Easter 2024

20 June 2007
organist - shortage of part-time

Presumably, Sally Casto does not mean to say that part-time organists are working full time as organists, but, rather, as something else.

"Part-time organists are now working full-time jobs," [Sally] Casto said. She said it's hard to find new organists because the ones working today "haven't done a good job with recruiting."

Hawes, Jane. "Music pipeline". The Columbus Dispatch. 15 June 2007.

Well, if Sally says that I'm not recruiting, I better get on that. Anyone want to take lessons? Email me.

Part of the problem today is that the job of church organist "rarely pays a living wage," said Robert Griffith, an organ music professor at Ohio Wesleyan University. Many supplement their income by also serving as church music directors.

Yes, because "church music directors" really make a living wage.

This coming from an "organ music professor". Is that really what it says on his door? Prof. of Organ Music?

This "music director" vs. "organist" is a strange distinction in the ecclesiastical soundscape, and its one that the profession doesn't really understand, so why should the author of this article?

The distinction deserves a little more examination. Certainly the position of "church music director", as completely separate from the organist, requires little to no technical skill or musical expertise. It's the nerdy, brooding, internet-savvy, awkward, poorly dressed, shy "church organist" that the average congregation has a harder time getting to know and value. The organist is the one who must be trained -- extensively -- but doesn't get paid or get the prestige of being "music director", whatever that is.

This is a false distinction. I don't know how these "music directors" weaseled their way into our little profession, but I think it's high time they learn how to play the organ or leave.

Bach wasn't known as a music director, but as an organist. And he was very full-time, thank you very much.

The organ is the traditional instrument of the church, and it should act as church music's gateway drug. If you can play the organ, you're qualified to get in. And I mean reasonably well. I'm not talking about virtuosity here. If you can't play the organ, you probably work at a megachurch, not that there's anything wrong with that.

At least, that's where I want you to work. Preferably part-time.

Photo admiration: I love the lead photo in this article taken by Chris Russell (above). I'm seeing it with an organists eye, though. It's a little too tightly framed to really be sure that it's an organ. If you know that we're talking about organists, however, it works beautifully.


Actually, after Bach moved to Cothen, he was no longer employed as "organist." This was certainly true in Leipzig at the Thomaskirche, where he was employed as Kantor. The man supposedly did not play the organ often for liturgies in Leipzig...this duty was given to a lesser "organist."
Actually, Bach was known more as an organ (the actual mechanics of the instrument) expert more than an organist OR a composer. I'm thinking of a great organist here in town who is called "Kantor" ---his duties are to conduct the choir (any idiot can do that) and play the organ (good luck finding a "Music director" who can do that.)
Also, I have a very hard time believing that the great organ works written in Leipzig were not played by the Master himself.
Bach not an organist???? Are you completely psychotic and delusional. Bach played the organ when not standing to conduct (most of the time). Bach=organ. That was his primary instrument, you nut!!!

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