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Practice Costs - A Question


Guest drd

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I've been asked by an incumbent about a reasonable charge for someone to use the church's instrument for private practice.

 

The student in question is an adult, who wishes to take his AB GrVI on the instrument (already agreed by the incumbent), and is a student of mine.

 

I, though, am not the church's organist, but am a sort of artistic animateur for the place, seeking to make it into a venue for the arts, and ( also act as a kind of local consultant to the PCC about the instrument.

 

The instrument is a (slightly enlarged) Jardine, 3m+P, recently having had phase 1 of a comprehensive three phase restoration by Nicholsons.

 

The church is the main one, in a local town, of a united benefice of 10 parishes, and it is the PCC's plan if possible also to make it into a resource for musical training (particularly organ) in the area. There are very few comparable instruments in the area, if any, except at the cathedral some miles away.

 

Last time I personally paid for practice it was 50p per hour, and that felt steep. Varous figures have been mentioned by various people, and I've been asked to recommend a figure - but could do with some feeling for "wot others is charging'"!

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....Last time I personally paid for practice it was 50p per hour, and that felt steep. Varous figures have been mentioned by various people, and I've been asked to recommend a figure - but could do with some feeling for "wot others is charging'"!

 

50p expensive!? You can't get anything for 50p these days!!

 

Do you think that the church should subsidise practice?

 

In 1960 I paid 2/6 per hour for a large 3 manual in the centre of London, this was a fairly normal charge - adjusted by the RPI that comes to £2/hour in 2009.

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As I said, "Last time I personally paid for practice..." which was in 1971 on the South Coast.

 

I have no concern what the church subsidises or doesn't subsidise, I'm merely interested in what a consensus might recommend to the incumbent in this case as a reasonable range of charge.

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In our case, we had one of our young choirmen (who was one of my pupils at the time) practising for an hour or two each week - free of charge. In return, he sang regularly in our choir and was willing to help out as necessary. We regarded this as payment enough.

 

If your adult pupil does not fit into this category, it would be useful to know the following:

 

Does the church have to be unlocked for him to practise?

Does someone have to be present - or at least return and lock up after he has finished?

Is the church heated daily?

Is it necessary to use several lights (including halogen units), in order to practise - or do one or two suffice?

If not able to sing in a choir (assuming that there is one in the first place), is the student willing to help out with playing for services, if required?

Has the use of the organ been metered and costed per each hour of use?

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To answer those questions:

 

Does the church have to be unlocked for him to practise? No

Does someone have to be present - or at least return and lock up after he has finished? No

Is the church heated daily? No

Is it necessary to use several lights (including halogen units), in order to practise - or do one or two suffice? Just the console light, he practises in the daytime, when also the church is unlocked (so there could be some advantage in his being there to occupy the place, albeit for a shortish time.

If not able to sing in a choir (assuming that there is one in the first place), is the student willing to help out with playing for services, if required? There is no choir, but he does not have much knowledge of services. I think he would, though, if coached play for hymn-only services.

Has the use of the organ been metered and costed per each hour of use? Not as far as I know - part of the recent work has been to install a rectifier where there was none before. Thus, if any measurements had previously been taken they might be inaccurate now owing to the load of the rectifier, and the reduced load on the motor now not having to drive a generator of its main shaft.

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Tell 'em to be grateful that there are still people prepared to learn the damn thing and have them stand the few fractions of a penny per hour that this will cost them (there's a thread on here somewhere that did this calculation).

 

It'll do the organ good to be played anyway - might actually end up saving them money in the long run.

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Guest Roffensis
50p expensive!? You can't get anything for 50p these days!!

 

Do you think that the church should subsidise practice?

 

In 1960 I paid 2/6 per hour for a large 3 manual in the centre of London, this was a fairly normal charge - adjusted by the RPI that comes to £2/hour in 2009.

 

 

Given that a lot of students do actually go onto to parish work, I think churches should actively encourage use of their instruments for no fee, to further the cause. Not least considering the often rubbish fees one often has to suffer to enjoy the privilege of playing the 2 manual Corker and Blodge Organ, restored in loving memory of Arnold Toad, Churchwarden 1066 to 1902. Of course, we all know different. There's money to made, a sort of pre exploitation, to match the post. And let's be honest, the church loves giving.

 

Now, where did I put my Plectrum?......

 

 

R

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Provided a proper record is kept of all this, if the church at some time in the future wanted to have the organ rebuilt and they decided to apply to certain charities (I'm not sure which) for funding they would have a very much better chance of being considered for help if they could demonstrate that the organ was, and would remain, used by the wider community. Evidence that students, particularly those who were not necessarily worshippers at the church, were allowed to practice free of charge would help their case.

