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I believe the general principle for families at weddings/funerals who wish their own organist to play pay the 'resident' organist's fee regardless: it is in most contracts that the organist be asked to play at all such services.

 

I wonder what the situation is for families that want a CD played at the beginning and end, with no hymns, and therefore don't require an organist. My church recently had a state-of-the-art sound system installed (sounds much worse than it really is - the amplification for speech really is fantastic and very life-like and clear without distortion) and at the last funeral I was told my services weren't required as they wanted a CD.

 

In a similar vein, should the people organising the service want 'instrumental' music - e.g. a string quartet - should the resident organist still be entitled to a fee where he isn't asked for but would be normal to be included because music is involved?

 

I make my living from playing and teaching the organ, not as a hobby or second income, so I don't ask this lightly as it may affect me seriously were it to become a trend: "occasional" services such as these are, after all, a major part of the remuneration package of organists' posts. Should technology, or indeed "rival instrumentalists", be competing against organists in this area?

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I believe the general principle for families at weddings/funerals who wish their own organist to play pay the 'resident' organist's fee regardless: it is in most contracts that the organist be asked to play at all such services.

 

I wonder what the situation is for families that want a CD played at the beginning and end, with no hymns, and therefore don't require an organist. My church recently had a state-of-the-art sound system installed (sounds much worse than it really is - the amplification for speech really is fantastic and very life-like and clear without distortion) and at the last funeral I was told my services weren't required as they wanted a CD.

 

In a similar vein, should the people organising the service want 'instrumental' music - e.g. a string quartet - should the resident organist still be entitled to a fee where he isn't asked for but would be normal to be included because music is involved?

 

I make my living from playing and teaching the organ, not as a hobby or second income, so I don't ask this lightly as it may affect me seriously were it to become a trend: "occasional" services such as these are, after all, a major part of the remuneration package of organists' posts. Should technology, or indeed "rival instrumentalists", be competing against organists in this area?

 

The agreement here is that I have the right to provide music when it is required for a service. If a request is put in for someone else - or something else - to provide the music, I am still entitled to the standard fee. We don't allow the playing of recorded music, and although we might make an exception in special cases, such an exception would not be made without my agreement, and it would not prejudice my entitlement to the fee.

 

I think the above is pretty much standard practice. I, too, make my living as an organist, but I don't think that should make a difference to the general principle.

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The agreement here is that I have the right to provide music when it is required for a service. If a request is put in for someone else - or something else - to provide the music, I am still entitled to the standard fee. We don't allow the playing of recorded music, and although we might make an exception in special cases, such an exception would not be made without my agreement, and it would not prejudice my entitlement to the fee.

 

I think the above is pretty much standard practice. I, too, make my living as an organist, but I don't think that should make a difference to the general principle.

So, do I understand you are prepared to take a fee, having done nothing to earn it?

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The agreement here is that I have the right to provide music when it is required for a service. If a request is put in for someone else - or something else - to provide the music, I am still entitled to the standard fee. We don't allow the playing of recorded music, and although we might make an exception in special cases, such an exception would not be made without my agreement, and it would not prejudice my entitlement to the fee.

 

I think the above is pretty much standard practice. I, too, make my living as an organist, but I don't think that should make a difference to the general principle.

As one of the resident clerics on this site, (!) I have noticed a growing number of people moving away from the traditional organ to other music. Today in Prestatyn we had a (superb) violinist and pianist and their music was sublime! The organist was also present and was paid the appropriate fee. After all there were hymns to be sung. I would say that singing to a CD is B A D practice and it certainly won't be allowed here. I have also advised funeral directors that if a family requests to sing hymns to the accompaniment of a CD, to not ask me to conduct the service. I had one just recently at the local crem where they sang "You'll never walk alone" to Gerry and the Pacemakers (I think) and that was dreadful. But worse was to follow: The Old Rugged Cross to a CD of Daniel O'Donnell. :lol: Both were absolutely impossible to sing to and what was worse was that there was an organist sitting at the Viscount who could have played both (though the first of these two ditties has a range of an octave and a half and could only be sung by someone like Harry Secombe or Katherine Jenkins!!).

