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I'm wondering. Do you belong to yours? If not, why not and what might make you join?

 

We've got around 60 members in ours, but the majority are reluctant organists or late starters with very limited skill, or even non-players who simply like organ music. Only perhaps half a dozen could be called highly competent (grade 8 standard plus). Yet there are quite a few excellent organists in the area who aren't members. Since they are certainly aware of the association's existence, it can only be because they don't see the point. I'm wondering what we can do to stimulate their interest. Funds are extremely limited BTW.

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Do you belong to yours? If not, why not and what might make you join?

 

We've got around 60 members in ours, but the majority are reluctant organists or late starters with very limited skill, or even non-players who simply like organ music. Only perhaps half a dozen could be called highly competent (grade 8 standard plus). Yet there are quite a few excellent organists in the area who aren't members. Since they are certainly aware of the association's existence, it can only be because they don't see the point. I'm wondering what we can do to stimulate their interest. Funds are extremely limited BTW.

 

I used to be a member of my local rural based association for a number of years - numbers were/still are low and not a lot goes on - 'mainly (in my opinion anyway) the fault of the council and similar things to those outlined above. I now belong to a city based association some distance to the west of here - they have an excellent website, organise good outings etc., sponsor recitals and even go abroad on occasions. They have even contributed to the upkeep of the above city's 1956 H & H concert organ and keep recitals on it very high profile in the area and indeed nationally. I do not get to many meetings (family etc.) but the rather neatly produced newsletter makes up for that and my Organists' Review comes as part of the membership package. Above all it seems to be taken seriously in the area, has a good number of cathedral (and similar) musicians on board and is therefore flourishing. It all seems to depend on where one is and who is willing to get and keep things going.

 

AJJ

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Guest delvin146
I'm wondering. Do you belong to yours? If not, why not and what might make you join?

 

We've got around 60 members in ours, but the majority are reluctant organists or late starters with very limited skill, or even non-players who simply like organ music. Only perhaps half a dozen could be called highly competent (grade 8 standard plus). Yet there are quite a few excellent organists in the area who aren't members. Since they are certainly aware of the association's existence, it can only be because they don't see the point. I'm wondering what we can do to stimulate their interest. Funds are extremely limited BTW.

 

I'm sure there are some excellent organists associations around in this country. Surely it depends what members wish to get out of such an organisation? There will always be some who enjoy the social side, others who enjoy discussing various specifications and pipe-scales and wind pressures. Others go to play the various instruments on offer or to discuss the music, some rather well, others perhaps less well. Others still wouldn't be seen dead in an organists association for fear of rain-coat and anorak overdose and novello bach smelling of mothballs.

 

In a modern world, it's now very easy to get onto NPOR and check a spec, or hear sound-samples or even discuss organ issues in a space such as this from one's favourite arm chair - why bother going to local instruments, many of which will have been played at some point by those in the association anyway.

 

If perhaps a lot of money were to be invested in trips further afield, then perhaps some might see it more worthwhile. On the other hand, there are those that just couldn't face the prospect of going on a two hundred mile trip with a load of other organists. I suppose it could either be the most enjoyable and exhilerating experience or sadly, the most vile toe-curling torment depending on one's viewpoint, and the other members of the association not to mention the risk of being tripped by artificial limbs or the overpowering smell of sterile disinfectant. That's before they even start with their bitching and scratching each others' eyes out. Before you know it, it's handbags at twenty paces. Excellent source for gossip though, beats the local corner shop ;)

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I'm wondering. Do you belong to yours? If not, why not and what might make you join?

 

We've got around 60 members in ours, but the majority are reluctant organists or late starters with very limited skill, or even non-players who simply like organ music. Only perhaps half a dozen could be called highly competent (grade 8 standard plus). Yet there are quite a few excellent organists in the area who aren't members. Since they are certainly aware of the association's existence, it can only be because they don't see the point. I'm wondering what we can do to stimulate their interest. Funds are extremely limited BTW.

 

Hi

 

I'm a member of the Bradford association, and previously Cambridge, where I was on the committee for a while. On balance, I find membership worth while - but other committments means that I can't always get to every meeting.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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I'm sure there are some excellent organists associations around in this country. Surely it depends what members wish to get out of such an organisation? There will always be some who enjoy the social side, others who enjoy discussing various specifications and pipe-scales and wind pressures. Others go to play the various instruments on offer or to discuss the music, some rather well, others perhaps less well. Others still wouldn't be seen dead in an organists association for fear of rain-coat and anorak overdose and novello bach smelling of mothballs.

