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    Frederik Magle
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Any other Catholic church organists here?

kas

New member
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
 

Thomas Dressler

New member
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
 

_music_4_ever_

New member
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.
 

Thomas Dressler

New member
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! :)
 

kas

New member
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
 

_music_4_ever_

New member
Thomas Dressler said:
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...




 

Thomas Dressler

New member
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
 

Krummhorn

Administrator
Staff member
ADMINISTRATOR
. . . . . 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. :cool:
 

Contratrombone64

Admiral of Fugues
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.
 

Krummhorn

Administrator
Staff member
ADMINISTRATOR
Contratrombone64,

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

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

Kh
 

Soubasse

New member
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
 

skinnerphile

New member
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.
 

Soubasse

New member
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 ... :confused: ).

I tend to go with the flow and still refer to ours as a "Toaster" or occasionally, "The Appliance"
 
I am no church organist, just a student. For now although they have been friendly with giving me access to the organs here there is definitely not a friendly attitude toward an organ blaring (or even whistling the flute stops) when peoeple enter the church for whatever their event is (This is in Uruguay or Argentina and therefore Catholic churches). I don't know how much involvement is given to thje organist during Mass service in Catholic church but I presume it is very little. I do not think there is much attention at all toward the organ in the Catholic church and have even come across priests here who heavily disagree with this kind of mindset. Maybe it's a regional thing but I don't see the Catholic Church as the best environment for the organist.
 

Krummhorn

Administrator
Staff member
ADMINISTRATOR
Hi PraeludiumUndFuge,

It depends on the parish ... the one I played in here in the US was very savvy towards the organ (III/94) and music in general. We also had a 54 voice adult choir that did the likes of Mozart's Coronation Mass - a real workout for the organist, for sure.
Holy Week was an organists nightmare - chock full of music the entire week - Holy Thursday was a 90 minute Mass with 65 minutes of choral/organ music - Holy Saturday was the same. I was given the freedom to play what I wanted for a Prelude before Mass, but they seemed to prefer more meditative pieces.

I'm not there anymore, but I still remain in contact with some parishioners as well as the music director and organist and they have continued the music traditions that were put into place years ago.

Kh
 

Soubasse

New member
I do not think there is much attention at all toward the organ in the Catholic church and have even come across priests here who heavily disagree with this kind of mindset. Maybe it's a regional thing but I don't see the Catholic Church as the best environment for the organist.

With the present administrative personel where I am, I'm afraid I agree with you. However, as Krummhorn pointed out, it does depend on the parish (and to a degree the country). I couldn't imagine the sort of quiet disdain we're treated with here happening somewhere like Paris or Rome where the tradition is obviously still strong.
 
Hello guys,
I too am a catholic church organist, and it is true that sometimes I was treated like some kind of music-box, but lately I found another church where they asked for my service, and they are showing quite a lot of interest and also give me a certain freedom regarding the hymns etc used during the liturgy. I definitely agree with thomas dressler that playing at church helps to tackle the problem of "learning to play in front of people"; I'm commenting about this because I experienced it, i feel much more confident now, than two years ago when i first started playing in churches.

Besides, I get paid around Lm2 every Mass, so that's about 5 euros. But i don't really care about the money honestly, i play for the glory of God and for my enjoyment, the pay is a bonus! that's how i look at it!

Regards,
Matthew.
 
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Thomas Dressler

New member
Interesting turn in this discussion. Wow, Krummhorn, that was quite the Catholic church job!

Where I work now (Catholic church), they do like good music, but it's an education process that has been ongoing for about 20 years or a little more. The organist there years ago started them on the journey, and now those people have such a taste for good music that if you DON'T do it, they complain. They love to hear Bach, and I often get requests to "play something by Bach." Last year I started another step towards educating them by printing up a weekly music program, something along the lines of a Protestant "bulletin." I print out exactly what I'm playing and what the choir is singing, and if it's in a different language I print the translations. (The choir sings in English, Latin, German, and French.) This is unusual for a Catholic church, at least in this area. For years the only guide they had to the music was the hymn board in the front with the numbers on it. They LOVE these sheets, and it has raised the amount of participation and singing. The other thing they like is that I usually print a paragraph about the music, talking about composers or the pieces--some kind of little fun educational thing. A couple weeks ago a man stopped me and told me how much he liked that. He was reading a book about Henry VIII, and it mentioned Thomas Tallis, and he was excited that he actually KNEW something about Tallis from those blurbs! It's a lot of work on my part for no additional pay, but I find it very rewarding, because it is bringing an even greater appreciation for music in this parish. It's a very nice place to work for a classical organist, and it's Catholic! :)
 
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