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Young Organists


James Dawson

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I must say this does sound like a very sensible idea, although I gather from our Clergy that many of the advisory posts are part time, and non-stipendiary, so the cost to the diocese would be minimal.

 

Many are, but it tends to be when the post is held by a priest who already has a living in the diocese. In the case of post I filled a few years ago, they specifically wanted a practicing musician, rather than, necessarily a priest - it was part-time but was also salaried (with the funds provided by various trusts). Where such a post is filled by a cathedral assistant organist, for example, it may well be deemed to be part of the cathedral's outreach to the diocese.

 

However, there are two points that I would like to bring out here. Firstly, there seems to be great disparity in how the various diocese deal with music matters, even down to individual attitudes. Having spoken to a few people 'in the know' over the past few days, I have heard that Liverpool Diocese, for example, has a very progressive, enlightened and open policy, in which they actively encourage organists of all ages and abilities. If what I hear is true, they are even allowed to go along to the cathedral for a play on certain days. I don't think that would ever happen on the other side of the Pennines!

 

In the cases of two dioceses of which I have personal knowledge (having worked in them) there has been a Diocesan Organ Scholar scheme where anyone may apply to be taken onto the scheme (young or older) to have lessons, usually from the DMA or one or two prominent and competent organists elsewhere in the diocese. The tuition being closely tailored to the needs of the student. The cathedral music departments are usually very helpful. It would be good, though, to have more commonality amongst dioceses, and that is why I had been thinking along the lines of a DMAs conference.

 

Secondly, it strikes me that the attitudes shewn towards aspiring organists by the church strongly favour those who are fortunate enough to have attended a choir school, or a public school with a pipe organ; as it seems very unlikely that other children would ever be allowed to gain the experience to play on most church organs. (There have been several articles on this very subject in the press.) This to me is a disgrace, that the church, of all bodies should create a situation where young people who have not been fortunate enough to attend a public school should be denied the opportunity to play the most wonderful musical instrument there is.

 

Personally, I think I will stay out of the public schools debate.

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Personally, I think I will stay out of the public schools debate.

 

Please do not think I am knocking public schools; I am not. I attended one myself, as did my children, so I have no axe to grind on that score.

 

My point is, (and I could be entirely wrong here), that I would imagine the majority of cathedral organists and present organ scholars in this country attended public or choir schools. Or put it another way; how many of them attended secondary moderns?

 

There are clearly very good reasons for this, but given that most organs are under-used, would it not be a good idea to encourage more people to play at all levels?

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I am more and more of the opinion that the C of E dioceses ought to have a Director of Music (or some other position). There are many people who would sincerely play but have little discrete help to support them in their endeavours. I also find that some clergy need discrete help in knowing how to use time and musical talents. I feel that to enable the best offerings to come forward many places just need that helping hand and a sympathetic understanding from the diocese. Some perhaps have help. I know that the Roman Catholic church have a number of such people and choirs and organ playing seems to greatly thrive under such careful direction. I also am beginning to realize (as a DOA) that some pipe organs would not replaced by digital substitutes if the helpful but not over-competent organist had some guidance in how to negotiate the idiosyncrasies of a 19th Century tracker in their church.

I realize that this would cost the diocese but I would vehemently argue that the rewards would be priceless for such an outlay. There are positions for clergy in directing the many areas of the Church's Ministry in dioceses, but I am saddened to think that so few cannot see the value of the Ministry of Music in their thinking. It is often the one part of Sunday Liturgy that can be so easily seen and heard by everyone and can destroy or uplift at the drop of a chord. Such people could devise workshops or private help. They could give pointers about how to recruit singers and what repertoire that would suit them in the context of their church's services. The young organists can be encouraged through any number of ways and given small opportunities to play their offering.

I have always felt that young people will be encouraged by the tiniest offers of kindness and realistic challenges. But it takes a little time to set such things up. The RSCM offered a national need as seen by Sir Sydney Nicholson. My mother was part of those early days in Oundle when he visited. I think that we need smaller and more concentrated activity that is more 'home-grown' so that the changing churches can be catered for. The early days of the RSCM were founded upon the B of C Prayer and so a national spirit to encourage choirs was totally understood when they joined for massed singing days. Now almost every church is different. Could you arrange such a Saturday and get everyone to sing Evensong? I very much doubt it as it would be for most a museum activity. These differences need understanding and knitting back together and the young people are pivotal to any larger plan for the future. Bishop Ken's words "Improve thy talent with due care" cannot be more true. Having organists' associations, The Organ Club, the IAO etc. are needed extras to complement the other work. I just feel that Diocesan enthusers are needed as soon as possible - certainly in the C of E.