 

I think it is up to individual clergy to put their foot down on this nonsense. If folks want to listen to a CD that is one thing, but singalongaCD is something else.

 

Anyway you folks... don't you have a Musician's Union to stand up against this stuff???

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So, do I understand you are prepared to take a fee, having done nothing to earn it?

 

 

I am not prepared to let someone else have the fee from the job which it is my prerogative and my duty to do. Occasional fees are part of the package and help to make up a salary which is by no means extravagant.

 

In a case where other musicians are involved, my permission as director of music has first to be gained. The Dean could over-ride my opinion, but there has never been a case where this was an issue. I will want to know who the musicians are, what instruments are involved and what they will be playing. I will be at the Cathedral early for the service, as I would be for any other service, and will be on hand to help and encourage in any way. I will, if necessary, meet with the musicians beforehand and facilitate any rehearsal they may wish to have in the cathedral. (I am entitled to ask for an extra fee for this, or for attending the wedding rehearsal, but I have never done so).

 

Although I don't think it makes any difference to the principle, this is part of my living. I will get the wedding schedule for the year and mark off those dates when a wedding is due to take place. If there is a request for someone else to provide the music, it does not alter the fact that I have ear-marked the time, and possibly turned down other engagements. I will be there anyway, in case anything unforeseen happens.

 

I have no qualms about accepting the basic bench fee in such circumstances.

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Occasional fees are part of the package and help to make up a salary which is by no means extravagant.

This is the crux of the issue. It really is not on for a church to attract organists by advertising an expectation of annual income based on a combination of stipend and fees (which is commonly what they do) and then start diverting those fees to other people.

 

If there is a request for someone else to provide the music, it does not alter the fact that I have ear-marked the time, and possibly turned down other engagements. I will be there anyway, in case anything unforeseen happens.

 

I have no qualms about accepting the basic bench fee in such circumstances.

Absolutely.

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Hear, hear to David's and Vox's posts above. It's the way things work here, and is the equitable way, I believe.

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I was employed by a well known, and much broadcasted, priest to a part-time Director of Music position in the 1980's. There were real upsides to the job, the chance to form a new choir, a newly rebuilt organ and, seemingly, a lot of clergy and parish support. There were downsides. One was a complete lack of a contract "Christians shouldn't need to tie each other up with paperwork!". Secondly, I soon found out that this, seemingly supportive, priest was a complete control freak who could only see one side of doing things - his own!! We had some dreadful rows - but the choir went from strength to strength and, in general, things were looking good!

 

Fees were a tricky area and he wouldn't discuss it. I broached the subject of wedding fees and it was made very clear that only if I played would I get the fee. It made for some interesting weddings!! One couple who didn't want to pay my fee brought their own organist with them - she was an FRCO!! I already had 2 weddings either side of this one and so went down to the choir room to prepare for the day after. Five minutes before the wedding the FRCO turned up wanting to know what the buttons were for above the keys!!!! Unfortunately my lack of Christianity came to the fore and I was unable to help!

 

Eventually the control freak left and what followed were ten very happy years, still no contract, with a witty, totally supportive, Lancastrian priest who treat me as a professional person knowing that if I objected to something that it was for the best reasons - which may not necessarily be my self interest! Fees were paid to me and visiting musicians were welcomed as long as they could, in some way, prove their competence.

 

A new Priest came - I lasted 6 months with him - there were advantages to having no contract - it meant I could leave with immediate effect - the shame was that, possibly, one of the busiest, most hard-working and adventurous choirs in the area disappeared in a weekend!

 

I think things have probably changed since then - but, I think it would be true to say that, the Roman Catholic church still treats its musicians with the slightly less respect than a pig breeder does his pig swill!!

 

I miss the 10 years with the witty Lancastrian - but the rest of it - I'm glad to be out!!!

