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Playing in very cold churches


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I've often thought about this (your second paragraph).

 

Surely it's sensible for the church (even if the place habitually isn't kept heated) to ensure that it be at 'Sunday temperature' when the tuner visits? Otherwise what's the point? We do do this here, and as far as I recall it's been the case in previous posts, too.

 

This is something that I bore everyone stiff about, but they take no notice.......In the last two days I have had 2 records broken for coldest tunings yet. Yesterday I tuned an organ when the church was 2.5c and today I tuned one that was at 1.8c. Thank the lord that there were no reeds!

 

Total waste of time urging the clery or anyone who'll listen to put some heating on, because they just laugh.

 

P

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While playing in a very cold church recently, I found that after about an hours hard work my fingers, previously VERY cold from touching cold keys, became quite warm and practising became far easier. Unfortunately my time was up, other duties called, and I had to leave - you can't win!

 

Incidentally, spare a thought for the poor chap sitting at the console holding keys for the tuner - he is often absolutely frozen in this weather as he can take no form of excercise (like pedalling for example) to keep warm. And of course the tuner's hard work in such temperatures wll be largely wasted as the thing will be out of tune when the heat is on come Sunday. Good tuners can make allowances, but it's an uncertain business. And in any case, surely an organisation that is supposed to care about people should ensure that they are looked after properly when on the premises and the building heated to a reasonable level. Sorry about the rant, but I spent many frozen hours key-holding as a tuner's boy - it wasn't fun!

 

Regards to all

 

John

 

I once tried to tune a little Casson on a gallery, in a cold church that suddenly began to warm up for a funeral later on...no chance, even though there were no reeds it all went crazy, and I had to return on another day when the priest assured me the heat wouldn't come on! Once it was done, temperature changes weren't a big deal, but during the tuning, a real problem!

 

CP

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Yes - changes must be bad, even I, a mere player, understand that.

 

To this end, the regime here is to have the (large) church heated ready for when the tuner arrives.

 

However,one should not underestimate the cost to the church of the whole package - roughly = tuning cost + 50%. However, without the environment being right for the tuning (factors including Sunday temp. and humidity, human rights for tuner and assistant(s), etc.) the cost of the tuning is potentially money down the drain.

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This is something that I bore everyone stiff about, but they take no notice.......In the last two days I have had 2 records broken for coldest tunings yet. Yesterday I tuned an organ when the church was 2.5c and today I tuned one that was at 1.8c. Thank the lord that there were no reeds!

 

Total waste of time urging the clery or anyone who'll listen to put some heating on, because they just laugh.

 

P

 

Hi Peter

 

Are you forgetting the few of us who do listen and put heat on (as you should remember from when I was in your neck of the woods!)

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Hi Peter

 

Are you forgetting the few of us who do listen and put heat on (as you should remember from when I was in your neck of the woods!)

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

We're lucky at the two churches I am currently responsible for - the tuners try to came on a day when there's a service, so the heating can just be extended.

 

Do all organists not make sure the heating is on far a tuning visit?

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Hi Peter

 

Are you forgetting the few of us who do listen and put heat on (as you should remember from when I was in your neck of the woods!)

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

 

Very kind, I'm sure Tony..... except that I always tuned in July or August!!!!

 

P

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Do all organists not make sure the heating is on far a tuning visit?

No, they don't. Not all organists know enough to be aware of the need; others may not be able to be sufficiently assertive to persuade those who hold the purse strings - and who may not even appreciate the need for tuning the organ.

 

Fortunately in my church the heating is on 24/7 at this time or year, but I did once hear a moan about the money spent on tuning (the cost of which actually wasn't at all unreasonable, so you can imagine my response).

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I've played in churches when the holy water inside the church is frozen. Fortunately, not where I currently work or live!

 

Fingerless gloves are available made from thermal material, hence much thinner than any made from wool.

 

Hiking and climbing outlets have little packages of clear liquid that, after clicking a metal disc in the pouch, change to a white solid, releasing heat. This is reversible by then heating them in boiling water, preparing them for being used again. These same outlets have thermal underwear, including what I know as 'Long Johns' - full length underpants, as well as thermal socks.

 

I have also used water bottles, only mildly warm, resting them on the keyboard before playing so that the cold keyboard doesn't draw the heat from my fingers. Be careful as none of us wants to damage keyboards, I'm sure!

