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Peter Clark

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^^

 

I suppose if you put it that way - the restaurant analogy, I mean.

 

I have sinned twice in this regard but only because I was asked to do it and it never occurred to me that payment would be expected for work carried out by someone else. I shall be more careful in the future.

Not sure if I could persuade the management here to adopt the practice, though. I am only too pleased if someone else takes on the burden, as long as I am not expected to provide a key to the building or show them how to switch the thing on.

 

If the visiting organist is unaware of the protocols for this, bear in mind they may also be hazy on the going rate for the gig and also the supplement for video recordings. I'm still summoning up the nerve to request more than an extra tenner for a video recorded wedding. Must also start charging a fee when presented with a photocopied piece of popular music that has to be learnt in time for the occasion.

 

As an aside, any ideas for appropriate music for a combined wedding/baptism ceremony? ;)

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Wouldn't it be illegal to condone and benefit financially from a breached copyright?

It's conceivable that the photocopy be a completely legal copy of a piece and edition not protected by copyright. I get angry when I see that logo of a photocopier with a big X over it and the slogan "Photocopying music is illegal" - sometimes it is, sometimes not.

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This is a very interesting topic, a few weeks ago I had a Wedding that only wanted cds played, they were informed by the Rector that they had to pay my fees in full and the video fee as it was deemed to be loss of income on my behalf. When they realised the cost they came back to the organ!!!! My contract is very clear over this matter.

That sounds good. On the odd occasion when I've been asked to stand aside for another organist to play, I've not received the video fee, having been told that the incumbent thought it unreasonable.

 

Over the last couple of years or so I've had one wedding where they asked the church's 'music group' (basically a keyboard which plays MIDI files as nobody in the music group has any keyboard skill), a trumpeter and a couple of singers) to provide the music instead, and another where they decided not to use the organ after they were told that I would charge a retainer fee and got their 'organist' friend to play the piano instead (I hear he mangled the music, so goodness only knows what he'd have done on the organ). In both these cases I didn't get paid a fee because the incumbent said that the organ wasn't being used.

 

Do fellow board members think that a retainer should be paid when the organ isn't used at a wedding, and do they think that it's reasonable to be paid a video fee if the wedding is videoed, even if one isn't playing oneself? I'd be interested in hearing others' views. ;)

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It's conceivable that the photocopy be a completely legal copy of a piece and edition not protected by copyright. I get angry when I see that logo of a photocopier with a big X over it and the slogan "Photocopying music is illegal" - sometimes it is, sometimes not.

That wasn't my point. I was not suggesting that all photocopies are illegal, but often when you are handed one it is. As you say, sometimes it is, sometimes it is not.

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I would imagine that there are relatively few churches that employ a competent organist who would insist on being paid whether or not he/she played for the wedding, but that the majority of people on this forum who play the organ for weddings fall into the professional or at least pretty high standard category, hence why so many here are defensive of the practice of charging for not playing.

 

In all the weddings I've ever played for I can't ever remember the matter of paying the church's regular organist their due having arisen. Many of the weddings I play for are for friends, often in evangelical churches that tend to lack their own organist, and for whom I don't charge a fee (as invariably I get invited to the reception I consider that due reward in itself!). Weddings I play for where I don't know the couple I would expect to be paid a fee at the going rate, though again these are usually not at my regular church but by word of mouth and I'm usually asked to play by friendly local vicars who don't have their own regular organist and need someone who can "play the Widor". Thus most weddings I've ever played at have not been in churches with celebrated music traditions and resident organists to consider. (The one time I've played for a wedding in a cathedral, it was a Catholic caethdral doing conveyor-belt weddings and the organist was only too happy to take a break...).

 

In practice perhaps this matter doesn't arise in all that many churches?

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I would imagine that there are relatively few churches that employ a competent organist who would insist on being paid whether or not he/she played for the wedding, but that the majority of people on this forum who play the organ for weddings fall into the professional or at least pretty high standard category, hence why so many here are defensive of the practice of charging for not playing.