 

In a modern world, it's now very easy to get onto NPOR and check a spec, or hear sound-samples or even discuss organ issues in a space such as this from one's favourite arm chair - why bother going to local instruments, many of which will have been played at some point by those in the association anyway.

 

If perhaps a lot of money were to be invested in trips further afield, then perhaps some might see it more worthwhile. On the other hand, there are those that just couldn't face the prospect of going on a two hundred mile trip with a load of other organists. I suppose it could either be the most enjoyable and exhilerating experience or sadly, the most vile toe-curling torment depending on one's viewpoint, and the other members of the association not to mention the risk of being tripped by artificial limbs or the overpowering smell of sterile disinfectant. That's before they even start with their bitching and scratching each others' eyes out. Before you know it, it's handbags at twenty paces. Excellent source for gossip though, beats the local corner shop  ;)

 

 

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

 

 

I had to chuckle at the imagery of this post!

 

Mothballs, linements and artificial limbs......a heady combination only found in Nursing Homes and Organist's Associations, I feel sure.

 

One musn't, of course, forget the sweet smelling humbugs and "Wurther's Original".

 

Dealing with almost ANY organist's association is a bit like limbo-dancing with the Devil; never quite knowing how low and nasty things can get.

 

Be it your misfortune to be one of life's little grafters, then you can guarantee that all the work will fall your way, whilst others try to take the credit.

 

"We the committee" is usually a prelude to a path of action which re-defines human relations, and when I pointed out to my old OA, (from which I eventually resigned in disgust) that trying to BAN a younger member (who happened to have an alcohol-problem and certain sexual predelictions) was actually illegal and could cause the association to lose charitable status, resulted in something akin to the holocaust.

 

Even now, ten years on, I get ignored by old organists in supermarkets. So I make the point of going up to them and asking, "Did you ever manage to learn any of those Thiman voluntaries?"

 

They soon scuttle off through the vegetables, clutching their genuine leather purses.

 

We had one old guy who was a gem. He couldn't play to save his life; everything being accompanied by one pedal and a chord of G-major, usually on full organ. We would all "repair" to the west door whenever he sat at an organ, but somehow, I miss him. His genuine enthusiasm and good-cheer knew no bounds, and for wonderful memories of truly, awsomely bad performances, he had no peer....but the Lord called time, and must now be suffering the consequences of his harp-playing.

 

I don't mind being surrounded by idiots, the mentally deranged or the utterly incompetent, but when THEY claim to be the bee's knees and the guardians of organ-art, I start to worry.

 

When they dump all the work on other people, you suddenly realise that these people are really quite horrible.

 

Even worse, is the realisation that were I a clergyman, I would want to immediately replace them with a rock-band!!!!!!

 

MM

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Guest Lee Blick
Mothballs, linements and artificial limbs......a heady combination only found in Nursing Homes and Organist's Associations, I feel sure.

 

One musn't, of course, forget the sweet smelling humbugs and "Wurther's Original".

 

I went to my local organist association do once. I never went again. The above description seemed quite apt. They all seemed like weirdos to me. :(

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Guest Roffensis

I was a member once, but found it was more like a "skit the out of tune reed" brigade meeting than much else! I also found I could play organs privately in my own time and space independently, rather than queue for long hours. AOs do appear also to be full of anoraks, :(

 

R

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Quite a number of negative points, here.

 

Unfortunately, I can only concur. I once went to a meeting of a local association and it appeared to be populated by three types of people:

 

1) Those attending posthumously (and presumably unaware of this)

 

2) Those with blue anoraks who played major repertoire like pandas wearing oven-gloves.

 

3) Those who felt a deep-seated need to blow everyone else out of the church by playing on the tutti for fifteen minutes at a time.

 

No thanks, I would rather endure an Ethel Merman concert....

 

:blink:

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Guest delvin146

Maybe in days gone by organist associations had more of a place than they do today. In reality, the status of organist and choirmaster at parish level at least is nothing like what it was say 50 years ago. The average Joe really couldn't give a damn if you are organist and choirmaster of the parish or, for example, local refuse collector.

