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Safety Of Organists


TimEyles
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The Standing Committee of the church where I am DoM has just decided to ban all organists from playing alone in the church when the church is unlocked (including me). Since the policy is for the church to be unlocked during the daytime every day, this is rather limiting. They have also decided that organists under 18 should not be allowed to practise on their own even when the church is locked. I have two pupils in the latter category and a couple in the former. I should explain that the trigger for this decision was a person in the church last week showing a knife to a young lady who was practising (though not with any malicious intent, I gather). I have said I will resign from my post if this ruling and church opening policy are not amended to allow me and my pupils to practise reasonably freely.

 

Does anyone else have any experience of this sort of restriction?

 

Tim

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Hi Tim,

 

its easy to understand the church's concern, but the response does seem to be OTT. I'm sure many of us have on occasions been bothered by strangers in the church - especially those of us with consoles at ground level rather than in a secure loft. Its also easy to imagine that someone could catch us unaware, particularly when practicing at mf or above.

 

I would find it almost impossible to do any practice given the restrictions you have described and would have little alternative but to tender my resignation in a similar situation. I do hope common sense will prevail.

 

 

 

Neil

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So your church is open to the public with no warden (is that the correct word) around, and is the committee not concerned about possible damage or theft?

 

I don't think I would practise in my church when it's opened with no 'guards' around - mind you if something get's stolen, I'm not going to be liable/responsible (while / because of being there) ...

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So your church is open to the public with no warden (is that the correct word) around, and is the committee not concerned about possible damage or theft?

 

I don't think I would practise in my church when it's opened with no 'guards' around - mind you if something get's stolen, I'm not going to be liable/responsible (while / because of being there) ...

 

We had thefts from our church and now the PCC will not leave it unlocked without a `guard' about. There is no restriction on practice provided the door is kept locked if the organist is the only person about.

 

FF

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Tim - I sympathise wholeheartedly, and would react in the same way you have.

 

One has to point out their over-reaction to the authorities. However, practice is a thing private to oneself and one's instrument. I can quite believe that it would be a major inhibitor to a pupil to have to practice with someone else around.

 

As far as security of church fixtures and fittings is concerned, and I too play at a church which is left open during the day, I believe that is for the church authorities to deal with. It is not reasonable to load this responsibility onto a musician who is there for quite different, and 100% attention-requiring, reasons.

 

Having said all that, I have, in various churches, felt nervous when practising alone. However, it has usually been caused by hearing barbaric noises from outside (competing with those I'm making) which lead me to fear that the perpetrators will storm the building. Perhaps I've been lucky, but I'm never yet been made to feel approhensive by someone who has entered the building - except, perhaps, those holding specific office in teh organisation.

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Guest Lee Blick
However, practice is a thing private to oneself and one's instrument

 

Too right. I can't practice whilst other people are present. I don't want them to hear my grunts and groans and more importantly my swearing. It is Ok for those have their high lofty organs but for everyone else who have their organs open to all and sundry, I don't like the idea of someone creeping around me unnoticed.

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The Standing Committee of the church where I am DoM has just decided to ban all organists from playing alone in the church when the church is unlocked (including me). Since the policy is for the church to be unlocked during the daytime every day, this is rather limiting. They have also decided that organists under 18 should not be allowed to practise on their own even when the church is locked. I have two pupils in the latter category and a couple in the former. I should explain that the trigger for this decision was a person in the church last week showing a knife to a young lady who was practising (though not with any malicious intent, I gather). I have said I will resign from my post if this ruling and church opening policy are not amended to allow me and my pupils to practise reasonably freely.

 

Does anyone else have any experience of this sort of restriction?

 

Tim

 

Hi Tim!

Not exactly similar but the church with the nicest organ near me will not allow anyone who is not one of the (few) registered keyholders to practise locked in the church. if I want to go in (the church is mostly locked) I have to do so when the resident organist is doing her filing in the vestry or suchlike - she is a good friend of ours so would actully go in if I wanted to play. Apparently their insurance is reduced if this is the state of affairs. This is one reason for my getting an organ at home!

 

Alastair

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Having said all that, I have, in various churches, felt nervous when practising alone. However, it has usually been caused by hearing barbaric noises from outside (competing with those I'm making) which lead me to fear that the perpetrators will storm the building.

 

This happened to a very good friend of mine when he was practising in a Liverpool church during his university days in the city. He came out to find he was in the middle of the Toxteth riots and his motorbike had gone up in smoke! He locked himself back in the church and waited for things to die down.... it was a long wait.

