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What Future Is There For The Iao And Local Associations?

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I was alarmed to learn that Huddersfield, with its extrordinary artistic heritage, had lost the local organist's association; once one of the best and most flourishing in the country.

 

It begs a question; or perhaps a set of questions:-

 

 

a) Should the nature of OA's change?

 

b ) Should they enter the cyber-age?

 

c) Should they become regional rather than local?

 

d) Should they lean more towards the social or the academic?

 

e) Should they include more in the way of performing-art events?

 

f) What role would the IAO play?

 

 

 

You get the idea........answers on a piece of 3-stave manuscript paper.

 

MM

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Guest drd

a) Should the nature of OA's change? Yes

 

:unsure: Should they enter the cyber-age? Absolutely, no time now for awaiting snailmail, attending far flung committee meetings, etc., when they could be conducted more efficiently by teleconferencing, and other techniques. They should embrace web2 or even web 4 facilities to entice new members, and to make it easier for existing members to keep in touch - fairly continuously, rather than at infrequent, poorly attended events of limited appeal.

 

c) Should they become regional rather than local? Yes, provided the points above are implemented, along with similar.

 

d) Should they lean more towards the social or the academic? Personally, I think academic - what they should not be is ghettos for organ anoraks, making music is the important thing.

 

e) Should they include more in the way of performing-art events? Yes, linked to academic themes, as above.

 

f) What role would the IAO play? Advice, coordination (no point same themes being presented in neighbouring OAs, etc..)

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I have been a member of the Darlington & District ( organists & choirmaster) Assoc for a number of years, we have an active membership, and the diary is always atractive to those who attend, both public events and members events. We have a website built and looked after by Richard Hird.here I believe it was our 50th aniversary 2006 and still going strong (ish)

Regards

Peter

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A few years ago, the church I played at had a substantial rebuild of a large 4 manual instrument. It caused a certain amount of interest from local associations who could visit us, a number of other organs of interest and the organ builder in the town. Over 18 months or so, we probably hosted about 12 such visits (including the American HS on their European Tour). There was a huge variety of numbers and ages involved in the visits, some more geographicly spread than others. They ranged from only 12, mostly elderly people who had a great time getting a free organ recital and short talk (but of a very low standard of playing when they had the chance), to one of about 35 men, women and a handful of teenagers, all eager to have a go and brough substantial repertoire that they could play.

 

I concluded that organisations differ very widely up and down the country. As a student in Edinburgh, we had a fantastic society (its still going!), enough meetings, visits and socials that made students welcome and they ran a dep list, which was very useful for looking for holiday subs.

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Over 18 months or so, we probably hosted about 12 such visits (including the American HS on their European Tour). There was a huge variety of numbers and ages involved in the visits, some more geographicly spread than others. They ranged from only 12, mostly elderly people who had a great time getting a free organ recital and short talk (but of a very low standard of playing when they had the chance). ....

I didn't have the opportunity of playing the organ (or any keyboard regularly) until I retired. Now I have joined the local association, have been on two tours overseas, and I'm learning to play, very much helped by a church a few hundred yards away with an organ they let me use for practice almost every week-day. At 65 one doesn't learn very quickly! I was just getting to the stage where I was thinking that I might cautiously try playing organs on one of these trips - just something short and simple on some quiet stops.

 

Guilmant's post makes me wonder whether "elderly people" "of a very low standard of playing" are considered an asset for a local association or a liability.

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Guilmant's post makes me wonder whether "elderly people" "of a very low standard of playing" are considered an asset for a local association or a liability.

There must be a place for such people (like me, too); but it can't be heathy for the future if they are the main body of the society.

 

Paul

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I didn't have the opportunity of playing the organ (or any keyboard regularly) until I retired. Now I have joined the local association, have been on two tours overseas, and I'm learning to play, very much helped by a church a few hundred yards away with an organ they let me use for practice almost every week-day. At 65 one doesn't learn very quickly! I was just getting to the stage where I was thinking that I might cautiously try playing organs on one of these trips - just something short and simple on some quiet stops.

 

Guilmant's post makes me wonder whether "elderly people" "of a very low standard of playing" are considered an asset for a local association or a liability.