 

Malcolm

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In our case, we had one of our young choirmen (who was one of my pupils at the time) practising for an hour or two each week - free of charge. In return, he sang regularly in our choir and was willing to help out as necessary. We regarded this as payment enough.

When I lived in London one church at which I asked to practice was very happy to let me use the organ for free on condition that I joined the choir. I considered this a very fair and mutually beneficial arrangement.

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I have been known to help the church cleaners, and even help with the gardening in return for the use of the organ for practice. This is a more practical arrangement, and makes sure that money doesn't have to change hands either.

It also endears you to the parishioners and can have a beneficial effect when weddings and funeral come up from time to time!

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Guest Cynic

While I entirely agree with the various sentiments expressed above about The Church being generous and the desirability all round of making would-be organists welcome, it might be helpful to know what other places charge. I have in front of me the 2008 recital leaflet from Halifax Parish Church (a wonderful four-manual Snetzler/Abbot & Smith/H&H). They charge £3 per hour for booked practice, a minimum session being half an hour at £1.50.

 

In support of this charge, IMHO

1. it's definitely worth the money!

2. this would seem to me to be approximately what the electricity consumption would cost.

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Thank you Cynic. Not to derogate the other opinions above, which are all interesting to read and think about, that was exactly the kind of information whcih is going to be helpful to the incumbent in this case.

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Tell 'em to be grateful that there are still people prepared to learn the damn thing and have them stand the few fractions of a penny per hour that this will cost them (there's a thread on here somewhere that did this calculation).

 

It'll do the organ good to be played anyway - might actually end up saving them money in the long run.

 

I fully agree.

 

I have three examples.

 

1. Huge church in what was a sought after area. Contains an early 1900's 2 Man Binns organ, which has been maintained well and not messed about with. I approached the vicar last year with a view of practising the organ. He said fine. He had a key cut for me and I play for regular services, weddings and funerals. Furthermore the Vicar wants the organ to be used more and for more musicians to use the available space. Because I don't play there every Sunday it's amazing to hear how much they like to hear the organ.

 

2. Rather the same as number one but with a 1898 J W Walker organ - also untouched.

 

3. Hope I'm not being greedy but I helped to restore an August Gern organ 4 years ago a asked if they would mind me playing the organ in exchange for a service. Fine they said we'll ask the Bishop

 

As a tuner and player it's of great advantage if organs are played regularly and it's even been commented in one tuning book from one of the above organs. So I agree that it will save money in the long run and improve reliability.

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I would DEFINITELY NOT be in favour of charging for the use for organ practice ... but I wouldn't expect that to be a one-sided arrangement, and I think that a little organistic help every now and then wouldn't go amiss :rolleyes:

 

Just thinking of this reminds me of the debt of gratitude I owe to various churches and chapels in North Wales where I was welcome to practice (for almost all the hours that the Lord God sent) with ne'er a mention of a charge.

 

Alas, however the organ in this Parish is atrocious and not many people are clambering to play it! (Not even/especially not ME!) After all with a Wyvern Mega Toaster, why go out into the cold night air???

 

Q

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In Holland, paying to play organs is normal. I know places where you pay EUR 25 per hour. One of the great things I've always found about Britain is the (comparatively) generous culture among organists in granting access to their instruments. In the situation discussed here, we're talking about an adult who wants to improve his playing and who may provide a useful talent to the church (in general) in future. I think its a shame, given how little it will cost the church, to insist on his paying to be able to practise, they should see it as an investment in their own future!

 

Bazuin

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Guest Cynic
In Holland, paying to play organs is normal. I know places where you pay EUR 25 per hour. One of the great things I've always found about Britain is the (comparatively) generous culture among organists in granting access to their instruments. In the situation discussed here, we're talking about an adult who wants to improve his playing and who may provide a useful talent to the church (in general) in future. I think its a shame, given how little it will cost the church, to insist on his paying to be able to practise, they should see it as an investment in their own future!

 

Bazuin

 

 

I entirely agree. Indeed, any church who proposes to continue to employ an organist in the future should ask themselves what they do to encourage a further generation of players.

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I have been known to help the church cleaners, and even help with the gardening in return for the use of the organ for practice. This is a more practical arrangement, and makes sure that money doesn't have to change hands either.

It also endears you to the parishioners and can have a beneficial effect when weddings and funeral come up from time to time!

 

At least you would be unlikely to use a vacuum cleaner during your own practice sessions....

