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Its a sort of ecclesiastical karaoke - Mayhew offers a number of different pre programmed choices. You then plug it into the PA system and behold you have 'backings' for all your choral needs at the touch of a finger on the ipod - surely every church needs one......!

 

AJJ

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Come on! Why don't you go the whole bit?! :lol:

 

I was disappointed that it didn't also come with:

 

"No Clergy? No Problem! 1 and 2"

"No Congregation? No Problem!"

 

Looking around on the Mayhew web site I also came across Essential Wedding Music for Manuals which claims to be "A player-friendly collection for manuals which contains all the most-requested pieces" including, apparently, "Toccata from Symphony No. 5 - Widor". I just can't imagine what that must be like ... :lol:

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Come on! Why don't you go the whole bit?! :lol:

 

It might even be getting to the point where we organist types don't even need to go to the church - with a PC one end and another the other end the music can be loaded and played with a quick click of the mouse! Seriously - does anyone know of a church where this sort of thing is happening.

 

Putting cards on the table - we do use backing CDs on occasions at the school where I work. Some are extremely well done and provide an added dimension to choral/vocal music where the same effect as in the 'big wide world' is required. Last concert for example my choir did some 'straight' numbers some unaccompanied some with with piano etc. and as a finale did a more up beat piece using CD, microphones - the complete works etc. and it sounded really impressive. The students are always surprising at their adaptability and broad appreciation of whatever they are asked to do. Some also turn up at singing lessons with a CD backing if they are doing a more 'pop' song. They are allowed to do this as long as they do the 'technique' stuff as well. In this situation the CD backing is just another stylistic medium...but in church...!!!

 

AJJ

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Guest Patrick Coleman

In all seriousness, I can see several situations where this would be useful, and know of some cases where this has become a solution.

  • Places where clergy/congregations are so temperamental/unreasonable that no musician will work with them
  • Places where musicians are so temperamental/unreasonable that no clergy/congregation will work with them
  • Tiny country parishes that want more to their services than an elderly lady grinding out hymns on a harmonium
  • Places that might develop their own musical resources but have lacked the proper advice or imagination to make their own music happen

Speaking for myself, I would not want to serve in a parish there this was the only musical input, but I am fortunate to have the personnel and the resources at hand to make and encourage live music.

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In all seriousness, I can see several situations where this would be useful, and know of some cases where this has become a solution.
  • Places where clergy/congregations are so temperamental/unreasonable that no musician will work with them
  • Places where musicians are so temperamental/unreasonable that no clergy/congregation will work with them
  • Tiny country parishes that want more to their services than an elderly lady grinding out hymns on a harmonium
  • Places that might develop their own musical resources but have lacked the proper advice or imagination to make their own music happen

Speaking for myself, I would not want to serve in a parish there this was the only musical input, but I am fortunate to have the personnel and the resources at hand to make and encourage live music.

 

Hi

 

Sometimes it's a case of "better than nothing" - it's not only country churches that have problems with musicians! I know of 2 churches in this part of Bradford that regularly use pre-recorded backings for services - one I know is a struggling inner-city parish with shrinking numbers, no musicians apart from a guitarist, and are maintaining a fairly middle-of-the road Anglican service - and they have thought through the recordings issue and do it pretty well. The other is an evangelical Anglican church - and the backings they used at the one service I attended were appalling.

 

I've just taken on pastoral responsibility for a small inner-city church (in addition to Heaton) - there is a competent pianist (no organ since they moved out of their previous church building about 30 years ago) - but she's elderly and finding life increasingly difficult. If she's not there, then possible the daughter of one of the congregation will play - and failing that, it's down to using MIDI files. It's that or no music (a cappella really isn't an option).

 

I've also used MIDI files here a couple of times, when I've been tied up leading the service and not able to help the musicians, and I've wanted a song or hymn that's beyond the very limited capabilities of my piano player.

 

Sometimes, we need to take a pragmatic view - but that shouldn't stop us encouraging live music wherever possible - and maybe churches should be paying for youngsters to have organ lessons if we want organists in the future.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Hi

 

Sometimes it's a case of "better than nothing" - it's not only country churches that have problems with musicians! I know of 2 churches in this part of Bradford that regularly use pre-recorded backings for services - one I know is a struggling inner-city parish with shrinking numbers, no musicians apart from a guitarist, and are maintaining a fairly middle-of-the road Anglican service - and they have thought through the recordings issue and do it pretty well. The other is an evangelical Anglican church - and the backings they used at the one service I attended were appalling.

 

I've just taken on pastoral responsibility for a small inner-city church (in addition to Heaton) - there is a competent pianist (no organ since they moved out of their previous church building about 30 years ago) - but she's elderly and finding life increasingly difficult. If she's not there, then possible the daughter of one of the congregation will play - and failing that, it's down to using MIDI files. It's that or no music (a cappella really isn't an option).

