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Thread: what are organists getting paid ?

  1. #1
    Apprentice, Piano
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    what are organists getting paid ?

    Hi!
    I was wondering if any organists in the forum (those who are not receiving a set salary) would be willing to share what they get paid per service. I am not salaried by the year, and do not hold any sort of AGO certificate. I get a monthly check for the number of services played - based on $30 per service, before deductions- so the net pay is around $23. This is an inadequate amount in my opinion - and has been the SAME amount for the last 6 years. I have not spoken up about this since I am playing in my own church and I've heard that, often, in the Catholic church people either simply volunteer their time or get paid little.
    I'm hoping for some responses, as it would help me in trying to 'negotiate' for a bit of an increase!

    Thanks,
    kas

  2. #2
    Commodore de Cavaille-Coll
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    Hi kas,

    This is a good question but it is one that vexes all involved. It doesn't hurt to be a member of a Guild like the American Guild of Organists - it could possibly help in your negotiations for a pay increase. Of course a College or University degree will also help greatly.

    Catholic Churches are notorious for underpaying their musicians, especially if you are not employed by a Diocesan Cathedral or Basilica. I once played for a Catholic Church and when I received a check for the stunning amount of $20 I promptly marched over to the Priest and laid it on his desk and said calmly and politely: "Keep your Judas money, you're in greater need of it than I am." Then I left, never to return.

    Personally, I don't see why not the fee scale for Churches who don't have salaried organists can't be based on the Federal minimum wage earned over a year which is $10712 divided by for e.g. 51 sundays in a year which is $210.04 a service. The time one spends on preparing the music should also be paid for. Again this is just a personal observation. Of course, if a Church has a salaried organist he/she should be paid as a professional with a College or University degree, preferably a Master's or DMA in Organ/Conducting. Again, Diocesan Cathedral's and Basilicas do pay their Music Directors a liveable salary. I know many Churches who are paying $60 a service - it all depends on how the local parish values excellent music and fairness.

    Cheers,

    Giovanni

  3. #3
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    organists' pay

    Giovanni:
    Thanks for the reply. Actually, I do have a Bachelors and Masters degree in Music Education. I guess I've just never felt motivated to pursue a guild certificate, probably since organ was not my major instrument as an undergrad; however, I think the $60 price per service you quoted would be a much fairer wage than the $30 I get. As you said, the low pay situation is not unusual in the Catholic church. I'm hoping to get even more replies. This is unquestionably, as a few other posters have noted, a pretty slow forum, so I may yet get more input. Thanks for responding.

    KAS

  4. #4
    Captain of Water Music Thomas Dressler's Avatar
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    Hi kas,

    I've avoided answering your post myself because I had already replied earlier (and I'm at the end of a concentrated semester of teaching Intro to Music History!)

    I am salaried, so my situation does not entirely apply to yours. I would tell you that Catholic churches in New Jersey do often pay quite well, so it might be worth your while to check with people in the Metuchen diocese. You could probably even call the diocesan office and get to talk with someone. Over here in PA, especially this area, pay tends to be inadequate.

    But I would say again that I think one of the best things you can do is explore the AGO website as I mentioned before. The salary guidelines are middle of the road, and you can use an online cost of living adjuster to come up with what is a fair salary for your particular place.

    If you're being paid per service, it is still my opinion that even $60 is low. $75 or even $100 would not be too much, depending on your qualifications.

    But it is true that if you have a situation where music is not valued highly, you are going to be fighting a tough battle. If it's simply ignorance and there is a desire for fairness on the part of the administration, then do your research very carefully, make a good presentation, and you will probably get more fair pay.

    Best wishes to you!

    Tom

  5. #5
    Midshipman, Forte Aristide's Avatar
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    Hi Kas,
    I get €30 per normal service and around €50 for funerals, weddings and other 'special services'. That's considered very well paid in Belgium, and I only get it because I play in a pretty big church in the city. It's down to sometimes 50% of that in rural communities.
    Obviously, other jobs (like teaching) are necessary to pay a mortgage.

  6. #6
    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Hi Kas,

    I too am salaried - but if we divide that into a per service figure, it amounts to about $104 per service, and I play 3 services every Sunday, and one of thse 3 is on piano in a comtemporary setting without a choir. This is in a 500 member Lutheran church in Arizona, where I am also a member. I have been playing, however, for nearly 47 years, so my practical experience does have some impact on my church earnings. Weddings here pay between $75 and $100. Funerals $60 to $100 over and above my normal monthly salary.