 

Be careful with heaters when the humidity is low. I currently play on an organ where the bench split as a result of low humidity and a heater placed to close, fortunately before I was appointed to the position.

 

In one of our local churches, where I deputise from time to time, the temperature during winter services is reasonably comfortable for all but the players fingers! The draught that emanates from the rear of the organ and howls across the manuals through the slots where the glass doors slide (it's a Hill) has to be experienced to be believed, and on some occasions the 'interface' between the warmth of the church and the frozen keys has made them quite wet with condensation! Just two or three bars into the pre-service music, one is reminded of a row of fish fingers in a freezer. A fan heater in the loft does little to assist, in that the feet are not the problem area.

 

Then again, the church where I first played as a youngster had a heating system so ineffective that one would have no idea whether or not it was working. Any heat simply rose into the 60' loftiness of the nave roof, never to be appreciated by anyone but the old dear who sat in the pew with the radiator at her back! Mum usually packed me off with a hot water bottle, until we got a strip heater under the bench. The fingers could then get warm between hymns! Happy times?!!

 

CP

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  • 2 weeks later...
While playing in a very cold church recently, I found that after about an hours hard work my fingers, previously VERY cold from touching cold keys, became quite warm and practising became far easier. Unfortunately my time was up, other duties called, and I had to leave - you can't win!

 

snip...

 

John

 

Just to cheer you all up...

 

I learned early in my student days, in Australia, to work on Bach's Trio Sonatas during winter: I find more than any other music that I warm up when playing them.

 

As a student I made the mistake of working on a new sonata in Summer, when the temperature in the church was in the mid to high 30s, and with the church right next door to a pub. I'd buy cold beer, and then tread a fine line between being to warm to want to continue and too sloshed to be worthwhile continuing.

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If I know there has been a funeral during the day I try to practice in the evening beofre the heat completely disappears. :D

 

We are fortunate that our church heatign works quite quickly, and the treasurer doesn't mind if I switch it on for an hour to take the chill off, but I don't like to do this unless its' very cold.

 

I think legally the PCC has a responsibility to ensure satisfactory working conditions for employees, (which means a minimum of 60 °F within an hour of starting work), but I wouldn't want to push that one given the current state of church finances. :unsure:

 

Pipe Dreamer

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If I know there has been a funeral during the day I try to practice in the evening beofre the heat completely disappears. :D

 

We are fortunate that our church heatign works quite quickly, and the treasurer doesn't mind if I switch it on for an hour to take the chill off, but I don't like to do this unless its' very cold.

 

I think legally the PCC has a responsibility to ensure satisfactory working conditions for employees, (which means a minimum of 60 °F within an hour of starting work), but I wouldn't want to push that one given the current state of church finances. :unsure:

 

Pipe Dreamer

 

60° F ? A luxury.... My own church has been around 54 - 56° for the last few weeks. For all the Cristmas services (including Mass yesterday) it was about 52 - 53° F. (The speed at which my boss decided to take Rutter's Shepherd's Pipe Carol did warm my fingers a little, though....) I suppose that, if we are not careful, this thread could descend into something akin to a Monty Python sketch - some here may know to which I refer.

 

The authorities at my own church did have the heating turned up full - and with (at my suggestion) 'bathroom stationery' stuffed in all the keyholes. Unfortunately, whilst this did eliminate a few of the mystery draughts, it did little to raise the ambient temperature.

 

Still, it could have been worse - at least I did not have to play for the crib service on Christmas Eve. However, ensuring that I was 'unavailable' for this came at a price. My car is still stuck at the bottom of a friend's drive (this is the third day I have had to walk everywhere on the roads - the pavements still largely have the properties of very narrow skating rinks). I did manage to persuade the AA to come out - but the chap took one look at the incline (and 90° bend) and said "Naah, no point. You would just end up with a new bumper accessory.... my van." Appeals to a local farmer also fell on deaf ears.

 

How was I to know he drank sweet Sherry and not Boddington's....?

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Massive, very expensive (inefficient heating plant, situated in another building), heating in my church - over the past week the temp max has been 14.3C (humidity 57%) and the minimum 7C (51%).

 

Which has, unsurprisingly, not made me or my colleagues particularly comfortable (nor the congregation), but has produced a multitude of runnings on the swell. (I must confess to leaving them howling yesterday - just to make the point.)

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