 

Like many organisations many, (not all), OA's are struggling for numbers. The whole church music scene is not what it was either. Previously, (pre Mission England let's say), organs and choirs were the norm in the majority of anglican churches at least. The majority of churches had a choral tradition and cared about the organ. This is not always the case now. Some organists accept toasters, others don't.

 

Today the church music picture is different. Some organists, (myself included), defend the traditional style, wheras others are quite happy to diversify into more "congregational" styles. As a result members, or even prospective members, in an organist association will come from different viewpoints as to what music or organ is appropriate.

 

Society has also undergone rapid change over the past few decades. I believe the traditional Uniformed organisations such as cubs, scouts and brownies are down in some areas of the country also. It's a sign of the times and a new approach in communication and thinking.

 

The organ is not as popular as it was, to be frank. Lifelong members tend now to be nearing or over retirement age because the blood has not really been replaced over the past twenty years or so. It's rather like churches in general, a group of more mature organ enthusiasts/churchgoers may well find it difficult to draw in a younger/middle aged recruits. If they are lucky enough to do so, these people are likely to form friendships with organist contempories and with those who may be on a similar wave length or viewpoint as themselves. To be honest, it's far more fun to go on an organ outing with a smaller group of closer friends than a coach load of collegues whom one might not really like anyway. I would argue this is much more the norm these days, and that perhaps sadly, organist associations have really had their day. I can think of several occasions where some very good organists have said "I've got the organist association coming tomorrow", with a semi smile and knowing look. I suspect there are many organists in high places, who dread the thought of dirty fingers and sweaty palms all over their consoles for fear of grease marks over the 32' pedal reed, tuba and 8' Swell Oboe stops. Can't say I blame them really. I spent some time disinfecting the console after they last came to me.

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Guest Lee Blick

I agree. It will also take a lot to not only halt that decline but to reinvigorate what is a dying art.

 

I resigned from my parish post in February and at that time I bought my own digital organ for my flat and I am much happier practicing and teaching in my home.

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Guest Roffensis
I agree.  It will also take a lot to not only halt that decline but to reinvigorate what is a dying art.

 

I resigned from my parish post in February and at that time I bought my own digital organ for my flat and I am much happier practicing and teaching in my home.

 

 

Good for you, you'll probably be better appreciated with it .

R

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Guest Andrew Butler
===============

 

Even now, ten years on, I get ignored by old organists in supermarkets. So I make the point of going up to them and asking, "Did you ever manage to learn any of those Thiman voluntaries?"

 

 

 

I would rather hear well-played Thiman than "Those with blue anoraks who played major repertoire like pandas wearing oven-gloves." (cf pcnd5584, later posting - haven't tried "quoting" from 2 different postings - can it be done.?)

 

I was given an old copy of Thiman's "March for a Pageant" the other day - I have to say I like it!

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Quite a number of negative points, here.

 

Unfortunately, I can only concur. I once went to a meeting of a local association and it appeared to be populated by three types of people:

 

1) Those attending posthumously (and presumably unaware of this)

 

2) Those with blue anoraks who played major repertoire like pandas wearing  oven-gloves.

 

3) Those who felt a deep-seated need to blow everyone else out of the church by playing on the tutti for fifteen minutes at a time.

 

No thanks, I would rather endure an Ethel Merman concert....

 

:blink:

 

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

 

 

I would respond thus:-

 

1) The greatest organists are always dead ones, or at least appear so in the

flesh.

 

2) There is a certain pecking-order in anoraks-wearing. The most up-market

organists wear "Barbour" or "Burberry", whilst the novices wear "M&S".

Student anoraks are permitted to wear cheap imports.

 

3) I have never seen a panda playing an organ, but I guess most would happily

eat that bamboo one in Manila. (Do they play Schutz on that instrument?)

 

4) Fifteen minutes of "tutti?" You obviously never heard Horace Augustus!

Horace could turn Handel's Largo into a 12-tone, half-hour long, Triumphal

March. I always say that he was the best organist I ever heard, who also

happened to be a window-cleaner by profession.

 

5) I've never heard of Ethel Merman. Was she an organist?