But again - I might be just an old fuddy-duddy living in a dream world.

N

I work in a Catholic parish in Staffordshire and in the 15 years I have been there I have not noticed any initiatives that promote either choirs or organ playing. In fact you would be hard pressed to find a Catholic Church with a decent pipe organ in the part of Staffordshire where I live. They are usually under - powered, cheap, poor unit organs or more often digital. Sometimes all you find is a 30 - year old electronic with 12 sticks at your feet for pedals and samaba rhythms that come on suddenly during the offertory procession. In my parish we are trying to turn things around, with the blessing of the Archdiocease, but I often feel that we are a lone voice. We have earned a good reputation so far for using Palestrina, Byrd, Lobo and others each week at Mass; together with a quality organ music at the end of the liturgy. Yes, we have school children in the choir; yes, they love to sing the plainchant and polyphonic Latin Mass settings and we also have three enthusiastic young organ students.

As I was discouraged from playing by the organist at my local (Methodist ) church as a youngster, I am determined to see my young organists accompany as much os the Mass as possible. My organ students in the parish are consulted and involved at every stage with me in the re-building and enlarging of a fine Rushworth & Dreaper organ which we rescued from a chapel which closed in 2003. We even took our 14 year - old assistant with us to Terry Shires pipemakers in Leeds when we ordered the new stops for our organ. He is waiting to take his Associated board exam as soom as we have an instrument good enough. I would support any initiative designed to help and encourage youngsters from all walks of life to climb the steps to the loft and play. Equally, they should be given the chance to sing some of our wonderful Mass and service settings instead of being patronised with most of the rubbish that is served up in the liturgy today. This happens too often in the school Masses at many our Catholic High Schools. Some have thriving music departments, where the studuents could be involved in preparing music for the Mass. One local school was simply not interested when I knew of a pipe organ that they could have had installed in their hall for a small sum. They had just spent millions on new buildings.

Having said all that I am thrilled at the enthusiasm shown by the youngsters I work with and I know there is much more we can do. I would be interested to hear from anyone else working in a similar way, situated many miles from the nearest Cathedral (of either denomination) and with children drawn almost exclusively from state schools.

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I work in a Catholic parish in Staffordshire and in the 15 years I have been there I have not noticed any initiatives that promote either choirs or organ playing. In fact you would be hard pressed to find a Catholic Church with a decent pipe organ in the part of Staffordshire where I live. They are usually under - powered, cheap, poor unit organs or more often digital. Sometimes all you find is a 30 - year old electronic with 12 sticks at your feet for pedals and samaba rhythms that come on suddenly during the offertory procession. In my parish we are trying to turn things around, with the blessing of the Archdiocease, but I often feel that we are a lone voice. We have earned a good reputation so far for using Palestrina, Byrd, Lobo and others each week at Mass; together with a quality organ music at the end of the liturgy. Yes, we have school children in the choir; yes, they love to sing the plainchant and polyphonic Latin Mass settings and we also have three enthusiastic young organ students.

As I was discouraged from playing by the organist at my local (Methodist ) church as a youngster, I am determined to see my young organists accompany as much os the Mass as possible. My organ students in the parish are consulted and involved at every stage with me in the re-building and enlarging of a fine Rushworth & Dreaper organ which we rescued from a chapel which closed in 2003. We even took our 14 year - old assistant with us to Terry Shires pipemakers in Leeds when we ordered the new stops for our organ. He is waiting to take his Associated board exam as soom as we have an instrument good enough. I would support any initiative designed to help and encourage youngsters from all walks of life to climb the steps to the loft and play. Equally, they should be given the chance to sing some of our wonderful Mass and service settings instead of being patronised with most of the rubbish that is served up in the liturgy today. This happens too often in the school Masses at many our Catholic High Schools. Some have thriving music departments, where the studuents could be involved in preparing music for the Mass. One local school was simply not interested when I knew of a pipe organ that they could have had installed in their hall for a small sum. They had just spent millions on new buildings.

Having said all that I am thrilled at the enthusiasm shown by the youngsters I work with and I know there is much more we can do. I would be interested to hear from anyone else working in a similar way, situated many miles from the nearest Cathedral (of either denomination) and with children drawn almost exclusively from state schools.

You have completely made my day. Simply capital.