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So, do I understand you are prepared to take a fee, having done nothing to earn it?

 

There's the rub, I think, but it can be answered in two words: "redundancy pay."

 

As the appointed Organist of one's church, one has the right to play for all services requiring music and to receive the customary fee for those services. No-one has the right to tell a church's Organist that s/he may not play for any service, as that would technically count as dismissing the Organist or making him/her redundant, in which case s/he could quite legitimately claim severance or redundancy pay. Bringing in another organist, or having a CD recording played, renders the Organist (temporarily) redundant. QED!

 

Having said that, it's not on for an organist to charge if a deputy is brought in to cover his/her foreseen absence - I wouldn't dream of charging, for instance, if I were away giving a recital and my church had to find someone to cover me. (Actually, in my current post I'm responsible for finding that deputy myself and notifying the Office and Clergy as appropriate, but the principle is still there.) Similarly, I wouldn't charge if the wedding or funeral in question were conducted without music at all - it'd be hard to argue redundancy if one's services were never going to be required in the first place!

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I have 2 instances recently where I have received no fee for a wedding and funeral even though my contract states that I should have, I even quoted the relevent pages from Barry Williams book to the incumbent. The whole area is a nightmare and wish in some way matters were clearer, his argument over the funeral was the family had not entered into a contract with me to play but had engaged the services of another organist who the family wanted. I am rather aggireved over the whole matter.

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his argument over the funeral was the family had not entered into a contract with me to play but had engaged the services of another organist who the family wanted. I am rather aggireved over the whole matter.

Your contract is with your church, not the wedding couple. If it states that you are entitled to a stand-down fee, then you are entitled to it, end of argument. If the church has not made provision to collect that fee from the wedding couple, that is their problem, not yours. You are still entitled to the fee and it is the church's (legal) duty to pay it to you.

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Your contract is with your church, not the wedding couple. If it states that you are entitled to a stand-down fee, then you are entitled to it, end of argument. If the church has not made provision to collect that fee from the wedding couple, that is their problem, not yours. You are still entitled to the fee and it is the church's (legal) duty to pay it to you.

 

My own situation is a little unusual compared with other board members in that I draw from my church, of my own volition, no emolument of any kind save that of wedding and funeral fees.

 

Vox is spot on. Again.

 

David Harrison

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As one of the resident clerics on this site, (!) I have noticed a growing number of people moving away from the traditional organ to other music. Today in Prestatyn we had a (superb) violinist and pianist and their music was sublime! The organist was also present and was paid the appropriate fee. After all there were hymns to be sung. I would say that singing to a CD is B A D practice and it certainly won't be allowed here. I have also advised funeral directors that if a family requests to sing hymns to the accompaniment of a CD, to not ask me to conduct the service. I had one just recently at the local crem where they sang "You'll never walk alone" to Gerry and the Pacemakers (I think) and that was dreadful. But worse was to follow: The Old Rugged Cross to a CD of Daniel O'Donnell. :lol: Both were absolutely impossible to sing to and what was worse was that there was an organist sitting at the Viscount who could have played both (though the first of these two ditties has a range of an octave and a half and could only be sung by someone like Harry Secombe or Katherine Jenkins!!).

 

I think it is up to individual clergy to put their foot down on this nonsense. If folks want to listen to a CD that is one thing, but singalongaCD is something else.

 

Anyway you folks... don't you have a Musician's Union to stand up against this stuff???

 

Hi

 

As another of the resident clerics, I thoroughly agree with Quentin. I had a case recently - a service at one of the local Crematoria - where there was a hymn. This was one of those jobs where the undertaker had phoned and asked me to take the service - not one of my congregation. The undertaker was well aware of the hymn - but chose, without bothering to tell me until I arrived at the crem, that they were using a CD, not a live organist. And as if that wasn't bad enough, the words on the CD didn't match those in the hymnbook! I was not amused.