 

In all the weddings I've ever played for I can't ever remember the matter of paying the church's regular organist their due having arisen. Many of the weddings I play for are for friends, often in evangelical churches that tend to lack their own organist, and for whom I don't charge a fee (as invariably I get invited to the reception I consider that due reward in itself!). Weddings I play for where I don't know the couple I would expect to be paid a fee at the going rate, though again these are usually not at my regular church but by word of mouth and I'm usually asked to play by friendly local vicars who don't have their own regular organist and need someone who can "play the Widor". Thus most weddings I've ever played at have not been in churches with celebrated music traditions and resident organists to consider. (The one time I've played for a wedding in a cathedral, it was a Catholic caethdral doing conveyor-belt weddings and the organist was only too happy to take a break...).

 

In practice perhaps this matter doesn't arise in all that many churches?

 

Agreed. As an amateur parish organist who endeavours to provide the best possible music within my limited capabilities, I have never asked for a fee in lieu of my services when the couple require another organist (or CD player) to accompany the service. In my experience such a request generally occurs when a member of the family (or close friend) plays the instrument. When playing away from home I always warn the hopefully happy couple that they may also be required to pay the resident organist who may be acting professionally.

 

Whilst I may not be dependent on such things for an income, I am always aware that others are.

 

Tony

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Guest Stanley Monkhouse

Thank you Mr Price. Very helpful. This is the situation many churches are in: amateur organists. Additionally, many organists give their Sunday services free of charge, despite encouragement to take a fee and give it back. Of course, proper fees are charged for weddings where they play. My question many posts back was - what about, in such circumstances, when they don't have to play because someone (or something) else is, when their Saturday afternoons are not ruined by another wedding when nobody listens and nobody (except the clergy) sings? These are facts of life for many mutually supportive organists and clergy, like it or not. If it's illegal to play from a photocopy, how can it be proper to take a fee for work not done? Do we await Daily Telegraph style exposés? I emphasise, I am talking about those (many) situations where there is nothing in print about wedding (or any other) fees. I sign off on this matter now, no further forward really. Most of the board contributors seem to write from the position of being employed on a contract which specifies entitlement to fees. I don't know whether I'm glad, or not, that I'm not the Vicar of such establishments. As I said, when I was an organist (it was never my principal source of income) I was delighted to find a Saturday unexpectedly free of weddings.

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I am inclined to agree with Justadad that anyone with much organ-playing experience would be well aware of the pitfalls of turning up to play without first talking to the organist - not least the possibility of finding the organ locked and no-one knowing where to find a key.

 

An acquaintance of mine played at Norwich cathedral for his son's wedding a couple of years ago. He had to go for an audition, and was required to play through his pieces for one of the resident organists. They had him play the Widor toccata on the flutes until a voice from the bottom of the stairs shouted "tell him to give it some welly"!

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^^

 

 

 

As an aside, any ideas for appropriate music for a combined wedding/baptism ceremony? :D

 

Hi

 

One parish in Essex that I used to play weddings & funerals for over 10 years ago was doing combined weddings & baptisms then. I just charged the same as a straight wedding - the same amount of music was involved.

 

Anyway, I often only found out about the baptism element when it happened during the service!

 

As to a video fee when you're not playing, I would say that it's not right - the video fee is, in effect, a payment for performers rights - if you're not performing then you're not entitled to a fee. I remain unconvinced about "bench fees" in general, but realise that contracts do sometimes specify them, and when it's part of the organists' income, then maybe it's OK.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Thank you Mr Price. Very helpful. This is the situation many churches are in: amateur organists. Additionally, many organists give their Sunday services free of charge, despite encouragement to take a fee and give it back. Of course, proper fees are charged for weddings where they play. My question many posts back was - what about, in such circumstances, when they don't have to play because someone (or something) else is, when their Saturday afternoons are not ruined by another wedding when nobody listens and nobody (except the clergy) sings? These are facts of life for many mutually supportive organists and clergy, like it or not. If it's illegal to play from a photocopy, how can it be proper to take a fee for work not done? Do we await Daily Telegraph style exposés?

 

Around my area the custom always was, and still is, that if there is a resident in post, then they are entitled to a fee. However, your point about "how can it be proper to take a fee for work not done?" and 'Daily Rag' exposes, (how did you manage to insert that 'accent'?), is a very good one.