Oops, humblest apologies, it wasn't supposed to be either, just a statement of fact. As it happens, they were all very polite, asking for advice on registration etc, and most of them bought a copy of my cd as well. So I certainly didn't mean to imply they were a liability, sorry.

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They ranged from only 12, mostly elderly people who had a great time getting a free organ recital and short talk (but of a very low standard of playing when they had the chance)...

Come, come, there were more of us than that!

 

But, yes, associations do vary enormously. As indicated ours is very aged. We have about seven student members who have mostly been enrolled in the association whether they want to be or not. The association does little to inspire or encourage their enthusiasm other than ask them to give a joint recital occasionally. I am going to have to do something about this, but it is increasingly becoming the case that if I don't do things nobody else will and, frankly I'm getting sick of it.

 

Most of our members recognise only two criteria for a good organ - it must make nice, glutinous, churchy sounds and do a smooth build-up. I have heard both a super little II/P T. C. Lewis of 1879 and one of William Drake's finest disparaged simply because neither meet these criteria. When the committee is arranging our programme of events the commonest comment is (and I kid you not), "How about going to **** - it's got a nice Hele". I can think of only two, perhaps three, members whose tastes are more catholic.

 

Most of this aging brigade seem not to have computers, or, if they have, to be not at all adept at handling them. No question of entering the cyber-age for them. Not their fault - it's just how it is.

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I have heard both a super little II/P T. C. Lewis of 1879 and one of William Drake's finest disparaged simply because neither meet these criteria.

 

I think I know the latter organ, and am reminded of a visit several years ago with our local OA, of which I used to be a member. Various disparaging comments were made about it, and lots of silly comments and questions along the lines of "Why hasn't it got a swell pedal?", "Where are the strings?", "Why do they build something like this in this day and age?" and "Why did they build it with tracker action and not electric?" :rolleyes:

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And don't forget "It's a bit lacking in variety/body [delete as appropriate] at 8' pitch"! Yes, it is the organ you're thinking of. It is quite simply the best instrument in Devon and Cornwall (and I don't forget Truro Cathedral).*

 

* It is of course quite possible that there is some hidden gem somewhere of which I am entirely unaware , but if there were I strongly suspect news of it would have leaked before now.

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I missed the recent Manders Open Day, but when the Forum had its little expedition to Marlborough a number of people commented on how like a local OA outing (but without the committee hassle) it felt. I subscribe to ours and go along occasionally, but frankly, this Forum is fun, informative, allows a daily fix and if I'm going organ crawling I'd rather arrange it privately and get a good long stint playing.

 

So maybe, the local OA faces competition from virtual OAs

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I've certainly got more out of this forum in the past few weeks, than nearly 10 years out of my local association. Great that this is free, and the other costs £15 a year.

 

David

I agree with this. Thank you to our generous hosts, and to all who post herein. Long may it continue. :rolleyes:

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Given that our hosts do this for nothing, do we not think it appropriate to chip in to ensure the thing keeps going? What would be a reasonable sum? £3, £5?

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I agree with this. Thank you to our generous hosts, and to all who post herein. Long may it continue. :rolleyes:

 

I think there is a most important future for the IAO & local associations, working hand-in-hand with other organisations

I do feel quite strongly about this and think we would do well to take a more considered view of what the IAO and local associations achieve, specifically & more generally - reaching those who for example cannot or do not wish to subscribe as a member of the RCO

 

It is my impression that there are more than a few associations that do a tremendous job, work hard at "outreach" - that realise there are benefits to be had from having a "presence" on the web ie having their own website - that cater for a wdie & differing constituency of members.

Yes, it isn't always easy when you are running a society with a group of volunteers -

Our Local Association will clock up its centenary later this year, and I am optimistic that we spend time thinking about how we can promote the organ and its music, not being content to plan the same format of events each year.

 

I do enjoy the 'chat and information gleaned from discussion groups like these, but we ought to remember that our own individual experience is but a very small slice of the "bigger picture"

 

Best Wishes

 

Philip Lowe

Oldham, Rochdale & Tameside Organists Association

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Guest drd

I think that, now, having a 'presence' on the web (if it is, for example, someone's hand-coded effort) is no longer good enough when trying to attract and retain newer, younger members.

 

They are used to very slick sites (which are not all that difficult to generate, particularly now int he days of opensource) which conform AT LEAST to the principles of Web2.0.

