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Thread: Any other Catholic church organists here?

  1. #1
    Apprentice, Piano
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    Any other Catholic church organists here?

    Hi!
    Just wondering if there are any other organists in the forum serving Catholic parishes? If so, I'd be interested in hearing about whether or not there is only 1 organist to handle all Masses, e.g. in my church, there is a Saturday vigil Mass every week at 4:30, and then 2 Sunday morning services. Along with Holy Days, etc., I can see where it would get to be a big job for 1 person. We are a parish with around 6-7 hundred families.
    Also, is anyone out there getting what they consider a decent pay for their services in the Catholic church? At mine, they were fortunate to have a man who played for, I think, 30 years for free. I'm only getting around $30 per service, before deductions. I'd like to see them increase it a bit. I only play, and do not have any choir directing responsibilities.
    Any input much appreciated.

    Take care,
    kas

  2. #2
    Captain of Water Music Thomas Dressler's Avatar
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    Hi kas,

    Yes, I've worked in Catholic parishes for about 20 years now. In most cases there was just one organist for the weekend Masses. In a couple parishes, I had two Saturday evening Masses and three Sunday morning Masses, an exhausting load. My present position is the first one where I've had and assistant, and that's because we have a mission parish and I can't be in 2 places at once. Yes, it can be a very big job and not appreciated.

    What you should make varies from place to place, but if you are from the Allentown area I think you maybe should be getting around $75 per Mass if not $100. $30 is absolutely way too low.

    I'd suggest going to the American Guild of Organists site and checking out their salary guildelines. http://www.agohq.org/about/index.html Click on "Downloadable Docs" and scroll down the page to "salary guide."

    Best wishes with this,

    Tom

  3. #3
    Midshipman, Forte _music_4_ever_'s Avatar
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    I was thinking in acept the place of organist in my church.
    I need some opinions...I think that might will turn me less nervous.

  4. #4
    Captain of Water Music Thomas Dressler's Avatar
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    If you want to learn to play in front of people, a church job can certainly help!

    Just keep in mind that there is an awful lot involved in church work other than just playing. Even if you are just the organist, you usually have to deal with an awful lot of opinions! But depending on how the people and priests/minister are in your church, it can be a good experience.

    Good luck with it!

  5. #5
    Apprentice, Piano
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    thanks for the advice

    Hey Tom:
    Thanks for the advice. A week or so ago, I had said something to our choir director about the pay situation. NOT that I want to get on the bad side of the priest, since I play in my own church, however, the pay has been the same ($30 BEFORE deductions) for about 6 years now. I play only once per week, but even so - I used to get around $60 to sub in my parents' Lutheran church, and that was around 8-9 YEARS ago. Something has to change.
    We'll see where it goes. I'll keep you posted. Hey....about this piece:
    Adagio for Strings arr. for organ by Strickland - -nicely done arrangement. I absolutely love this. Ever play it?

    Best,
    kas

  6. #6
    Midshipman, Forte _music_4_ever_'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Dressler
    If you want to learn to play in front of people, a church job can certainly help!

    Just keep in mind that there is an awful lot involved in church work other than just playing. Even if you are just the organist, you usually have to deal with an awful lot of opinions! But depending on how the people and priests/minister are in your church, it can be a good experience.

    Good luck with it!

    Thanks!!!!

    In "my" church my father is one of the organists playing there and I'm on the choir, so I see what's happen there. The people who work on the church doesn't pay much attention to the organists' opinions...They just have to play organ and nothing else metters...




  7. #7
    Captain of Water Music Thomas Dressler's Avatar
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    Kas, a long delayed reply, but I'm glad to see you said something--hope it made a difference! And yes, I have played the arrangement you mentioned, though it's been many years. I should dig it out again!

    music 4 ever, hope it's working for you!

    Thomas Dressler

  8. #8
    Recruit, Pianissimo
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    I think in Poland is easier to find organist. Try abroad.