N

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As I was discouraged from playing by the organist at my local (Methodist ) church as a youngster, I am determined to see my young organists accompany as much os the Mass as possible. My organ students in the parish are consulted and involved at every stage with me in the re-building and enlarging of a fine Rushworth & Dreaper organ which we rescued from a chapel which closed in 2003. We even took our 14 year - old assistant with us to Terry Shires pipemakers in Leeds when we ordered the new stops for our organ. He is waiting to take his Associated board exam as soom as we have an instrument good enough.

 

=========================

 

 

Absolutely brilliant!

 

There's nothing like kids getting their hands dirty and INVOLVED.....that's the secret.

 

I know that when I was 15, I often fettled the reeds just before recitals and concerts at my local PC, and knowing that it made a big difference to the musical result was important to me.

 

Keep up the good work.

 

MM

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Please do not think I am knocking public schools; I am not. I attended one myself, as did my children, so I have no axe to grind on that score.

 

My point is, (and I could be entirely wrong here), that I would imagine the majority of cathedral organists and present organ scholars in this country attended public or choir schools. Or put it another way; how many of them attended secondary moderns?

 

There are clearly very good reasons for this, but given that most organs are under-used, would it not be a good idea to encourage more people to play at all levels?

 

==================================

 

 

I had a "Muse" about this, and I can certainly think of a few notable exceptions to the "Public School to Cathedral Organ Loft" syndrome.

 

The late Charles MacDonald, (an exact comtemporary of mine), was a Grammar School lad and studied at the RNCM in Manchester. He was OS at York for a while.

 

I don't know whether a private Grammar School qualifies.....I suppose it must...... but Bradford Grammar School produced Neil Taylor (Sheffield) and a few others of note; possibly because they had an organist head of music at the time.

 

Widening the scope beyond that of the cathedral organ loft, John Ball (who?), was the outstanding technical genius among my contemporaries, and his considerable gifts included Piano, Theatre Organ, Electronic Organ and Classical Organ. He had THE most peculiar training of anyone I ever knew; being taught principally by a lady theatre organist, the late Freida Hall "The Queen of the keys" (I can think of a few others). Not many 16 year olds could rattle through Gershwin, Bach, the Grieg Piano Concerto, Bach and Zef Connery's "Kitten on the keys" in rapid succession. He went on to study at the RNCM, but never pursued the cathedral loft idea. I have heard nothing much of him for years and years.

 

I suppose I was another exception, but apart from Uni Organ Scholar and a brief sortie into the grim world of the Choir School system, I was always far too complex than to find fulfilment nailed to an organ bench.

 

Philip Tordoff was another exception. Local Grammar School to Cambridge organ-scholarship, but with a fantastic organ-teacher, the renowned alcoholic, the late Charlie Stott.

 

However, two questions interest me.

 

Why should the public school/choir school system produce the majority of capable organists in the UK?

 

Secondly, how have countries such as the Russia, the Czech Republic and Hungary produced such outstanding organists, when the recent past has included a certain degree of religious intolerance (if not downright hostility) and without a public school in sight?

 

It does tend to suggest that the public school/cathedral apprenticeship route is only one path, and other paths exist elsewhere. I must presume that the latter evolves from some state sponsored academy programme rather than any church system; though presumably, there must have been a certain amount of unofficial, almost clandestine musical activity, which I know to be the case in the Czech Republic at least.

 

 

I further suspect that it often comes down to specific individuals, who may work in education, but may just be very capable church organists/choirmasters who inspire and develop interest in the instrument.

 

I would personally love to see a system here which is not dependent upon the churches; not because I believe that to be wrong, but because churchgoing is now such a minority pursuit, it enjoys little credibility in to-day's world and very limited exposure.

 

To me, one of the great tragedies of this country, is the fact that so many organs in secular places are seldom used, and when they are, it is often beyond the access of anyone who isn't a "professional."

 

No wonder everything is sliding south.

 

MM

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I see that 'Grammar Schools' have had a mention, anyone remember them?

 

I attended a Boys' Grammar in a small northern mill-town from the mid '60s to early '70s, we had a Compton/Makin electronic in the school hall, and a Music Master who was O&C of the town's Parish Church (all-male choir etc.)

I can remember 5 boys, as well as myself, who were learning the organ whilst I was at the school; some held local organist's posts outright, others were assistant organists or part of an organists' team at their church. Four, like myself, went on to further ed. in music and eventually jobs as music teachers in secondary education. I don't think any were 'high flyers'.

The school organ got plenty of use, I played it most lunch times, daily assemblies with hymns and voluntaries in and out.