 

There are times when a pre-recorded accompaniment is appropriate - but NEVER where it's possible to use live music. (My "other" church is a case in point - there's no way we could afford to pay a pianist (no organ), and most weeks, no-one to play - but the weeks I'm there, there's live music.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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I have 2 instances recently where I have received no fee for a wedding and funeral even though my contract states that I should have, I even quoted the relevent pages from Barry Williams book to the incumbent. The whole area is a nightmare and wish in some way matters were clearer, his argument over the funeral was the family had not entered into a contract with me to play but had engaged the services of another organist who the family wanted. I am rather aggireved over the whole matter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Firstly it seems very petty to me for the family to have their own organist to play suggesting that the in house organist was incompetent, and secondly I have very little respect for the replacement who if he had one ounce of decency and respect would have suggested to the family that it was not right to not employ the resident organist.

Colin Richell.

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Firstly it seems very petty to me for the family to have their own organist to play suggesting that the in house organist was incompetent, and secondly I have very little respect for the replacement who if he had one ounce of decency and respect would have suggested to the family that it was not right to not employ the resident organist.

Colin Richell.

I agree in principle. On the occasions where I have played for close friends and relations I have insisted that the incumbent organist gets their standard fee.

 

As for the people that don't want the services of an organist at all, I wonder why they want to get married in a church where organ music is a significant part of their style of worship. If they want a gospel choir, worship group or something like jazz vespers at their wedding then they could find a church where that was on offer. If they want exclusively eg string quartets or a brass band then I would have thought they would be better off having a civil ceremony in a venue of their choice.

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I agree in principle. On the occasions where I have played for close friends and relations I have insisted that the incumbent organist gets their standard fee.

 

As for the people that don't want the services of an organist at all, I wonder why they want to get married in a church where organ music is a significant part of their style of worship. If they want a gospel choir, worship group or something like jazz vespers at their wedding then they could find a church where that was on offer. If they want exclusively eg string quartets or a brass band then I would have thought they would be better off having a civil ceremony in a venue of their choice.

 

I also make sure that the resident organist gets the fee if I play elsewhere. When I was at Belfast Cathedral, it was not uncommon to get requests for choristers to sing at weddings. In such cases, I would clear this with the clergyman concerned, arrange for the choristers to be transported, get them off school if necessary, play for them (not necessarily for the rest of the service) and get them home. They got five pounds each for this, but I didn't charge anything. In one case, where the groom had been a chorister at Ripon, I got a couple of bottles of decent wine.

 

I try to be flexible on music, but the bottom line is that this is the Anglican Cathedral, a Victorian masterpiece of Gilbert Scott's, the service is from the Book of Common Prayer (or, less often, the Book of Alternative Services), and any music has to be appropriate to the setting and the liturgy. Therefore, any keyboard accompaniments will be done on the organ and singers are expected to project naturally without the use of a microphone. The latter occasionally causes consternation with Mr Caruso-style RC cantors, but I believe it to be the only way to order things in our particular circumstances. As an Anglican church, we regard ouselves as open to all, but that does not mean the building and liturgical tradition can be treated as a stage set.

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My own situation is a little unusual compared with other board members in that I draw from my church, of my own volition, no emolument of any kind save that of wedding and funeral fees.

In their book, Barry Williams and Robert Leach advise that, if you pay income tax, it would be more beneficial to your church if you do draw an emolument and gift-aid it back.

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"...They got five pounds each for this, but I didn't charge anything. In one case, where the groom had been a chorister at Ripon, I got a couple of bottles of decent wine..."

 

 

I know times have changed, but when I was a boy chorister at Holy Trinity, Hull, in the late 40's early 50's we received the sum of 2/6d for a wedding (3 bob for a funeral). In those days marriage in church really meant something (they tended to last) and I remember being selected to sing at eight weddings (yes, eight weddings) on one Saturday, receiving the enormous sum of £1:00. I don't know what the organist's fee would have been.