 

Steve

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The Standing Committee of the church where I am DoM has just decided to ban all organists from playing alone in the church when the church is unlocked (including me). Since the policy is for the church to be unlocked during the daytime every day, this is rather limiting. They have also decided that organists under 18 should not be allowed to practise on their own even when the church is locked. I have two pupils in the latter category and a couple in the former. I should explain that the trigger for this decision was a person in the church last week showing a knife to a young lady who was practising (though not with any malicious intent, I gather). I have said I will resign from my post if this ruling and church opening policy are not amended to allow me and my pupils to practise reasonably freely.

 

Tim

 

 

I forgot to mention in my previous reply that your PCC can get very good advice on security (of both people and propery) from National Churchwatch. It's run by Nick Tolson, an ex police officer, and also formerly a verger at Wells. He has written several good manuals on safety and security for clergy and church workers, and also runs seminars and meetings, and will come to your parish to talk to the PCC, voluntary workers etc.

 

Churchwatch works on the principle that every church should aspire to have their building(s) unlocked and accessible, and that there are many ways and means of controlling this to make it as safe as possible for all concerned.

 

I have a slight bias as I know Nick. I was in school with his wife, and I played for their wedding! However, he doesn't hold either of those things against me, and has given valuable advice to our parish on these matters.

 

Contact him through their website:

 

http://www.nationalchurchwatch.com/

 

Steve

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I forgot to mention in my previous reply that your PCC can get very good advice on security (of both people and propery) from National Churchwatch. It's run by Nick Tolson, an ex police officer, and also formerly a verger at Wells. He has written several good manuals on safety and security for clergy and church workers, and also runs seminars and meetings, and will come to your parish to talk to the PCC, voluntary workers etc.

 

Churchwatch works on the principle that every church should aspire to have their building(s) unlocked and accessible, and that there are many ways and means of controlling this to make it as safe as possible for all concerned.

 

I have a slight bias as I know Nick. I was in school with his wife, and I played for their wedding! However, he doesn't hold either of those things against me, and has given valuable advice to our parish on these matters.

 

Contact him through their website:

 

http://www.nationalchurchwatch.com/

 

Steve

 

 

========================

 

 

We have become a nation of wimps!

 

I knew a vicar who had been a chaplain in the Navy. Faced with a burglar in church, he brought him down with a rugby tackle, and being rather large in stature (ie: fat as a bacon pig), he sat upon the unfortunate thief until the police arrived and carted him away in handcuffs.

 

I also recall the little old lady in Istria (former Yugoslavia), who stared at me beligerently when I asked if I could see inside the church, which happened to be covered inside with the most magnificent frescoes. She grabbed this enormous medieval key and like a jailer, unlocked the door. Without a word, she waited silently; hands on hips, watching my every move.

 

She was not a lady to argue with, I felt sure. She was big, ugly, embittered and with the upper-body muscle development of a bison.

 

I reckon all we need is the ecclesiastical equivalent to "the two fat ladies" in every church; each armed with a Victorian copy of the King James Bible.

 

This further reminds of the RC priest in Bradford, when of a Saturday night back in the 1930's, the Irish community would drink too much and then kick-off by having fist-fights in the streets. The police tried batons and co-ordinated horse-charges, but to no avail. In complete desperation, the chief of police would go cap in hand to the local Irish priest, who would put on his cassock and cotter, pick up his walking-stick and crucifix, and wade into battle; cracking heads and bestowing blessings as he went. He could bring a riot to an end within half-an-hour, and make sure that they all attended confession the next morning.

 

MM

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I knew a vicar who had been a chaplain in the Navy. Faced with a burglar in church, he brought him down with a rugby tackle, and being rather large in stature (ie: fat as a bacon pig), he sat upon the unfortunate thief until the police arrived and carted him away in handcuffs.

Of course today the burglar have him charged with assault.

 

She was not a lady to argue with, I felt sure. She was big, ugly, embittered and with the upper-body muscle development of a bison.
I believe had a course of deep tissue massage from this woman.
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Guest Lee Blick
Of course today the burglar have him charged with assault.

 

I believe had a course of deep tissue massage from this woman.

 

Oh dear. Now I have an image of you being mounted by this woman. Thanks. I am sure the ensuring screams would rename you as Vox Inhumana :unsure:

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That's all well and good, but wasn't there a story in the papers recently (or perhaps I was told by someone) of a vicar being stabbed in his church?

 

 

===========================

 

 

No problem!

 

A can of chemical mace on the organ console, and a 4ft wooden flute would be enough to deter most.