 

During my 30 plus years as a Head of Music I have only had 2 organ pupils from within my school.

 

DT

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==================================

 

Why should the public school/choir school system produce the majority of capable organists in the UK?

Leaving aside choir schools which were not mentioned earlier when this was raised, I would suggest that a fair number of organists come from public schools which have a chapel with an organ and (sometimes) a choral set-up, and in which communal worship takes place almost daily. Some (e.g. Eton, Lancing, Clifton, Rugby, Ampleforth and Downside et al.) have buildings and/or instruments which are identical in scale to some of the largest university collegiate chapels; others are of near cathedral-like proportions. It is not surprising then that young people spending the waking hours of their formative years in such an environment could become organists. That being said, it's not the type of school but the presence of an instrument there which is the catalyst. I was the product of a state grammar school which had a two-manual Rothwell in its school Hall.

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Leaving aside choir schools which were not mentioned earlier when this was raised, I would suggest that a fair number of organists come from public schools which have a chapel with an organ and (sometimes) a choral set-up, and in which communal worship takes place almost daily. Some (e.g. Eton, Lancing, Clifton, Rugby, Ampleforth and Downside et al.) have buildings and/or instruments which are identical in scale to some of the largest university collegiate chapels; others are of near cathedral-like proportions. It is not surprising then that young people spending the waking hours of their formative years in such an environment could become organists. That being said, it's not the type of school but the presence of an instrument there which is the catalyst. I was the product of a state grammar school which had a two-manual Rothwell in its school Hall.

 

That's interesting, and encouraging, that there may be instruments in some state schools.

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That's interesting, and encouraging, that there may be instruments in some state schools.

When I passed the 11-plus in 1971 I was offered places at 3 state grammar schools in the Derby area. 2 had organs in their assembly halls and Heads of Music who were organists, one had no organ and no organist; guess where I went! In a way, I'm quite glad the way things turned out, but had I gone to a school with an organ I think my chances of getting an organ scholarship would have been higher. As it was, a scholarship to Christ Church without any practical duties seemed like a good deal. I suspect that neither Derby school organ survives.

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That's interesting, and encouraging, that there may be instruments in some state schools.

 

My old school, King Edward VI Grammar in Stratford-upon-Avon, a state establishment, uses the adjacent Guild Chapel for its services. I doubt that I would have learned the organ if I had not gone there after the 11+. It has recently produced a very fine young organist, whose name escapes me, who went to one of our cathedrals as Organ Scholar.

 

The chapel has a 2 manual Nicholson which is about to be replaced with a new and ambitious instrument from Principal Pipe Organs of York.

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However, two questions interest me.

 

Why should the public school/choir school system produce the majority of capable organists in the UK?

 

Secondly, how have countries such as the Russia, the Czech Republic and Hungary produced such outstanding organists, when the recent past has included a certain degree of religious intolerance (if not downright hostility) and without a public school in sight?

 

I think these questions can be answered together.

 

Firstly, in my opinion, the provision of music tuition in most of our state schools is woefully inadequate, with the result that very few students leave school having learnt to sing or play an instrument. Some pupils may opt for private tuition, but peer pressure in state schools is such that many pupils will give up their music studies rather than having to face bullying and general mickey taking. Former colleges tell me that there has been some improvement in recent years, with county music teachers visiting schools on a weekly basis; but there is no timetabled provision for such lessons, which means that pupils have to miss other subjects. I do not believe that this is a satisfactory arrangement.

 

Public schools, on the other hand, take a very different approach. Teachers at public schools will tell you that music, like sport, is an essential part of the curriculum, not least because it improves performance and concentration in other subjects. I have no personal experience of teaching in former eastern bloc countries, but I do know that music is held in much greater esteem than it is here.

 

It is also the case that most of the better public schools have very fine organs on which pupils can learn to play, without having to negotiate with clergy and PCC's of access to a church organ. I don't know, but I suspect that access to church organs in mainland Europe and the former eastern bloc is probably less difficult than it is here.

 

To me, one of the great tragedies of this country, is the fact that so many organs in secular places are seldom used, and when they are, it is often beyond the access of anyone who isn't a "professional."

 

No wonder everything is sliding south.

 

MM

 

I can only agree with you. Most of the organs in public buildings have become unplayable owing to lack of use! (Central heating and lack of maintenance have also played their part. ) This is because only the most highly qualified organists have been allowed within five miles of them, and only then after reams of paperwork and countless risk assessments have been completed! This has had the secondary effect of giving organ playing an 'elitist' image, which in turn has done little to encourage new organists into the fold.

