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Good morning all!

 

I've started a new topic here: following on from the wedding problems and consistency threads!

 

Hoping (possibly) to gain a DoM position soon I am interested in knowing more about organists' contracts.

 

What should go in them?

 

What should not go in them?

 

Pay/sick pay/fees/use of organ/fianl say for permission to play etc etc

 

How many of the august members here have contracts?

 

Are you satisfied/unsatisfied?

 

Have you felt the need to renegotiate?

 

I feel sure there is a tide of information about to descend on this board!! Thanks!

 

CL.

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Guest Cynic
Good morning all!

 

I've started a new topic here: following on from the wedding problems and consistency threads!

 

Hoping (possibly) to gain a DoM position soon I am interested in knowing more about organists' contracts.

 

What should go in them?

 

What should not go in them?

 

Pay/sick pay/fees/use of organ/fianl say for permission to play etc etc

 

How many of the august members here have contracts?

 

Are you satisfied/unsatisfied?

 

Have you felt the need to renegotiate?

 

I feel sure there is a tide of information about to descend on this board!! Thanks!

 

CL.

 

Good morning father.

Contracts - I think the subject is best covered in Dr.Barry's Williams' book - 'Everything else an Organist should know'.

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Everything-Else-Or...w/dp/0955074908

 

My own opinions on the matter:

1. Far more important than anything on paper is that you actually respect each other. The best contract in the world will not improve an unpleasant post.

2. The RSCM can provide a standard agreement form. This covers such things as use of the organ by others, entitlement to Sundays off etc.

3. You should watch a priest in action before you sign on, also chat to the previous organist for his/her opinion, these preparations will not be wasted.

 

My own experiences range from working for an out-and-out crook* (now departed this life), through clergy with high ideals but absolutely no clue to some whose consistent characteristics bordered upon sainthood. Unfortunately, you get good and bad in every profession. Which (naturally) includes our own too.

 

 

*CAUTION! Off at a tangent! Sorry, can't resist it.

 

Not naming church or vicar (although now dead and therefore laws regarding defamation/slander etc. do not apply) I just cannot resist telling this story in order to indicate the sort of people that can sometimes find their way into the priesthood. The vicar to whom I refer once confided his spiteful little joke to me: this was that one of his wardens (still alive today, to the best of my knowledge) was counting pews and wondered why the church no longer sat as many people as it used to. This was a critical question to the churchwarden, since she wanted to show that (amongst other things) the church had potential as a concert venue, it was under threat of closure! The vicar's proud boast to me was that he had sold several pews without her knowledge. This is profoundly dishonest in two ways - first of all, they were not his to sell. Second, if he obtained any funds by this method, these cannot have got into the church coffers. Of course, it also undermined the best efforts of his churchwarden too (though this is not illegal)!

 

Said 'gentleman' was very high on Synod, became a Canon of the cathedral and (finally) converted to Rome.

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Good morning all!

 

I've started a new topic here: following on from the wedding problems and consistency threads!

 

Hoping (possibly) to gain a DoM position soon I am interested in knowing more about organists' contracts.

 

What should go in them?

 

What should not go in them?

 

Pay/sick pay/fees/use of organ/fianl say for permission to play etc etc

 

How many of the august members here have contracts?

 

Are you satisfied/unsatisfied?

 

Have you felt the need to renegotiate?

 

I feel sure there is a tide of information about to descend on this board!! Thanks!

 

CL.

Barry Williams book "Everything else and organist should know" will put you on the right track. During a recent interregnum the PCC wanted to alter my contract they even consulted the Archdeacon who agreed that they could, until I quoted several extracts from this book, Ive never seen an Archdeacon back track so quickly!!!!

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Good morning father.

Contracts - I think the subject is best covered in Dr.Barry's Williams' book - 'Everything else an Organist should know'.

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Everything-Else-Or...w/dp/0955074908

 

My own opinions on the matter:

1. Far more important than anything on paper is that you actually respect each other. The best contract in the world will not improve an unpleasant post.

2. The RSCM can provide a standard agreement form. This covers such things as use of the organ by others, entitlement to Sundays off etc.

3. You should watch a priest in action before you sign on, also chat to the previous organist for his/her opinion, these preparations will not be wasted.

 

My own experiences range from working for an out-and-out crook* (now departed this life), through clergy with high ideals but absolutely no clue to some whose consistent characteristics bordered upon sainthood. Unfortunately, you get good and bad in every profession. Which (naturally) includes our own too.

*CAUTION! Off at a tangent! Sorry, can't resist it.

 

Not naming church or vicar (although now dead and therefore laws regarding defamation/slander etc. do not apply) I just cannot resist telling this story in order to indicate the sort of people that can sometimes find their way into the priesthood. The vicar to whom I refer once confided his spiteful little joke to me: this was that one of his wardens (still alive today, to the best of my knowledge) was counting pews and wondered why the church no longer sat as many people as it used to. This was a critical question to the churchwarden, since she wanted to show that (amongst other things) the church had potential as a concert venue, it was under threat of closure! The vicar's proud boast to me was that he had sold several pews without her knowledge. This is profoundly dishonest in two ways - first of all, they were not his to sell. Second, if he obtained any funds by this method, these cannot have got into the church coffers. Of course, it also undermined the best efforts of his churchwarden too (though this is not illegal)!

