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Thread: Catholic organist compensation

  1. #16
    Recruit, Pianissimo
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    Just a new member here putting my tuppence worth in as an organist for a Catholic church in Scotland. I have been playing at Mass occasionally for nearly 8 years an regularly for nearly 5 and have never received any money for it. I have however been paid for the few funerals and weddings I have played for - it has been £40 for the funerals and £50 for weddings. I do not feel I am being taken advantage of in doing regular Mass unpaid as I don't believe my level of skill merits it. My highest music qualifications are an almost merit pass in grade 5 piano 15 years ago when I was 17 and a bare pass in grade 5 music theory. I find I can cope with most hymn music - I'm not asked to play anything horrendously complicated (although the music does sometimes require a bit of "editing" to bring it into a form people can sing along with). In recent years I've usually played something from CH Trevor's Old English Organ Music books either during or after the service, or sometimes both depending on whether there are hymns during communion. This music is entirely my own choice and I learn whatever takes my fancy. Given I have a key to the church for practising purposes I consider this payment in kind - I only have a keyboard at home to practise on. There is also hardly any rehearsal with the choir, for the Mass they are present.

    I can however understand that someone with professional level expertise playing complex choral music would feel taken for granted if they didn't get any payment at all for their trouble.

  2. #17
    Apprentice, Piano
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    compensation

    Nikam,

    I am in Pennsylvania, US.

  3. #18
    Rear Admiral Appassionata John Watt's Avatar
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    grousescot! Either you live near a forested field with lots of grouse,
    or someone used "dourscot" for a user name already.
    I would have thought a Scotsman playing for a Catholic congregation,
    would have an extra surcharge for playing north of Hadrian's Wall.
    It took maybe ten years before most clubs and venues had their own p.a. systems,
    and lights, so they didn't have to pay the rental every week from rock bands.
    That's here in the Niagara Peninsula, the home of global commercial electricity.
    The musicians still got paid, soundman and roadies too.

    I wouldn't try to hold the church hostage by threatening to quit, as a getting a raise ploy.
    Being into the spirituality, and if finding none, getting into the history of the Catholic church,
    would be the best way to present yourself, maybe making yourself indispensible for them.
    Getting paid for more activities sounds better than a big, overall raise.
    Jus'typin'. And a moonlick'd g'nicht, for ya.

  4. #19
    Apprentice, Piano
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    Check out these guidelines valid for Ireland (Catholic and Anglican traditions).

    http://www.liturgy-ireland.ie/paymen...musicians.html

  5. #20
    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Excellent posting, Mike ... thank you
    Kh ~~.
    Administrator


    Amateur musicians practice until they get it right ...
    Pro
    fessional musicians practice until they can't get it wrong ...


  6. #21
    Captain of Water Music
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    The Scottish Federation of Organists has the following on its website:


    Recommended Salary Scales

    Having considered the current financial climate and the decisions made by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in May 2010 regarding the remuneration of ministers and also the Church's office staff, the Salaries Committee resolved (with the agreement of the SFO Committee) that the increase in salary scales due on 1st January 2011 would not take place. A further review was undertaken early in 2011 and in view of the continuing freeze on salaries, stipends and pensions it was decided that no increase in organists' salaries could be recommended for 1st January 2012. Therefore the current scales will remain effective until at least 1st January 2013.



    a) Churches without choirs
    Salary £1,450 - £2,240 Deputy Fee £50


    b) Churches with choirs making an occasional individual contribution to worship
    Salary £2,240 - £3,570 Deputy Fee £50 - £65


    c) Churches with choirs making a substantial individual contribution to worship
    Salary £3,570 - £4,780 Deputy Fee £65 - £90


    d) Churches with complete and competent choirs singing full choral services
    Salary £4,780 - £7,140 Deputy Fee £90 - £100


    e) Churches employing a full or part time professional director of music with extensive responsibilities are recommended to consider salary scales higher than scale d)
    Salary £7,140+ Deputy Fee £100+


    Notes:


    1. There is a uniform approach to Deputy Fees, these now covering all church services, weddings and funerals. Different services contain different emphases, but all are important and should receive equal treatment.


    2. Recording fees remain unchanged:
    The fee + 50% for sound recording
    The fee + 100% for video recording


    3. These scales are not mandatory. They provide guidelines for churches throughout Scotland. Whilst these scales are endorsed by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland it is hoped that they will also be endorsed on an inter-denominational basis.


    4. If exceptional situations arise, which are not covered by these scales - for example, the number and nature of services within the Anglican and Roman Liturgies, or within Church of Scotland linked charges - then dialogue and negotiation are recommended as ways towards mutual agreement. Organists should be prepared to be pro-active in such matters and not diffident concerning reference to these scales.


    5. These scales exist to provide a working framework and to maintain reasonable standards of remuneration. If there are musicians who are prepared to accept alternative remuneration, or to offer their services on a voluntary basis, then that is a matter for individual decisions and outwith the scope of these recommendations.


