|Photo by Old Shoe Woman|
Believe it or not, there are still churches that want organists, and we are facing both a shortage and a surplus of good players. How can that be? For the bigger jobs, the professorships and the bigger church positions that pay full-time salaries with benefits, there are many more applicants than jobs. There are actually quite a few young people out there studying organ. Unfortunately, there are very few competent organists who are interested in taking a part-time job at a small-to-average church. ABC News did a story on this ironic situation last year. We are losing traditional music programs in smaller churches because those students go on to become professionals, and they aren't interested in the smaller jobs.
I am vacating my current organist position at a United Methodist Church in Augusta, GA and will be moving to a new church in August. Our fine choral conductor needs a competent organist to support the traditional program she has worked hard to build. Even though we live in the second largest city in the state of Georgia, we currently have no applicants for a 10-hour per week position, even though the pay is commensurate with the American Guild of Organists Salary Guide. (Base pay, that is - there are no benefits) Churches such as this one deserve excellent worship music just as much as the larger ones. What can we do to help programs like this one continue to thrive and attract competent organists?
I'm curious to know what's happening in your churches. Do you have an organ and an organist? What do you do in your churches to recruit, train, and retain organists for the future?