 

I've also used MIDI files here a couple of times, when I've been tied up leading the service and not able to help the musicians, and I've wanted a song or hymn that's beyond the very limited capabilities of my piano player.

 

Sometimes, we need to take a pragmatic view - but that shouldn't stop us encouraging live music wherever possible - and maybe churches should be paying for youngsters to have organ lessons if we want organists in the future.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

Hi Tony.

 

I couldn't agree with you more!

 

Q

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Hi

 

Sometimes it's a case of "better than nothing" - it's not only country churches that have problems with musicians! I know of 2 churches in this part of Bradford that regularly use pre-recorded backings for services - one I know is a struggling inner-city parish with shrinking numbers, no musicians apart from a guitarist, and are maintaining a fairly middle-of-the road Anglican service - and they have thought through the recordings issue and do it pretty well. The other is an evangelical Anglican church - and the backings they used at the one service I attended were appalling.

 

I've just taken on pastoral responsibility for a small inner-city church (in addition to Heaton) - there is a competent pianist (no organ since they moved out of their previous church building about 30 years ago) - but she's elderly and finding life increasingly difficult. If she's not there, then possible the daughter of one of the congregation will play - and failing that, it's down to using MIDI files. It's that or no music (a cappella really isn't an option).

 

I've also used MIDI files here a couple of times, when I've been tied up leading the service and not able to help the musicians, and I've wanted a song or hymn that's beyond the very limited capabilities of my piano player.

 

Sometimes, we need to take a pragmatic view - but that shouldn't stop us encouraging live music wherever possible - and maybe churches should be paying for youngsters to have organ lessons if we want organists in the future.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

Hi Tony.

 

I couldn't agree with you more!

 

Q

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This does seem to be a case of double-standards to an extent. Patrick and Tony's comments are very valid - being pragmatic, these products have a use on a week-to-week basis, and no-one has ever accused Kevin Mayhew of missing a commercial opportunity.

 

Morally (and in the long-term, practically) however, surely these things spell disaster in a number of ways:

 

1) A church that scraps a pipe-organ and replaces it with an electronic to, say, 'free up space' for an inter-faith healing salon and creche, is very unlikely to reverse that change. The pipe organ and the space has gone, and getting them back would be difficult. In the same way, replacing even a mediocre player with a recording is going to make it very difficult to revert to live music. The people and knowledge, the sheet music, possibly even the instruments, may have gone, never to return. It's a one-way street.

 

2) A church without regular decent musicians is likely to be the target for a product like this. By using pre-recorded music, the church are essentially opting out of live music and therefore lose any interest in supporting and training the next generation of musicians. The problem of a musician shortage is exacerbated, not alleviated.

 

3) A system like this is never going to produce an acceptable standard of church music, compared to what we KNOW to be possible and desirable in worship. A system like this, therefore, is going to render music as worthless and totally irrelevant wallpaper, capable of being generated at a verger's touch of a button. The last vestiges of engagement between congregation and music is lost to a pocket-size gadget.

 

4) Recordings don't answer back. Agreed, no hissy fits or demands for fees, but no feedback and collaboration on musical planning either. I doubt KM have a system which generates error messages such as "Error: processional hymn with fewer than four verses selected!" or "Error: this hymn is suitable for Epiphany, not Harvest Festival. Try again". How about "Message for visiting preacher: this congregation doesn't know this hymn".

 

5) I cannot think of a church, lacking a suitable and competent preacher on a particular occasion, which has opted to use a pre-recorded sermon rather than suffer rambling unstructured drivel from some random waffler. Given that, even in small churches, most sermons are delivered through loudspeakers anyway, surely there would be nothing to lose and everything to gain...and yet no-one would dare.

 

I know plenty of churches who suffer from a shortage of musicians, and virtually none of them have done anything to encourage or support the education of musicians. Some of them couldn't even organise a key for organ practice. Surely if you don't give, you don't get.

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But not all churches (or clergy) fit into the stereo-types you list and seem to take for granted as typical. For example I wouldn't mind music at our mid-week service and at our 8am service when no organist is available, but I'd sooner fly to the moon than get rid of a real live (capable) organist if one were available. And yes, we do allow free use of the organ to learner organists.

 

I think that it is the endless snipes at clergy (assuming that we are all tarred with the same brush, that we all preach dull sermons, and walk roughshod over our parish colleagues) that do more harm than anything else and cause offense when it really is so un-necessary. Perhaps it's time for the clergy to start whining about ALL those organists who hate us, and who in any case don't bother to practice, and who insist on playing their Victorian hymns too fast or too slow or too high or too low. And who do all their power to be awkward when a <whisper> more modern hymn</whisper> is requested :lol:

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moon than get rid of a real live (capable) organist if one were available. And yes, we do allow free use of the organ to learner organists.