 

This raises a question, is the fee actually for work not done, or for some other less obvious reason? There are other examples; I am thinking of at least two wedding receptions I have attended where the groom provided the champagne, but the hotel still charged 'corkage', ostensibly to cover the 'cost' of removing the corks, but more likely, I suspect, to recover some of the profit they lost in not providing the article. On second thoughts, perhaps that is a little unjust; they did chill the stuff as well!

 

Perhaps our legal expert, if he were still a member, could have enlightened us further on this important aspect of the matter.

 

Another side effect of course is that making a charge anyway could deter people, most likely the 'twice in a lifetime' churchgoers, from shopping around for the 'cheapest quote' as is fashionable in everything else nowadays. Of course it's understandable that organists may wish to play for children, siblings, friends etc. There are perfectly genuine and acceptable reasons for this, but that is quite different to some mercenary or unscrupulous individual building up a nice 'Saturday round' sideline by undercutting the regular fees, to the detriment of the local resident organists. That would be quite unacceptable in my view.

 

I am talking about those (many) situations where there is nothing in print about wedding (or any other) fees. I sign off on this matter now, no further forward really. Most of the board contributors seem to write from the position of being employed on a contract which specifies entitlement to fees. I don't know whether I'm glad, or not, that I'm not the Vicar of such establishments. As I said, when I was an organist (it was never my principal source of income) I was delighted to find a Saturday unexpectedly free of weddings.

 

Here it makes no difference if there is no formal contract, the custom is contract enough, although obviously if the practice were to be proved illegal, then 'custom' would be no defence.

 

Having said all that, our resident organist has always waved her fee when not playing, although she has always advised friends or relations, when asked to play for them elsewhere, that there may still be a charge.

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If it's illegal to play from a photocopy, how can it be proper to take a fee for work not done?

 

I don't quite follow this logic.

 

If it is the church organist's prerogative to play for weddings then of course he gets the fee. And why shouldn't he/she have that right?

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If it's illegal to play from a photocopy, how can it be proper to take a fee for work not done?

 

It isn't actually - it's making the copy that may (or may not) be illegal. However ...

 

The reason you can't make photocopies willy-nilly is that the law of the land says you can't, and it has to be complied with.

 

The reason an organist gets paid for a wedding he doesn't play for is that he (presumably) has a contract saying he will play for it and be paid, and that, too, has to be complied with.

 

The situation is really no different from arriving at work and finding the boss's son doing your job for the day: they can't dock you a day's pay.

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I am inclined to agree with Justadad that anyone with much organ-playing experience would be well aware of the pitfalls of turning up to play without first talking to the organist - not least the possibility of finding the organ locked and no-one knowing where to find a key.

 

An acquaintance of mine played at Norwich cathedral for his son's wedding a couple of years ago. He had to go for an audition, and was required to play through his pieces for one of the resident organists. They had him play the Widor toccata on the flutes until a voice from the bottom of the stairs shouted "tell him to give it some welly"!

 

I do always take the precaution of contacting the church beforehand if the wedding is an unfamiliar venue to make sure the organ will be openable! As for checking out the condition of the organ, that has been enhanced enormously since NPOR went online, though even that doesn't guarentee a suitable repertoire. One wedding I played at, the organ had a spec of 16 peds, Gt 8 8, Sw 8 4. Still the bride insisted on the Widor. I played it through with her in another church, first on full organ, then on just 8 flues. "This is how it will sound in your church". "Fine". OK no problem - as long as the couple are aware of the limitations of the instrument, it's their day and I'll play most things if I have to (notably recently Stevie Wonder, which was well received....)

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I've just been told that I am not needed for a wedding on Saturday. Having had decorators in my flat, and the subsequent mess, I assumed I had lost the paperwork referring to the wedding so I phoned the bride. She said that they had their own organist and didn't the priest tell me? Nhe did not, I said. Two points here: why was I not told and, perhaps more importatly, why did the guest organist not contact me as a matterof courtesy? I have always thought in an unwritten rule in the church organ world that if you are playing for a service an another church you approach the resident - at least that is what I've always done. Am I being pedantic here?