    6. Churches that are experiencing financial difficulties or who do not wish to subscribe to these scales should not seek to engage deputies who do expect these scales to be observed.


    7. It should not be necessary to emphasise that the labourer be worthy of hire. Those who benefit from SFO scales should be competent to do so.


    8. The current Church of Scotland Contract for Organists is now an extensive document containing sections applying to Duties, Salaries, Hours of Work, Holidays, Sickness Benefits, Expenses, Disciplinary Matters, Redress of Grievances, Protection of Children and Young People, Dress and Worship. This is now a comprehensive document but there are areas that are perhaps ambiguous - Dress and Expenses, for example, and further negotiations may be necessary.


    Not every church will adopt this contract and local variations exist. These matters should be checked carefully before entering into employment. Copies of the contract can be obtained from the Church of Scotland Legal Department at 121 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4YH (0131 225 5722).


    9. These scales now remain relevant until 1st January 2013, by when a further review will have taken place.


    Relevant and informed commentary is always welcome and should be addressed to Iain Galbraith, Convenor, via the SFO e-mail address: publications@scotsorgan.org.uk


    Please note, however, that queries regarding individual contracts and/or tax matters should be addressed to your own Solicitor or other professional adviser

  7. #22
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    Hi all,

    This has been an interesting thread. To update everyone who seems to take an interest in this thread, my current rate of pay has increased to $50 per service (before deductions). I really am very hesitant to ask for more for several personal reasons. First of all, I am playing for my own parish as I mentioned earlier. Also, I think that asking for another $5 increase every so often begins to make me look a bit foolish. There just seems to be a certain self-degradation involved. I have no doubt that my church administration is well aware of what other Catholic organists are being paid in nearby parishes (on par with mine and perhaps a bit less in some cases) and so unless I forthrightly declare a set amount below which I will not continue to play, I'd probably just be forcing myself into a position of 'take it or leave it' at some point. I am under no contractual obligation of any kind currently, and that in and of itself lends considerable flexibility which is a plus. And so I guess there are pros and cons to the low pay. The current rate of pay has been the same now for the past 8 months, and so it will be interesting to see what happens come July - which is when the last increase was given. I vacillate between feeling very grateful for the truly wonderful Parish I am a member of - great people, beautiful church, very nice instrument, the type of position I enjoy (play but no directing) - and feeling a bit taken advantage of - especially when I know that the weekly collection is well over twice what I make in an entire year. These dichotomous feelings can be very disturbing at times and are certainly ones to continue to pray over. Obviously, today, is one of the moments when I am feeling a bit undervalued and taken for granted. Fueling the side of me that sometimes feels the bite of the unfairness of low pay is that I have two college degrees in music and over 40 years of experience. Currently there are no other organists (we have had a few part time individuals on occasion) that can play any Sunday Masses, and so if I tell them I cannot play a given Sunday, there is no organist to cover. I have not missed a service since I began playing on a steady, weekly basis since July. Perhaps if I take a week off every so often, that might, more than anything I could say, get the point across that I'm perhaps more important to the Mass than some folks might realize.

    KAS
    Last edited by kas; Mar-12-2012 at 16:44.

  8. #23
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    Hi from Suzanne Jordan Birmingham England.
    A very interesting thread indeed.
    I have served both as a cathedral and parish organist at various times in my career, and I recently had to
    give up playing on medical grounds this january after 49 years as a church organist.

    Mainly most parish organists depending on whether you are church of england RC or baptist Methodist etc,
    use the RCM or RSCM Organists remuneration scales for purposes of paying Organists, and depending on their
    standard of qualification, such as member Fellow Licentiate or Mus.Doc level for example.

    In most cases cathedral organists both Principal and Deputy principal organists are a salaried position with thsoe salaries
    being agreed with the relevant church authorities and Chapters

    In the case of Parish organists this is usally negotiated on the RSCM or RCM remuneration scales, and or as agreed with the
    relevant boards of each church. Most churches when advertising vacant organist positions will give an idea of hours and salary
    to be paid and at what intervals.

    I have known cases where organists have not been paid for services usually in very small churches like pentecostal and other independant churches, who also seem to regard the organists time and service as a gift to god, a lot of these churches not even offering travel expenses either.

    Now it may be fair to say that they should pay, I have had times when I have ahd to travel quite a long way to do a service and not even an offer of anything towards my travel costs for example, and as for a service fee-no chance.

    A lot of churches have this opinion that the organist is there to play the service, and not to seek any reward. In my view the workman is worthy of his hire, and even if the church paid travelling costs it would be something.

    Now a lot of hospital chaplaincy organists can claim for their travel and time, and rightly so, even though theyare classed as voluntary and they can claim their travel costs which is something.
    But as I have now retired from church music it often makes me smile when I hear young organists say quite bluntly, well if they dont pay-i dont play. maybe then the churches may then put some value on the contribution made by the organsit to the worship of a service, and for the time and commitment they have spent preparing and also training to be able to play to a professional standard.

