Melissa Berg Wants to Help People Connect With God Through Music
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For example, “Everybody’s different. For me personally, the easiest way to connect with God is through worship time and through music,” she says.
“What does it for me is connecting with God in that raw moment and seeing what the Holy Spirit wants to say or what to do, what reflection is put on my heart, you know? I just want to help people connect with God through the times of worship.”
With her mom’s enthusiasm for music and, thankfully, her dad’s talent, Melissa did indeed get her start at age two, as part of a chorus made up of toddlers at United Methodist Church of Valencia.
“I’m not sure how well we sang, but we did something,” she says. Of course, it was adorable.
Fast forward and you’d find Melissa on her way to earning her degree in Music Education at Pepperdine, while training as a classical pianist. The industrious young woman began giving private piano lessons herself at age 15.
“You’re more rewarded for playing piano, scholarship-wise,” she observes. “I only say that with a scoff a little bit. Classical piano is much more intense than classical voice. I probably would have preferred to do the voice more often, but I was boxed into the piano stuff because of my scholarship. My main focus was piano, but I did voice as well in college. Then I taught music in the classroom, in schools, for about seven years.”
Not only did Melissa teach — at Heritage Christian School in Granada Hills, and Valencia’s Legacy Christian Academy — she also served as a worship leader, primarily at Higher Vision Church. And she conducted choirs, directed musicals and organized regional choir competitions.
Then, after years of unremitting, intense work and responsibility she found “I got really burned out of teaching music in a classroom,” she recalls. “I feel like at the beginning of my life I squeezed in too much.”
And so she left.
She moved to Monterey and worked in hospitality for awhile, including at a fancy restaurant “right next to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.” It was not an easy time, Melissa admits. “But it was beautiful and that was a bonus.”
After three years, she returned to Southern California. She also returned to Heritage Christian — but not as a music teacher this time.
Melissa trained to become an educational therapist, eventually becoming certified by the National Institute for Learning Development to teach its Discovery program.
“It’s not special education, it’s a bridge between a regular classroom and special education for kids who have learning disabilities,” she says. “It’s such an awesome program.” Better known and established in the Eastern U.S. than in the West, at Heritage, Discovery is now known as the Academic Support Center.
Melissa has also has provided educational therapy for students in Santa Monica. The drive, she admits, was brutal.
She took her first small step back into music when an opportunity arose to serve as a substitute worship leader for a number of area churches.
Then came one of those fortuitous, divinely touched, chains of events.
Melissa’s Dad, Dave, whose own musical life includes having a bluegrass band and bringing music to seniors in care homes, happened to be leading music for a men’s Emmaus retreat that was attended by none other than Pastor Tim Delkeskamp.
Pastor Tim asked Dave if he knew of anyone in the worship music field who might be a good fit for our 10:30 service. One thing led to another, and soon Melissa was meeting with members of Praise Alive and talking to Pastor Tim about various worship service matters. She led worship a couple of times and hung out for fellowship with the 10:30 crowd — “awesome people who are regulars.”
And now, here she is.
Melissa’s own musical tastes run toward film scores and alternative indie rock, but she appreciates a wide range of styles. Expect to hear more modern hymns and fresh arrangements of favorites — like the rendition of “Amazing Grace” she sang with her dad here earlier this month.
“It is ‘Amazing Grace,’ but then [contemporary Christian music singer, songwriter] Chris Tomlin came in and wrote a chorus that’s modern and pulls all the choruses together,” she explains.
So, for those who haven’t been to the 10:30 service in a while, maybe now is a good time to come check it out again — and bring friends. You might just find a new way to connect with God.