 

Peter

I recently learned of a case where the organist was asked if he would do a wedding for no fee; it turns out that the couple concerned had a price from the registry office and asked the vicar if it could be matched by the church. Vicar, ever keen to get these people through the door, came up with this as part of a 'package'... What would be your response?

 

R.

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Guest Patrick Coleman
I recently learned of a case where the organist was asked if he would do a wedding for no fee; it turns out that the couple concerned had a price from the registry office and asked the vicar if it could be matched by the church. Vicar, ever keen to get these people through the door, came up with this as part of a 'package'... What would be your response?

 

R.

 

b*****r them :D

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I get angry when I see that logo of a photocopier with a big X over it and the slogan "Photocopying music is illegal" - sometimes it is, sometimes not.

I have a Ricordi score that was published in 1895, and is now considerably out of copyright. A few years ago it was reprinted with no change to the plates, and the © 1895 notice unchanged, but with the "Photocopying music is illegal" notice added; this practice, and other ways of claiming copyright in public domain material, is known as "copyfraud"

 

Paul

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I tend to think that couples are sometimes keen to bring their own organist because they assume their 'friend' will be better than whoever the churches own organist is. This is more likely to be the case in country areas where none of us can be sure of the organists abilities if we don't know the church. A wedding couple therefore certainly can't be expected to have much idea either.

 

A visiting organist once struggled badly with the organ at my local church. They hadn't played a pipe organ much before and had to cope in this case with a detached console connected with pnuematic action, keys that don't always return and a tired pedal action that occassionally requires a swift visit into the organ chamber to put a piece of paper under a pipe foot! They must have felt it was like sailing the QE2 with no steering. I did get a message to them to warn them about the organ. But I did this out of courtesy, not in a vain attempt to put them right off.

 

John R

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I tend to think that couples are sometimes keen to bring their own organist because they assume their 'friend' will be better than whoever the churches own organist is. This is more likely to be the case in country areas where none of us can be sure of the organists abilities if we don't know the church. A wedding couple therefore certainly can't be expected to have much idea either.

 

If they wish to be married in that church then it is not unreasonable to expect them to have visited it a few times in order to suss out this kind of thing. Most do, if only to hear their banns (by which time it's probably too late!)

There are those who feel this sort of inconvenience is a step too far. Some of my own family have been interested in the fact that I play the organ but wouldn't dream of putting themselves through the ordeal of gong to church in order to hear me.

 

Buying a 'pacakage' sounds like a symptom of the Consumer Culture; maybe this kind of punter should be more actively discouraged, because they are clearly only interested in a sort of cinematic production.

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I recently learned of a case where the organist was asked if he would do a wedding for no fee; it turns out that the couple concerned had a price from the registry office and asked the vicar if it could be matched by the church. Vicar, ever keen to get these people through the door, came up with this as part of a 'package'... What would be your response?

 

R.

 

Hi

 

My view on this is, if the couple (or one of them) are regular members of the church, then we don't charge a fee for weddings or funerals (it's the policy here - the only thing we have charged for is a couple of times when we've bought in an outside organist); however, if it's just a couple who like the idea of a church wedding, then they can pay the going rate or go elsewhere.

 

Incidentally, when I used to play for "specials" at a number of Essex churches I definitely didn't undercut the going rate - it would hardly have been wirth ny while - there just weren't competent (or any) organists in the churches involved. The going rate was around £30-35 at the time - I charged, in my last year down there (2002), £100 for a wedding (and one couple asked if that was enough) and £60 for funerals - and no-one complained. I'd never get that in this area in most churches - and there other organists around, so it's not something I pursue at present.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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If they wish to be married in that church then it is not unreasonable to expect them to have visited it a few times in order to suss out this kind of thing. Most do, if only to hear their banns (by which time it's probably too late!)

There are those who feel this sort of inconvenience is a step too far. Some of my own family have been interested in the fact that I play the organ but wouldn't dream of putting themselves through the ordeal of gong to church in order to hear me.

 

Buying a 'pacakage' sounds like a symptom of the Consumer Culture; maybe this kind of punter should be more actively discouraged, because they are clearly only interested in a sort of cinematic production.

I find nowadays that I just don't know what to think.... :D

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