    So keep plugging away my dear fellow organists , and maybe we shall break down this wall of no or little pay, and become the valued and effective profesionals at the instrument playing not only for Gods glory and the blessing of the congregations you serve, but also to feel that you have been justly rewarded down here for your labour.

    Suzanne Jordan
    Birmingham UK

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  10. #24
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso Dorsetmike's Avatar
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    Very well put Suzanne, and welcome to the forum.
    Cheers MIKE.

    How many roads must a man walk down ... ... before he admits he's lost?

  11. #25
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso wljmrbill's Avatar
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    Nicely put Suzanne and welcome also.. I think sometimes they forget how many hours,years and money we spend just to be able to play at an acceptable level.. Lessons in the USA are not cheap even when I was growing up years ago. College was expensive too. For me PLaying for services is how I earned my money to continue to study. Funny can remember doing the organ teachers yard and weed pulling work, washing outside of the house, cleaning just to get my lessons and maybe some practice time as we had little money.Maybe we appreciated it more having to work for our educations.
    ....To play only what is written is the domain of science. To realize what is not written is the domain of art."
    - Jean Langlais

    I wish you the Best for each day, now and always.

    Bill

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  13. #26
    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wljmrbill View Post
    . . . Maybe we appreciated it more having to work for our educations.
    Agreed ... Although my parents paid for lots of years of lessons for me, when I began playing in church and began receiving income from that, I was then paying for my own lessons. It was a great motivator ... and I've never regretted it.

  14. #27
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    Hi,

    Just a quick update to this topic. My church's fiscal year begins with July, and so I was awaiting to see if any raise was forthcoming - possibly above and beyond my per-service pay of $50. As of this past Sunday I saw in my recent paycheck that there has been an increase of two dollars per service - from the previous $50 to a current rate of $52, leading me to believe that the $50 range is probably close to the upper limit of what I will ever receive. In all fairness to my parish - and a point I did not mention previously - is that there are two other organists - both play on alternate Saturday vigil Masses. The one has been receiving $40 and the other is newer and probably receives less. So, I do need to consider that, while my pay seems on the low side, a 'weekly' pay is being given of approximately $80-90 - certainly more than many Catholic parishes in my area I believe.

    kas

  15. #28
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    Just an update since I haven't added anything to this thread for quite some time. My church's fiscal year ends June 30, and so I just got my recent "increase", which went up one dollar from $54 per service to $55. I'm quite disappointed, especially since over the past year we have added additional choir responsibilities (I'm not the director, but it involves an additional after-Mass 1.5 to 2 hour rehearsal once a month except for during summers). I thought that this might be worth something in terms of my priest wishing to continue to offer at least a $2 raise per year as has been the case the past 3 years. I never expected, at any point, an increase of $1. This almost feels insulting in a way, and yet I am trying hard to not feel this way about it since it is my own church. A part of me keeps trying to convince another part of me that this is just 'the way it is' in the Catholic church. It appears that the priest really does not want to give me any more but yet feels he has to give something, hence the buck raise. I've been contemplating simply cutting back on the number of services I play per month and that maybe that will give him the idea. There is another part-time (infrequent) musician who plays when I'm away but she is more of a pianist than organist. I don't know if my indicating that I am scaling back would work to my benefit or not. The subject of money is never broached either by my priest or even between me and my music director. I was once told by my director that "most (organists) do it as a music ministry for which they receive a small stipend". And yet I know for a fact that he receives MUCH more per year than I do, and does relatively little for it. It's frustrating. I'm trying to rely on God and praying to Him for guidance on this issue. Any thoughts?

    Thanks,
    KAS
    Last edited by kas; Jul-13-2014 at 03:19. Reason: changes needed

  16. #29
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso wljmrbill's Avatar
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    ah Kas..sorry to hear what value was put on you..but when playing I was familiar with the problem. Maybe their rewadr is here and yours will come later...a thought..
    ....To play only what is written is the domain of science. To realize what is not written is the domain of art."
    - Jean Langlais

    I wish you the Best for each day, now and always.

    Bill

  17. #30
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    I must admit, as a Catholic organist I have had times when I have wondered why on earth I've invested so much time, effort and money for such little reward. But I have come to an understanding that it doesn't matter. Church attendance is on the slide, and much of what we have come to expect will be gone in 10 years time. As a 44-year old, I have perhaps another 20-30 years left as a church organist, assuming my health holds up. That is 20-30 years observing an institution in terminal decline, a depressing thought. My parish is dropping the one Mass that is my 'raison d'etre' as an organist, where the atmosphere is quiet and reflective and I get to play much of the organ's repertoire. I will soon be left with the 11am Mass, where the culture is very different and regards the organist as an hymn accompanist and nothing more. It will be very easy for me to slip into the slapdash Catholic mindset of 'anything will do', because I effectively will have nothing to do.

    Best wishes,
    Padster

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