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While I entirely agree with the various sentiments expressed above about The Church being generous and the desirability all round of making would-be organists welcome, it might be helpful to know what other places charge. I have in front of me the 2008 recital leaflet from Halifax Parish Church (a wonderful four-manual Snetzler/Abbot & Smith/H&H). They charge £3 per hour for booked practice, a minimum session being half an hour at £1.50.

 

In support of this charge, IMHO

1. it's definitely worth the money!

2. this would seem to me to be approximately what the electricity consumption would cost.

 

Are you sure? This seems very expensive, just to run a three-phase blower (presumably) and a couple of lights. Has anyone calculated and taken meter readings?

 

:wacko:

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In Holland, paying to play organs is normal. I know places where you pay EUR 25 per hour. One of the great things I've always found about Britain is the (comparatively) generous culture among organists in granting access to their instruments. In the situation discussed here, we're talking about an adult who wants to improve his playing and who may provide a useful talent to the church (in general) in future. I think its a shame, given how little it will cost the church, to insist on his paying to be able to practise, they should see it as an investment in their own future!

 

Bazuin

 

I recall the same generosity towards visitors on the Continent twenty years ago, when a polite advance postcard or phone call - or even a knock on the door - would allow access for a humble 'britischer Hobbyorganist' to many quite wonderful historic organs.

 

Things have changed over the years, and, for example, on a return visit to South Germany next month, I find that the more prestigious churches are charging a fee for 'Orgelbesichtigungen', in some case as much as 60 -80 euros for small groups, though presumably less for individuals.

 

JS

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The cost should be relatively easy to calculate if you know what the rating of the blower is, what rating any lighting and heating or cooling is, and the cost of electricity.

 

So, according to the White Blower Manufacturing site, a 1.5 hp motor is adequate for supplying 3.5" of pressure to an organ if 47 stops. This can be supplied by a motor that draws 12 amps which equate to 2.88 kilowatthours. (All these calculations are for Australian voltage and power costs.) Add in a couple of hundred watts for lighting and supply to the console and round it up to be generous, say 3.2 kwh.

 

That equates to 46 cents per hour - £0.22

 

Where I am DoM, the organ is wonderful for Psalm accompaniment, improvisation and Darke in E and so on, but I much prefer a mechanical action instrument for my regular practice, and travel cost and time to my church is high during the week. I benefit from three churches that allow me to practice on their instruments for no charge. In each case, I try to make this worthwhile. I'll offer incumbents at these churches first dibs on any weddings that I can't do, or make myself available for any funeral services during the week that they are unable to attend. For one church, I didn't charge for playing for a recital to mark the anniversary of their organ and of their church, and so on.

 

We have also never charged for making my instrument available for use, in fact, it has been encouraged. We need more organists in this neck of the woods!

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As has been said, the monetary value of the electricity consumed will be, on average, pretty minimal. I repay my practice time with filling in for services when required. This has saved the church paying for deputies: in fact, I'll almost certainly be the one out of pocket. This has proved to be a perectly satisfactory arrangement.

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I recall the same generosity towards visitors on the Continent twenty years ago, when a polite advance postcard or phone call - or even a knock on the door - would allow access for a humble 'britischer Hobbyorganist' to many quite wonderful historic organs.

 

Things have changed over the years, and, for example, on a return visit to South Germany next month, I find that the more prestigious churches are charging a fee for 'Orgelbesichtigungen', in some case as much as 60 -80 euros for small groups, though presumably less for individuals.

 

JS

 

I'm visiting Munich/Regensburg later this year, and might be interested in taking up this idea of 'Orgelbesichtigungen'. Do you know any places in that area that advertise such things publicly, or is it a matter of contacting the church authorities?

 

Many thanks, D. Lucas.

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With all due respect to the fact that drd asked for what other places charge, I think it would be reasonable for him to pass on also the fact that the actual cost to the church of said practice would be pence per hour, at least one order of magnitude less than people might tend to assume, very relevant if the vicar's objective is simply not to be out of pocket.

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Thanks contrabordun, that is what I have done - putting, I hope, the arguments advanced here fairly.

 

The person concerned is happy to pay a reasonable fee, and the incumbent was asking a reasonable question - my own information from personal experience was very out of date, hence the question on here!

 

The instrument has, as I said, had phase 1 of some fairly major work done late last year, and so financial questions related to the organ are at the forefront of the thinking of the incumbent, the PCC, and the organ sub-committee. Having said that, the incumbent is keen for music to play a prominent part in the life of the parish, and also for the building to be seen as a venue for music and other arts in the town because it brings people in.

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