 

It's important, for these purposes, that websites have some degree of interactivity and are seen rapidly to change content, rather than be static 'noticeboards'. Fortunately, doign this enriches the experience for others, too.

 

Ultimately, the opportunities for creating a community out of a disparate body of organist which such technology offers fit particularly well with our profession, where people often find it hard regularly to meet. If such can be used also by associations for recruitment, and for dissemination and discussion of ideas (forum and blog technology, it is easy to set up either of these) then so much the better. Links between associations and other bodies can also be eased and enhanced by designing the right sort of website.

 

However, overall, the message is that an amateurish website will not be seen as putting an association in a good light.

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However, overall, the message is that an amateurish website will not be seen as putting an association in a good light.

I agree with that. My own website cost a few hundred to set up, and has definately paid for itself over the past 18 months. I think it looks pretty professional, and is updated regularly. It would be not bad thing for associations to consider getting websites set up professionally, seeing it as an investment.

 

David

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Guest drd
I agree with that. My own website cost a few hundred to set up, and has definately paid for itself over the past 18 months. I think it looks pretty professional, and is updated regularly. It would be not bad thing for associations to consider getting websites set up professionally, seeing it as an investment.

 

David

 

Yes, it's no longer the case that a well-meaning, but unskilled, amateur in these matters is likely to be able to create the sort of website which has real impact. Nevertheless, I suspect a lot of organisations will have someone in or near their circles who is skilled enough to do so, particularly, as I say, in these days of opensource. In other words, it need not cost hundreds, and may with luck merely be the cost of hosting.

 

As with anything else, caveat emptor, and look for examples of someone's work in these matters whether amateur or professional, and judge accordingly. Having a reasonably clear idea of what an association wants in the first place (in terms of appearance, navigability, content, updatability, archival, interactivity, graphics) is essential. To that list I would add, vitally, to have an understanding of the kind of audience(s) the association wishes to attract to its site, and of the practicalities of the myriad of presentation styles on the web is more than desirable.

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I think there is a most important future for the IAO & local associations, working hand-in-hand with other organisations

I do feel quite strongly about this and think we would do well to take a more considered view of what the IAO and local associations achieve, specifically & more generally - reaching those who for example cannot or do not wish to subscribe as a member of the RCO

 

It is my impression that there are more than a few associations that do a tremendous job, work hard at "outreach" - that realise there are benefits to be had from having a "presence" on the web ie having their own website - that cater for a wdie & differing constituency of members.

Yes, it isn't always easy when you are running a society with a group of volunteers -

Our Local Association will clock up its centenary later this year, and I am optimistic that we spend time thinking about how we can promote the organ and its music, not being content to plan the same format of events each year.

 

I do enjoy the 'chat and information gleaned from discussion groups like these, but we ought to remember that our own individual experience is but a very small slice of the "bigger picture"

 

Best Wishes

 

Philip Lowe

Oldham, Rochdale & Tameside Organists Association

 

Hi

 

Did you do anything special for the centenary? I ask because I am President-Electg of the Bradford Assoc - and our centenary falls during my term of office - so we are looking for ideas. PM if you'd prefer.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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I belong to a good Association, but sadly almost all the events organised coincide with my own musical activities. Therein lies the problem; those of us who are always musically involved are seldom able to support OA events. However, the "Organists' Review" (subsidised from the annual OA subscription) is always a good read; even if it's not quite as good as when Paul Hale was editor.

 

In my teens I was the ultimate organ-anorak, and would travel miles to see, or better, to play an instrument. In those days information on organs was often hard to come by. However, today the NPOR web site is a great "armchair comfort" as details of instruments are easily available, and so the aged organ-anorak can be rather better informed about the instruments which an OA might visit.

 

Given the sad demise of Parish Church music and the active discouragement of anything which smacks of tradition, is it the case that Associations in Cathedral cities fare best?

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In my view the key feature that makes an association thrive is that it has members who are prepared to put a lot into running it. Anything else is secondary. Of course, an association with a large membership is more likely to have such members, and will thus tend to thrive.

 

Being in an organists' association is rather like going to the pub with your friends. Unless at least some of you are prepared to get up and go to the bar, none of you will get much out of it. Who would be to blame? All of you!

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