 

I think that it is the endless snipes at clergy (assuming that we are all tarred with the same brush, that we all preach dull sermons, and walk roughshod over our parish colleagues) that do more harm than anything else and cause offense when it really is so un-necessary. Perhaps it's time for the clergy to start whining about ALL those organists who hate us, and who in any case don't bother to practice, and who insist on playing their Victorian hymns too fast or too slow or too high or too low. And who do all their power to be awkward when a <whisper> more modern hymn</whisper> is requested :lol:

 

If this is how clergy see us, it's sad; maybe it's time more of us did something about it. Yes, it's a fact that there are organists who conform to this model; I know of some, but not all of us do, the same way that most clergy aren't control freaks. Almost certainly as usual it's the few that give the rest a bad name, while the majority just get on and do the job. So what can the average parish organist (which is how I would class myself) do something about it, i.e. change perceptions? Any ideas anyone? Or perhaps I'm wrong and most organists are awkward old b*****s. R.

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If this is how clergy see us, it's sad; maybe it's time more of us did something about it. Yes, it's a fact that there are organists who conform to this model; I know of some, but not all of us do, the same way that most clergy aren't control freaks. Almost certainly as usual it's the few that give the rest a bad name, while the majority just get on and do the job. So what can the average parish organist (which is how I would class myself) do something about it, i.e. change perceptions? Any ideas anyone? Or perhaps I'm wrong and most organists are awkward old b*****s. R.

 

Or maybe most organists and most clergy are awkward old b*****s.

 

But I'm not...

 

:lol:

 

Q

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Or maybe most organists and most clergy are awkward old b*****s.

But of course some of us are neither old nor awkward!

 

I think that it is the endless snipes at clergy (assuming that we are all tarred with the same brush, that we all preach dull sermons, and walk roughshod over our parish colleagues) that do more harm than anything else and cause offense when it really is so un-necessary. Perhaps it's time for the clergy to start whining about ALL those organists who hate us, and who in any case don't bother to practice, and who insist on playing their Victorian hymns too fast or too slow or too high or too low. And who do all their power to be awkward when a <whisper> more modern hymn</whisper> is requested.

I hardly think I was sniping at clergy, let alone in an endless way. Perhaps I've inadvertently touched a nerve? Not all clergy preach dull sermons - some are superb. My point was that no-one I know of has seriously proposed the replacement of a less-than-competent clergyperson with a blinking tape-recorder, let alone marketed a product specifically for the purpose!

 

Yes, there are many less-than-competent organists out there, and yes, many musicians are awkward. But if organists are viewed as human jukeboxes, why are we surprised? The fact is that, generally speaking, the Christian churches of this country are investing next to nothing in music and musicians, and that, viewed country-wide, the standard of music in the average parish church falls far, far short of our best efforts. If I'm handed a 'more modern' hymn three seconds before it's due to be sung, and it turns out to be some dusty relic of the seventies charismatic movement, 'words and music' by some self-taught guitarist who thinks that an invocation of the name of the Holy Spirit is a perfectly valid substitute for musical ability, then yes, I'm going to be disappointed. And why? Because offering such third-rate meritricious nonsense in an act of worship makes me feel like I'm betraying Him who gave me the gift of musicianship in the first place.

 

To me, it's common sense. Using pre-recorded 'music' in an act of divine worship has to be scraping the barrel, and we have to have gone seriously wrong to have reached that stage. It may be pragmatic to advocate its use now, but it's only deferring the problem until it becomes truly insurmountable. This is NOT sniping at clergy, many of whom I have the highest respect for. But a lack of musicians points towards a lack of investment in musicians and a lack of purpose about music. The solution may not be easy, but it is clear.

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But of course some of us are neither old nor awkward!

I hardly think I was sniping at clergy, let alone in an endless way. Perhaps I've inadvertently touched a nerve? Not all clergy preach dull sermons - some are superb. My point was that no-one I know of has seriously proposed the replacement of a less-than-competent clergyperson with a blinking tape-recorder, let alone marketed a product specifically for the purpose!

 

Yes, there are many less-than-competent organists out there, and yes, many musicians are awkward. But if organists are viewed as human jukeboxes, why are we surprised? The fact is that, generally speaking, the Christian churches of this country are investing next to nothing in music and musicians, and that, viewed country-wide, the standard of music in the average parish church falls far, far short of our best efforts. If I'm handed a 'more modern' hymn three seconds before it's due to be sung, and it turns out to be some dusty relic of the seventies charismatic movement, 'words and music' by some self-taught guitarist who thinks that an invocation of the name of the Holy Spirit is a perfectly valid substitute for musical ability, then yes, I'm going to be disappointed. And why? Because offering such third-rate meritricious nonsense in an act of worship makes me feel like I'm betraying Him who gave me the gift of musicianship in the first place.