 

Let's be clear here. An organ doesn't care who plays it as long as it gets played. Organs are not damaged by being played too loudly, or by having the wrong keys played. It is only crusty old organists and mandarins in town halls and the church who have created this situation.

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Firstly, in my opinion, the provision of music tuition in most of our state schools is woefully inadequate, with the result that very few students leave school having learnt to sing or play an instrument.

At the last school in which I worked (about 6 years ago) the Head of Music was an "Advanced Skills Teacher", and therefore deemed to be very good at his job. A lot of work was done on (tuned) percussion instruments. The ensembles of umpteen marimbas, xylophones, etc etc attended Schools Proms and won lots of awards. But was there a school choir? No (although this was a church school). An orchestra? No. Other instrumental or chamber music groups? No. Nothing apart from percussion.

 

My last A-Level German set included a boy who was also embarking on A-Level Music. A week or so into the first term, I asked him what they had been doing in their A-L Music lessons. He replied (very proudly!) that they had been working through some Grade 1 Theory papers (that's Grade ONE, not a misprint). When I did A-L Music in the mid-1960s, a pre-condition of entry was a Grade 6 practical, for which the pre-entry condition was Grade 5 Theory. I rest my case.

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...I asked him what they had been doing in their A-L Music lessons. He replied (very proudly!) that they had been working through some Grade 1 Theory papers (that's Grade ONE, not a misprint). When I did A-L Music in the mid-1960s, a pre-condition of entry was a Grade 6 practical, for which the pre-entry condition was Grade 5 Theory. I rest my case.

 

Not much different in the colonies, um Australia, I'm afraid. My son is finishing his secondary schooling this year, and has attended a specialist College of the Arts school. They were required to do some harmonisation 'in the style of Bach'. I looked at his - blatant consecutive fifths and octaves, no sense of good harmonic progression - marked with top marks and no faults corrected. Conclusion (not only from this one occasion)? The teacher in an elite music and arts school is herself not capable of doing the work at an acceptable level. More and more the school course work has been dominated by jazz and pop music, even though this school has enough classical instrumentalists to form a credible orchestra.

 

And the choir? (They do have a choir, I guess I should be thankful, and the quality has improved over the last four or so years with a change of director.) Most of what is sung is the sickly sweet music that youth choir directs think young children like singing. A couple of them attended a Tallis Scholars Summer School a couple of years ago. That was not because the Summer School offered sickly sweet music. My son goes from singing Byrd and Purcell on Sunday to 'let's clap to the rhythm' during the week. He know what he prefers.

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And the choir? (They do have a choir, I guess I should be thankful, and the quality has improved over the last four or so years with a change of director.) Most of what is sung is the sickly sweet music that youth choir directs think young children like singing. A couple of them attended a Tallis Scholars Summer School a couple of years ago. That was not because the Summer School offered sickly sweet music. My son goes from singing Byrd and Purcell on Sunday to 'let's clap to the rhythm' during the week. He know what he prefers.

 

Here is a link to the Tallis Scholars singing some Oxford music which is nearly 500 years old.

&
. At this time in England as I learned from one of my D.Phil students, a large percentage* of the population was actively engaged in such music-making. Country houses, castles, palaces, monasteries, collegiate foundations employed artisans who also sang in the choir in their private chapels with daily masses and other Offices. To dream of hearing this music floating from the chapel of Magdalen is almost too much to imagine for me. And to think it was all from part books too. What an education the boys must have had to have this (and much more) in their repertoire, makes our present life and standards utterly miserable I think.

*18% sang was the calculation, I seem to remember.

Best wishes,

Nigel

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Here is a link to the Tallis Scholars singing some Oxford music which is nearly 500 years old.
&
. At this time in England as I learned from one of my D.Phil students, a large percentage* of the population was actively engaged in such music-making. Country houses, castles, palaces, monasteries, collegiate foundations employed artisans who also sang in the choir in their private chapels with daily masses and other Offices. To dream of hearing this music floating from the chapel of Magdalen is almost too much to imagine for me. And to think it was all from part books too. What an education the boys must have had to have this (and much more) in their repertoire, makes our present life and standards utterly miserable I think.

*18% sang was the calculation, I seem to remember.