 

Said 'gentleman' was very high on Synod, became a Canon of the cathedral and (finally) converted to Rome.

 

 

Thanks Cynic that's-as usual-good advice. I will delve a little more closely.

 

Your off at a tangent story is amusing. I don't suppose it was a clergyman know for his flamboyant dressing and equally so liturgies; in a very large southern diocese with a rather small (though ancient) cathedral; in a large commuter town with "fast trains" from London "every forty minutes"-as the adverts used to say...?

 

CL

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Guest Barry Williams

I hope our Moderators will not mind my mentioning that copies of 'Everything Else an Organist Should Know' are available to those on this Board at the reduced price of £14 including postage and packaging. (The usual price is £17.)

 

If you wish to purchase a copy please send me a private email with your name and snail mail address. A copy will be posted with an invoice.

 

Barry Williams

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  • 5 months later...
Just a note to report that the new draft form of Organist Contract and accompanying Notes are now available free as a downloadable PDF from this Website:

 

http://www.organistpublications.co.uk/Index.html

Please look under 'Guidelines'.

 

I am sorry it has taken so long to make these available.

 

Barry Williams

In the notes to the contract it states:

"First, it clarifies exactly what the church and the

organist can expect from each other, so there is no argument later on whether the

organist should play for a service on Ash Wednesday or arrange for the organ to be

tuned."

but there seems to be no mention of tuning in the draft contract.

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Guest Barry Williams
In the notes to the contract it states:

"First, it clarifies exactly what the church and the

organist can expect from each other, so there is no argument later on whether the

organist should play for a service on Ash Wednesday or arrange for the organ to be

tuned."

but there seems to be no mention of tuning in the draft contract.

 

 

 

Strictly, the organist is not responsible for arranging the tuning and maintenance of the organ and pianos. The organ and pianos are part of the church's "plant", just like the boiler and pews. Whoever is responsible for the plant is responsible for the organ and pianos. In the Church of England, this responsibility rests with the churchwardens.

 

In practice, it is sensible for the organist to be involved in the process, as the organist is best placed to know what needs to be done. It is therefore recommended that this function be delegated to organists.

 

Barry Williams

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There is a wonderfully helpful form on the AGO website, although I recall that I had to search hard to find it last time I needed it, that helps to adequately quantify the time required for a position. I found this enormously helpful when discussing my current appointment with the vicar, and in drawing up the contract. This was also instrumental in the remuneration being changed to a much more appropriate level than it had been. There are so many little things that consume time, for which remuneration is appropriate, that are far too easy to forget about when drawing up a contract.

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Strictly, the organist is not responsible for arranging the tuning and maintenance of the organ and pianos. The organ and pianos are part of the church's "plant", just like the boiler and pews. Whoever is responsible for the plant is responsible for the organ and pianos. In the Church of England, this responsibility rests with the churchwardens.

 

In practice, it is sensible for the organist to be involved in the process, as the organist is best placed to know what needs to be done. It is therefore recommended that this function be delegated to organists.

 

Barry Williams

 

I have worked in a country where the culture is that the organist is responsible, even to the extent that it is expected that the organist will keep the reed ranks in tune. This has the wonderful benefit that the organ maintainers do more than just tune the reeds when they come for their scheduled visits. But then, Orgelkunde was a required subject for all organists.

 

In my current country, where we do not have so many organists who have all had that level of training, most organ firms are horrified at the thought that we might ruin the instrument. But at some level, with so much of their financial turnover based on regular tuning visits, I suspect that they are worried that they will lose revenue. However, I would prefer that more time is given to other aspects that I'm not competent to attack, thus benefiting all concerned.

 

In Australia, when a day might start at 18 C and by lunch time be over 40 C, I make sure that I have permission to touch up the reeds before a recital, or there is someone competent to do this who will be present, before I agree to give a recital, particularly in smaller churches or when the positioning of the organ makes it more vulnerable to temperature variation.

 

But then, my 'other' instrument is harpsichord, and I'm used to setting a temperament and tuning the instrument before a performance.

 

In my city's premier concert venue, a piano technician is always used both before a performance and during the interval, but try and persuade the venue management to call an organ tuner in before the organ is used...

 

Are other board members who are organists comfortable doing this? How do the board members who normally maintain instruments feel if they know that the organists are properly trained?

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Guest Barry Williams

Organists tuning reed stops is commonplace occurance on the continent. However, the reeds there are usually much more accessible than in this country.

 

Clambering around tight organ chambers to 'knock a few reeds in tune' sounds like a disaster waiting to happen - not just from the health and safety point of view, but also from the tuning. It is not as simple as that.

 

Barry Williams

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