    I held a RC organist position for 3 years 14 years ago. Then it paid $30 per service and choir rehearsal - I had 2 mass services and one choir rehearsal, so my pay was about $90 per week before taxes. I heard that the going rate in the local diocese is now $35 per service/rehearsal.

    Good luck in your endeavors

  7. #7
    Apprentice, Piano jerzy.nowicki's Avatar
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    I'm working in Poland. I get $3 (PLN 10) for weekdays service and $6 (PLN 20) for sunday/service. I get extra money for the weddings, about $35 (PLN 120).

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    Lieutenant Commander, Concertmaster FinnViking's Avatar
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    In Finland we have an official recommendation for the non-salaried substitutes. A formal competence is required, otherwise the fee will be slightly reduced: sunday main service 83 €, other service 68 €, baptism 56 €, wedding 56 €, funeral 79 €, choir or orchestral rehearsal 1 hour 42 € and the next hours 21 € each. Total at most 165 euro per day.

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    Agreed payments in Ireland

    Hi there,

    Just joined the forum and saw the query regarding remuneration for church services. Google this topic: Guidelines for Payment of Parish Church Musicians Ireland

    You will be very surprised at the recommendations! - I have to say that in rural Ireland this is little adhered to, but the guidelines are meant for Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic churches. Certainly these rates are paid in Dublin.

  10. #10
    Seaman, Mezzoforte Diaphone Profundo 64's Avatar
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    In Greece, organists are paid very bad. I play for 3 churches in different times and I cannot manage be paid well. The Greek Church pays 25 Euros for each service and 20 Euros for the weddings. The American Church pays 20 Euros for the service and some more for the weddings and the German Church pays 18 Euros for each service. As you see if I could expect to live from the church I would be dead. Fortunately I have lessons and concerts that I am paid well.

  11. #11
    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FinnViking View Post
    Finland, non-salaried substitutes. Sunday main service 83 €, other service 68 €, baptism 56 €, wedding 56 €, funeral 79 €, choir or orchestral rehearsal 1 hour 42 € and the next hours 21 € each. Total at most 165 euro per day.
    Hi FinnViking ...
    Those figures are pretty much on par with this area of the US (Arizona) and in my own particular church.

    Quote Originally Posted by mike l'irlandese View Post
    Guidelines for Payment of Parish Church Musicians Ireland. You will be very surprised at the recommendations! Certainly these rates are paid in Dublin.
    Hello Mike, and welcome to MIMF
    Your post has some very interesting information there. Where do I sign up for being the wedding organist? I mean that compared to a high mass church service, the wedding service usually isn't as complex, but the pay rate is higher. Nice, indeed!


    Quote Originally Posted by Diaphone Profundo 64 View Post
    In Greece, organists are paid very bad. I play for 3 churches in different times and I cannot manage be paid well. The Greek Church pays 25 Euros for each service and 20 Euros for the weddings. The American Church pays 20 Euros for the service and some more for the weddings and the German Church pays 18 Euros for each service.
    Hi Diaphone Prufundo. Holy Cow! ... figuratively speaking Those are similar rates to what I received playing in the RC church 14 years ago. Thanks for sharing this with this community.

  12. #12
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    Thanks to all who replied to this thread! My priest recently increased what I get from $30 per service to $35. While this is still not up to what I feel it should be, what I like most is that it was done without any formal request on my part for an increase. So, at least my time and efforts are being appreciated! Maybe another $5 in a few years or so.....

  13. #13
    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Congratulations, Kas
    At least this is a step in the right direction. Keep up the great work - apparently the priest has an ear for music and appreciates your efforts.
    Kh ~~.
    Administrator


    Amateur musicians practice until they get it right ...
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  14. #14
    Seaman, Mezzoforte Diaphone Profundo 64's Avatar
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    You may be happy. We did no have increase to our salaries for the last 3 years in the Greek church and before that for the 7 last years, at the American Church for the last (I do not remember any more) years, and at the German Church for the last 6 years.

  15. #15
    Recruit, Pianissimo
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    In my last regular post as a Methodist church organist in the UK, I received a 5% pay rise - from £10 to £10.50 per service (two services every Sunday). That's about $20 or €15. No payment for attending the weekly choir practice. I now play occassionally elsewhere and can't remember the last time I was paid anything for a normal service, although I have found that if I don't specify anything for a wedding and ask the family to pay me what they feel is appropriate, I usually get more than I would ask for - £70 for the last one, £100 for the one before that. I would only ask for £50!

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