 

To me, it's common sense. Using pre-recorded 'music' in an act of divine worship has to be scraping the barrel, and we have to have gone seriously wrong to have reached that stage. It may be pragmatic to advocate its use now, but it's only deferring the problem until it becomes truly insurmountable. This is NOT sniping at clergy, many of whom I have the highest respect for. But a lack of musicians points towards a lack of investment in musicians and a lack of purpose about music. The solution may not be easy, but it is clear.

Well all I would say is just try running a parish and see what you make of it....

 

And I'd bet that it wouldn't be too long before you too were rushing out for Mr Mayhew's new ipodthingie! ;)

 

(not that I have Mr Mayhew's ipodthingie.... )

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Whilst I recognise the realism of Janner's post, it is not only depressing: it is defeatist and paints an unnecessarily gloomy picture.

 

A church does not have to fund organ lessons on its own. There are diocesan schemes for assisting with the cost of organ lessons. Our local one pays a third of the price, the church another third and the trainee the last third. A year's lessons with our local teachers (FRCOs and ARCOs) would cost about £200, which would would be £67 per party per annum, or not much more than £1 a week. If there isn't a diocesan scheme (and if not, why not?) then there's the local organists' association (or the IAO if there isn't a local association). If they haven't got any money of their own they ought to know about funds that do (the Brereton Fund, for instance).

 

Janner seems to be saying that there's no point in his parish paying for lessons for youngsters because they won't stay around long enough for his parish to benefit, although he admits that someone else's parish might. Boy, you guys in those villages must be really pissed off at paying taxes to send the local kids to school, only for somebody else (if anyone) to reap the benefit! I mean, in a small village where the number of youngsters can be counted on one hand, the chances of one of them becoming a heart surgeon must be only marginally better than the chance of winning the national lottery.

 

The difficulties are very real: I do not deny that. Efforts to overcome them may or may not be successful. But using the difficulties as an excuse to do nothing isn't likely to achieve the desired objective. And you might just enrich some kid's life, even if the exercise doesn't get you an organist in thirty years' time.

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Well all I would say is just try running a parish and see what you make of it....

 

And I'd bet that it wouldn't be too long before you too were rushing out for Mr Mayhew's new ipodthingie! ;)

That's a fair point, Quentin, and I wasn't suggesting that individual churches were responsible. Serious things need to happen at a higher level - the problem is that nothing much is happening now. If anything, it affects clergy more than musicians, as it forces parishes into settling for third-best.

 

The difficulties are very real: I do not deny that. Efforts to overcome them may or may not be successful. But using the difficulties as an excuse to do nothing isn't likely to achieve the desired objective. And you might just enrich some kid's life, even if the exercise doesn't get you an organist in thirty years' time.

 

Precisely. Done on an appropriate scale, results will be achieved. Some of the national organisations are doing good things. The RCO have introduced the CertRCO as a (IMHO) useful stepping-stone in education, there is quite a range of training courses (from the RSCM, Sarum College, Oundle, London Organ School etc.) but nothing from the Church authorities tying organ and other music tuition to churches. In the last diocesan music day I attended, they were more interested in Gospel singing and African drumming than anything immediately practical in a mostly-rural diocese. And if theological colleges have snipped out any substantial reference to music in clergy training, then we're all left disenfranchised, clergy, musicians and congregation alike.

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This does seem to be a case of double-standards to an extent. Patrick and Tony's comments are very valid - being pragmatic, these products have a use on a week-to-week basis, and no-one has ever accused Kevin Mayhew of missing a commercial opportunity.

 

Morally (and in the long-term, practically) however, surely these things spell disaster in a number of ways:

 

 

5) I cannot think of a church, lacking a suitable and competent preacher on a particular occasion, which has opted to use a pre-recorded sermon rather than suffer rambling unstructured drivel from some random waffler. Given that, even in small churches, most sermons are delivered through loudspeakers anyway, surely there would be nothing to lose and everything to gain...and yet no-one would dare.

 

Hi

 

Recordered sermons have been around for years - and are occaisionally used - and one of the English Baptist associations (not Yorkshire thankfully) has just recorded a batch of sermons for use by its (many) smaller churches.

 

The situation has gone even further with some US churches that "meet" on multiple sites, where the "big preacher's" sermons are recorded (in a video format) and either transported physically or via the internet - or even sattelite - to the outlying congregations for use the same day. The idea doesn't appeal - even though I now have 2 churches to look after.

 

Incidentally, if anyone feels like donating a small organ to my second church, get in touch. There is no spare money (they are currently running at a defecit and drawing on reserves every year) - and the current "instrument" is among the worst digital pianos that I've played.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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