 

MM

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I joined my local association a couple of years ago and my experience has been generally positive. To be sure the standard varies among the members - there are some fine players (including a cathedral organist) and some who are 'average' (and I would include myself in that category!). I have been able to hear and play organs that normally I wouldn't get the opportunity to visit and I've been made very welcome by the existing members.

 

I guess everyone speaks from their own experience but I have to say that I have found some of the comments posted on this topic to have been patronising and not very helpful.

 

David

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I guess everyone speaks from their own experience but I have to say that I have found some of the comments posted on this topic to have been patronising and not very helpful.

 

David

 

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

 

You're probably quite right David........my apologies.

 

It's just that in my local OA, all the nice people died and the horrible ones continued to live, with one nameless exception.

 

When the horrible ones sneer at professional concert organists yet cannot play anything much in advance of "Baa baa black sheep" , one begins to wonder whether they should really have been political commentators or hack journalists for the seedier tabloids.

 

That stated, I'm sure there ARE associations where there are many worthwhile things going on, and good people making it happen.

 

MM

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I must say that I've found the replies to this thread interesting and illuminating - if inevitably rather disheartening. If the feelings expressed here are shared by the several fine organists who deline to engage with our association - and I strongly suspect they are - we probably have no hope of persuading them to join. I also think it's a pity that these organists presumably only consider what they might get out of the association instead of what they might contribute to it, which is a very great deal.

 

Like some here, the thought of endless discussions about wind pressures, voicing techniques and suchlike anorakish things fills me with horror and for many years that was precisely why I steered clear of our association. When I did join I was pleasantly surprised to find that there is comparatively little of this - probably because of the limited knowledge base. Chat tends to centre around the musical rather than technical qualities of instruments and around the repertoire itself - not so very different from this forum, in fact. It's as much a social thing as a musical one. I can quite imagine that associations in more heavily populated areas with plenty of "serious" organists might have a very different personality.

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Guest delvin146
I must say that I've found the replies to this thread interesting and illuminating - if inevitably rather disheartening. If the feelings expressed here are shared by the several fine organists who deline to engage with our association - and I strongly suspect they are - we probably have no hope of persuading them to join. I also think it's a pity that these organists presumably only consider what they might get out of the association instead of what they might contribute to it, which is a very great deal.

 

Like some here, the thought of endless discussions about wind pressures, voicing techniques and suchlike anorakish things fills me with horror and for many years that was precisely why I steered clear of our association. When I did join I was pleasantly surprised to find that there is comparatively little of this - probably because of the limited knowledge base. Chat tends to centre around the musical rather than technical qualities of instruments and around the repertoire itself - not so very different from this forum, in fact. It's as much a social thing as a musical one. I can quite imagine that associations in more heavily populated areas with plenty of "serious" organists might have a very different personality.

 

I agree that the situation is quite disheartening, but realistic. With some many different preferences of organ music and organs these days it seems only to make the gap wider, more so the range of ability which is perhaps more acute than it would have been some years ago. Of course it's good to have an association, but any association exists for the good of its members. If the members are happy then all well and good, but I simply can't see the point of trying to recruit people who would not want to be there for whatever reason simply to keep it going. Others might argue thg same about Choral Evensong.

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I simply can't see the point of trying to recruit people who would not want to be there for whatever reason simply to keep it going.
Oh yes, I quite agree. Anyone who joins an association only out of a sense of duty is unlikely to remain a member for very long. The way I see it, you can never force a horse to drink, but if you don't at least provide the water, you can't even lead it there. Which is why I'm looking for affordable ideas.

 

We do our best. Our quarterly magazine aims to cater for all tastes and levels of experience, is generally reckoned by members to be informative and entertaining enough to be worth the subscription price alone. Next year we are trying to arrange a day trip to a couple of cathedrals up-country and are trying to sound out the possibility of getting someone reasonably "known" to come and give us a masterclass without breaking the bank (well, you can but try!) I'm also toying with the idea of forming a "library" - not a physical asset as such, but rather a register of music which members own and won't mind lending to others for a few weeks. (God knows I've got stacks that I never play and wouldn't miss.)

 

For the last year we have been running a recruitment campaign and have managed to gain 11 new members which, given our relatively small catchment area is not too bad. Six of them are organists, two more are young students, one has just started learning, and the other two are (I think) just lovers of organ music. It's not all doom and gloom.

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