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Organists and choirs after lockdown


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#1 dotted quaver

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 00:44

Hi everyone! 
 

Now that churches are allowed to open and hold short services, albeit with countless limitations and restrictions, what is happening with your choir?  I keep reading articles about singing being forbidden and it could be 2 years or more before there is any singing in our churches.  So, where does that leave organists?  At the moment, we have a short said service online every Sunday, without music. It is hoped that services in our church will start towards the end of July, but obviously all I can do is play before and after the service which I’m happy to do.  Although the church has been closed for almost four months, they are paying me in full, not through the furlough scheme.  Some organist colleagues are being paid 50% while others are receiving no pay at all.  I guess what I’m wondering is whether there is a future for church organists.  If there can be no singing, there will be no choir and therefore no work for organists.  Most churches will struggle financially and many are unlikely to survive this pandemic.  Even if singing was allowed next week, I don’t think I would have a choir as 75% are over 65 and most of them are anxious about going out, which I fully understand!  Churches cannot afford to pay organists for two years when there is no work for them to do. As government Covid-19 financial assistance schemes seem to only cover 6 months, there seems to be no provision for churches and church musicians who are likely to be impacted financially for considerably longer.  Sadly it looks like organists are inevitably about to receive P45s. I don’t expect my church to pay me when I can’t work due to circumstances beyond everyone’s control, neither do I want to lose income for the same reason!   As the government mandated this lockdown should they not be liable to provide some kind of financial support to people who will suffer financially for several years?  

 

Any thoughts/suggestions welcome.  How is your church dealing with the prospect of a music and choir free service?  Many thanks!  


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#2 Gran'piano

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 05:41

I appreciate that our situation in Switzerland is not the same as in other countries, but while no live services were permitted at all, in the large Reformed Church in the town a shorter service was recorded. Besides the two pieces of  music at the beginning and end of the recording, it included a hymn, the words shown on the screen. The folk 'took part' in the service in their own homes. The organist probably spent almost as much time preparing and recording this short version as for a normal service. (particularly as the church was open while the recording took place and about two bars before the end of a perfect recording of one of the pieces of music, the 'sigrist' walked in and called a greeting up to the organ loft!)
 

As soon as live services with social distancing were allowed in the small church I usually attend, the service included music. Beginning, end, after prayers and  after the sermon. Singing was not permitted, but the organist or pianist played the hymn melody several times (we were permitted to hum!) and the minister read the words of the verses afterwards. Now that a bit of singing is allowed, we sing two verses.

Quite honestly, I cannot for the life of me see why more music can not be included. For many churchgoers it is a very important part of their worship.

 

This doesn't cover how the organist is paid, I suppose he misses out a lot on funerals and weddings, but there are certainly methods of keeping music alive in the churches.


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#3 dotted quaver

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 07:28

Thanks Gran’piano.  When was singing allowed in your church?  Things are moving slowly here and I think it’s better to be safe than sorry but hopefully there will be a way of including more music sooner rather than later.  


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#4 Gran'piano

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 08:45

Sin?ing first allowed on the 28th June.
I just cannot see how an organist is in danger of infecting the congregation or being infected by them. Ours is way over two meters from everyone.
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#5 elemimele

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 20:05

My local Catholic lot are streaming a mass every Sunday, with the organist playing as usual, all the mass music and hymns, and also playing a voluntary afterwards; one chap with a good voice is providing all the singing (and given the work-load I hope his place in heaven is assured). I've been really appreciating it, because with the kid situation, getting to church in the normal way has been very hard/impossible for years. I hope they carry on streaming even when things go back to normal!

Having something to sing along to is good.

When I think of Evensong in the CofE church I attended as a child, a good congregation would bave been 20, in a church that could easily seat 400 (probably more - it was huge). It would have been easy to maintain 2m distance. To be honest, it wouldn't have been a struggle to maintain 5m distance, and ventilation wasn't exactly an issue in that church either.


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#6 Stephen Barber

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Posted 01 July 2020 - 14:11

We're going to have services in church soon, I expect on Sunday week; however there can't be singing. I think we will also have online services, as some older people probably won't want to come to church. I expect that choir members will continue to record hymns and anthems for the online services, so perhaps some of these will be played in church as well.

 

I'm expecting to be able to play voluntaries at the church services.

 

It's a difficult situation : we haven't got a very big congregation in our village church (50-60 including the choir) and if it's split into two (online and in church) it will be even fewer.


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