 

MM

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No problem!

 

A can of chemical mace on the organ console, and a 4ft wooden flute would be enough to deter most.

 

Actually, I came very close to a knife (not for the first time, I must add, but that's a whole other story) whilst practising (a rare event) at Lyndhurst.

 

The "organ" is stuck at the end of the choir stalls, such that the only way out is to either climb over stalls or to walk down the whole length.

 

This particular day, there's a chap who comes up and starts chatting to me whilst I'm playing. But the conversation makes no sense whatsoever, I can't remember the details, but if you imagine that I said "good afternoon" and he replied with "Shepherds' Pie", you get the idea.

 

Anyway, I quickly spotted he was a lump of mashed potato short of his shepherds' pie, and tried to get away in a convenient interval whilst he wandered off to stare intently, rocking backwards and forwards, at a chunk of brickwork. Unfortunately, I didn't manage to get my shoes back on before he'd come and stood at the end of the choir stalls, blocking me.

 

He started talking to me about his time in the penguin colony or whatever, and I'm making polite noises, trying to manoeuvre past to escape. At which point I notice he's holding a very large carving knife - one of those awful "The World's Sharpest Knife" things that look like they were invented by a particularly psycho ex-Marine, designed for removing all vital organs with a single flick of the wrist - just casually patting it against his leg.

 

Fortunately, after 45 minutes (no joke) of talking about the Martian cricket team, the poor guy's nasal haeomorrhoids and the fact that he used to be a film star until the penguins started taking all his work, he just wandered off.

 

I then had to walk past the chunk of brick he'd been staring it - only to find a very smelly yellow puddle to clear up.

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Actually, I came very close to a knife ......

 

 

Anyway, I quickly spotted he was a lump of mashed potato short of his shepherds' pie, and tried to get away in a convenient interval whilst he wandered off to stare intently, rocking backwards and forwards, at a chunk of brickwork.

 

 

===================================

 

 

I can empathise with this because I was once pinned up against a wall by a schizophrenic, who held a "Kitchen Devil" to my throat.

 

I obviously survived the ordeal, but so did he, and was fortunate enough to overcome his schizophrenia with quite a lot of help and support.

 

25 years on, and now living in Germany, he remains a close friend and wonderfully sane.

 

The problems start when we allow such a rare event to influence our decision-making and judgement, because such a thing could happen anywhere at anytime, or not, as the case may be.

 

Nevertheless, such an encounter is....shall we say....memorable?

 

MM

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Guest Lee Blick
===========================

No problem!

 

4ft wooden flute would be enough to deter most.

 

MM

 

For some it might be a 'come on'....

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It is very unfortunate that we have reached this state, when a Church is no longer regarded as "Sacred" ground. My own church is kept locked and many times when locking up I have been asked by people if they could pray, often then are very distressed.

We do have the building open on a regular basis for private prayer but how could 2 elderly ladies on the rota cope with something like this? The answer is they couldnt.

A friend of mine gives regular recitals at my church and has often been distracted by bangings on the doors in the evening which can be very un nerving, it seems the mindless "little" people find the steps good to sit on whilst consuming cans of lager.

This situation is very general, even security lights do not seem to deter them.

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A friend of mine gives regular recitals at my church and has often been distracted by bangings on the doors in the evening which can be very un nerving, it seems the mindless "little" people find the steps good to sit on whilst consuming cans of lager.

This situation is very general, even security lights do not seem to deter them.

 

 

==============================

 

 

I thought they had decided that playing "un-cool" classical music was a great deterent in the shopping malls?

 

Maybe your friend should play more Herbert Howells!

 

I'm outta here......

 

 

:unsure:

 

MM

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Guest Psalm 78 v.67
==============================

I thought they had decided that playing "un-cool" classical music was a great deterent in the shopping malls?

 

Maybe your friend should play more Herbert Howells!

 

I'm outta here......

 

 

MM

 

Has research revealed what effect Caleb Simper would have? :unsure:

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==============================

I thought they had decided that playing "un-cool" classical music was a great deterent in the shopping malls?

 

Maybe your friend should play more Herbert Howells!

 

I'm outta here......

:)

 

MM

 

Doesnt Vierne and Widor qualify?

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Has research revealed what effect Caleb Simper would have? ;)

 

 

=============================

 

 

It's bad enough having empty lager cans on the church-steps, without a sea of vomit as well.

 

MM

 

Doesnt Vierne and Widor qualify?

 

 

============================

 

Eh? What was that you said? "Will someone please shut those darned chamades off!"

 

MM

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