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Firstly it seems very petty to me for the family to have their own organist to play suggesting that the in house organist was incompetent, ...........

 

Colin Richell.

 

While entirely agreeing that the resident organist is entitled to the fee, may I suggest that a family asking if their own organist can play for what is, to them, an important family service, does not necessarily imply that they consider the in-house organist to be incompetent.

 

There are still some families for whom weddings and funerals have deep meaning and significance. There are still some who may find great pleasure in playing for the wedding of a close family member, maybe a son or daughter, or possibly comfort in paying their respects by playing for the funeral of a relative or close friend. Remember this is a fellow organist.

 

Likewise, it may also have meaning for the family, or at least the central members of it. Would you deprive them of the additional 'icing on the cake' on their happy day, or the possible comfort at a difficult time?

 

.............. and secondly I have very little respect for the replacement who if he had one ounce of decency and respect would have suggested to the family that it was not right to not employ the resident organist.

Colin Richell.

 

A little harsh, perhaps? If you said "......would have reminded the family that the resident organist may still entitled to a fee" I would agree with you.

 

I also accept that there may be an issue regarding the (probably unknown) abilities of the visiting organist, but surely the form of service chosen, the manner in which the affair is approached, and a few well chosen questions and enquiries, would do much to enlighten in that respect?

 

Colin, have you never been asked to play for a service like this? If you were, do you not think that, depending on the circumstances, you may derive some pride, pleasure or comfort in being able to do so? What would be your thoughts, if the priest and resident organist at a small village church were to say to you, without any further discussion or enquiry, "Oh, we don't know you or anything about you, so we are assuming that you are not competent to play for this service?"

 

If the motive were simply to save money, or disrespect for the resident organist, then I would agree with you, but dare I suggest that, even in these 'modern' times, there are still many occasions when that is not the case?

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In their book, Barry Williams and Robert Leach advise that, if you pay income tax, it would be more beneficial to your church if you do draw an emolument and gift-aid it back.

 

Thank you, Vox, for your advice. I did discuss this with the Church Treasurer but there was a problem; perhaps I should contact you with a PM to discuss it further. It seemed to me that it wasn't quite as straightforward as I would have liked in my own case. If I can arrive at a solution to the problem I will post it here in due course.

 

David Harrison

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Thank you, Vox, for your advice. I did discuss this with the Church Treasurer but there was a problem; perhaps I should contact you with a PM to discuss it further. It seemed to me that it wasn't quite as straightforward as I would have liked in my own case. If I can arrive at a solution to the problem I will post it here in due course.

 

David Harrison

I think you have a wise Treasurer, David. To deliberately launder a fee in this way is tax fraud.

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I think you have a wise Treasurer, David. To deliberately launder a fee in this way is tax fraud.

Really? In that case I am surprised that Barry, who is an HMRC solicitor, doesn't know this.

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It has been interesting to read the comments after my (deliberately) provocative post. The point I was trying to highlight is the totally unsatisfactory nature of rewarding people by a combination of salary and fees (or expenses).

 

That the Director of Music of a Cathedral - which, to me, is a senior management post - should rely on extra payments to make up a decent salary is quite ridiculous. To be paid a fee for merely "turning up", smacks of the UK House of Lords. Such a senior post should carry a commitment to perform all duties that are necessary without additional overtime or fees, with the possible exception of claims for genuine out of pocket expenses supported by receipts. The salary should be at an appropriate level to recognise this position.

 

It is time to ask the question - why are some people wanting to use CDs or other forms of music at their ceremonies? The answer might be uncomfortable, but if our rich musical tradition is to continue, it probably shouldn't appear to be based on the principles of a budget airline.

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Really? In that case I am surprised that Barry, who is an HMRC solicitor, doesn't know this.

There is clearly a difference between a single instance and a deliberate regular practice.

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I believe the term being sought here is 'fraudulent conversion'. Barry will, I am sure, know whether or not it applies here. A 'grey' area, I suspect.

 

Chris Baker - Durham UK

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