Church musicians inspire worshiping congregants each Sunday with their lofty hymns and melodies. But musicians need inspiration sometimes, too, and they often find it with one another.

It's why more than 1,000 church musicians from a variety of denominations are expected to participate in free music clinics in July and August in cities across the United States. They'll network, learn and hopefully inspire each other, organizers say.

The seven clinics are being offered by Minneapolis-based Augsburg Fortress Publishers, the publishing arm of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The only clinic in Minnesota will be held in St. Paul at Roseville Lutheran Church, July 23-24.

Clinics feature choral, organ and piano reading sessions as well as courses on keyboards and handbells, said David Ancelet, assistant product manager for worship and music at Augsburg Fortress.

"I think it's not only to better themselves but to inspire musicians to try different things or to reflect how they can improve their own programs," Ancelet said. "A lot of people come to network with each other. It's social, but a lot of people will come and trade ideas or stories. That's one of the big highlights."

Most participants are from ELCA churches, though musicians from Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal and Catholic churches also attend. Those interested can visit for more details and to register. Clinics also are offered in January.

Many who come to the clinics are grappling with the changes that come from shrinking or growing membership, Ancelet said.

"For shrinking congregations, it's how to work with a smaller choir. For some, they're getting bigger. 'Now we have more musicians.' 'I have a choral director.' 'I know how to play piano, but have eight string players at my disposal with this new congregation.' 'How do I address an orchestra?'"

Rose French • 612-673-4352