to promise that using a tablet for sheet music will become easy overnight, but after a couple of weeks you’re going to start noticing that you spend a lot less time shuffling papers and a lot more time practicing, and exploring new music. And the first time you use a piece of music you weren’t planning on using in a moment’s notice, you are going to wonder how you ever managed without a tablet.

  4. I don’t know how to use a digital music library like Breaking Bread
    We’re here to help! As I mentioned above, each of our digital subscriptions has an hour-long webinar dedicated to maximizing the digital music library of your choosing; the webinars go into details along with walk-throughs on how to use each feature. There are is also a series of video tutorials on the help screen for both digital editions. And as always our customer service agents are always standing by to field your questions. You could also contact a product specialist at to go over your options and discuss the features and benefits before you make any decisions. We’ve got you covered; just ask!

  5. I’m not planning on using projection or a tablet so why would I be interested?
    This was an excellent question that we didn’t get to in the webinar, so I’m glad I get the opportunity to answer it now. You don’t need to be using technology within the liturgy to benefit from digital music libraries. You still get to use all the songs as much as you want without reporting. You still get to create links and send them out to your ensemble members via email so they can print the music on their own and bring it to rehearsal. You still get assembly or text versions of all the songs for preparation of a paper worship aid if you so choose. You still get all of the MP3s from the CD library, and if you are using the Breaking Bread Digital Music Library you get all of that refreshed with the new content for each liturgical year. Adopting technology in the context of the liturgy is a great way to engage your community, but the majority of the benefit from using digital editions remains, whether you adopt tablets and projectors or not.


Jethro Higgins

Presented by:
Jethro Higgins


Jethro Higgins, father of 6,  has Directed Youth & Young Adult ministry programs and led liturgical music ensembles since 2004. Jethro received his Master of Science in Business Analysis from the Catholic University of America and is currently studying at The Augustine Institute in the Master of Arts in Theology program. 

Learn more about OCP’s digital music libraries