  9. #9
    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Dressler View Post
    . . . . . What you should make varies from place to place, but if you are from the Allentown area I think you maybe should be getting around $75 per Mass if not $100. $30 is absolutely way too low.
    Here in the western US, the RC organists going rate is about $35-40 per Mass. This is up $10 from when I played in a very large (6,000 member) Catholic parish here 15 years ago. Note for note, there is much more organist involvement in a Catholic mass as compared to a Protestant service, but historically they pay better, and the position is usually a monthly stipend regardless of how many services we do (or don't) play.

    Indeed, $30 is way under par ... how we convince the various RC diocese's of this low standard and bring the RC musician pay structure into current times has been a long unsolved mystery ... out here anyway, it remains a 'take it or leave it' situation. We will never be able to attract young people into the church musician profession if the pay standards aren't adjusted accordingly. At least, that's my humble opinion.

  10. #10
    Admiral of Fugues Contratrombone64's Avatar
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    Krummhorn said:

    Note for note, there is much more organist involvement in a Catholic mass as compared to a Protestant service

    Not a good idea to make sweeping generalisations in my opinion. The church that I attend is Anglican and our organist plays for two masses on Sunday mornings plus evensong on Sunday evening ... on top of that, he also plays for fesitvals and weekday evening services where music is scheduled. He is also present at the Choir rehearsals which generally are two hours twice a week.

  11. #11
    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Contratrombone64,

    Sorry for the generalized note I was attempting to reference my own personal experience and situation but forgot to insert a couple words to that effect this is what sometimes happens when I post before breakfast and coffee

    Very true about Anglican organists - I know a few here who get quite a workout, too.

    Kh
    Kh ~~.
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    Amateur musicians practice until they get it right ...
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  12. #12
    Commodore con Forza Soubasse's Avatar
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    Hello, chaps. Been organist at Adelaide's Catholic Cathedral for the past 17 years or so. Was Organ Scholar at the Anglican Cathedral before that.

    Used to have a lovely Walker instrument, but have been suffering with a $%#&@ digital for the past 10 yrs while the administration make up one excuse after the next about why they're not doing anything about getting a reall instrument back inside the walls.

    There are three of us organists. One who does the Saturday and Sunday evening vigil masses and myself who does the Sunday morning Mass (9am) and often assisting at the High Mass as well (11am) although usually the Principal Organist does okay on his own. I honestly thought I had the chance to move up to Principal about 10 yrs ago, but somewhere amidst the confusion of the old organ being taken out and the digital coming in, the then director of music decided that this other chap was allowed in to the Principal chair. Anyway, the three of us usually share the load if one can't play on a particular weekend. We receive $35 per service and the Principal also gets a stipend for his troubles. I have only asked for a raise once in my entire time there and I'm seriously thinking about asking for another as the current administration exercises an unhealthy disrespect toward their organists.

    It's mainly hymns, mass setting and improvising. Always good practice.

    Matt
    Music is made to transform the states of the soul, for an hour or an instant (J. Alain)

  13. #13
    Recruit, Pianissimo
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    I guess I must live somewhere next to heaven. Going rate for a substitute organist for a service or wedding is US$200-250, often without the complication of a choir. Perhaps the difference is a strong local AGO chapter and an indigenous appreciation for good music.

  14. #14
    Admiral of Fugues Contratrombone64's Avatar
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    Matt - Hi!

    I love your erudite posting, we call the digital organs "blasphemy boxes".

  15. #15
    Commodore con Forza Soubasse's Avatar
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    That's not bad! I might try that next time I happen to be at a meeting regarding music at the cathedral (assuming I'm asked of course - the present administration clearly doesn't deem it necessary to have the organists at a meeting regarding cathedral music ... ).

    I tend to go with the flow and still refer to ours as a "Toaster" or occasionally, "The Appliance"
    Music is made to transform the states of the soul, for an hour or an instant (J. Alain)

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