There's a poem (I think it's in the Oxford Book of Early English Verse) called the Choirboy's Lot (or something) which suggests that not every chorister could read music particularly well. Which tallies with anecdotal evidence from peripatetic instrumental teachers that some cathedral choristers now "get by" by following their colleagues. On the other hand, I suspect that most of Peter Maxwell Davies' pupils at Cirencester could read music pretty well.

 

I agree with Nigel and William Byrd that "singing is so good a thing I would that all men [and women] learnt to sing". It's not so long ago that the choral society movement was probably the most popular amateur activity in the UK.

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I agree with Nigel and William Byrd that "singing is so good a thing I would that all men [and women] learnt to sing". It's not so long ago that the choral society movement was probably the most popular amateur activity in the UK.

 

I blush to the tint of a damson that my name is within the same sentence as William Byrd. Crikey.

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I think there's not an altogether shortage of young organists. The son of two friends off mine, James Norrey (22), has just secured the assistant's post at Llandaff. The late Peter Goodman heard him when James was barely 17 and remarked, "That young man has flair in abundance." It never ceases to amaze me that talented young organists seem to be shunned by the BBC from appearing on its "Young Musicians" competition.

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  • 2 months later...

I have just stumbled across this: http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/content.asp?id=17791. It is ten years old, but is still worth reading. I am sure the number of (presumed) youngsters taking organ exams must have taken a dive since the peak of 1983, but the article does give some substance to the argument that there is a wealth of organ playing talent out there that is untapped by the church, or which has simply gone to rot.

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I have just stumbled across this: http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/content.asp?id=17791. It is ten years old, but is still worth reading. I am sure the number of (presumed) youngsters taking organ exams must have taken a dive since the peak of 1983, but the article does give some substance to the argument that there is a wealth of organ playing talent out there that is untapped by the church, or which has simply gone to rot.

 

There still seems to be a steady supply of teenage organists who are appointed organ scholars at our cathedrals. But do they all go on to greater things? I knew one talented young man who around 15 years ago was one such organ scholar at a cathedral; took his ARCO exams and was awarded just about all the prizes going and then went on to Cambridge as an organ scholar. He graduated, not in music, and that I think was the end of things. As far as I know he no longer goes near an organ.

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I work in a Catholic parish in Staffordshire and in the 15 years I have been there I have not noticed any initiatives that promote either choirs or organ playing. In fact you would be hard pressed to find a Catholic Church with a decent pipe organ in the part of Staffordshire where I live. They are usually under - powered, cheap, poor unit organs or more often digital. Sometimes all you find is a 30 - year old electronic with 12 sticks at your feet for pedals and samaba rhythms that come on suddenly during the offertory procession. In my parish we are trying to turn things around, with the blessing of the Archdiocease, but I often feel that we are a lone voice. We have earned a good reputation so far for using Palestrina, Byrd, Lobo and others each week at Mass; together with a quality organ music at the end of the liturgy. Yes, we have school children in the choir; yes, they love to sing the plainchant and polyphonic Latin Mass settings and we also have three enthusiastic young organ students.

As I was discouraged from playing by the organist at my local (Methodist ) church as a youngster, I am determined to see my young organists accompany as much os the Mass as possible. My organ students in the parish are consulted and involved at every stage with me in the re-building and enlarging of a fine Rushworth & Dreaper organ which we rescued from a chapel which closed in 2003. We even took our 14 year - old assistant with us to Terry Shires pipemakers in Leeds when we ordered the new stops for our organ. He is waiting to take his Associated board exam as soom as we have an instrument good enough. I would support any initiative designed to help and encourage youngsters from all walks of life to climb the steps to the loft and play. Equally, they should be given the chance to sing some of our wonderful Mass and service settings instead of being patronised with most of the rubbish that is served up in the liturgy today. This happens too often in the school Masses at many our Catholic High Schools. Some have thriving music departments, where the studuents could be involved in preparing music for the Mass. One local school was simply not interested when I knew of a pipe organ that they could have had installed in their hall for a small sum. They had just spent millions on new buildings.

Having said all that I am thrilled at the enthusiasm shown by the youngsters I work with and I know there is much more we can do. I would be interested to hear from anyone else working in a similar way, situated many miles from the nearest Cathedral (of either denomination) and with children drawn almost exclusively from state schools.

 

 

It all sounds so good doesn't it - and I have no doubt that it is!!!

 

............................... but it only takes the Archbishop to send you a new Parish Priest who isn't quite with your way of thinking and it will all collapse around you!

 

Depressing and you may very well say slightly defeatist. I never believed it would happen to me - .............. but it did - and all in the course of one weekend!

 

All the very best to you - long may it continue!

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