Recruiting, Part 1: Predicting the future
Monday, April 4, 2011 at 8:48AM
Joby Bell in Recruiting

There was a kid whose parents sang in the church choir. The kid ended up sitting in church with a sweet, grandmotherly lady on the front row. This sweet, grandmotherly lady’s daughter played the 9-rank Greenwood pipe organ. She never missed a note.

The little kid eventually developed the habit of running up to the console during the postlude, after which he would be allowed to turn everything off, close the console and lock it up. (Later, I’ll launch a blog post on the evils of locking up a console, but for now, just stay with the story.)

Eventually, this kid became the organist’s official page turner for big deals. And eventually, he was allowed to visit the organ chambers. And then the day came when he was invited to play the organ for Men’s Sunday.

The sheer bliss of all that as the kid recounted it to me cannot be captured in typed words. You’d have to talk to him to get it.

On the other hand, I’ll bet that most professional organists know a kid like that. We have seen how being allowed to approach the throne of one of the most sophisticated and beguiling musical instruments ever invented may hook a kid for life.

But let’s not stop at the seduction of the organ itself. Let’s give credit to the organist and the minister of music, who through their hospitality allowed this kid the thrill of his life in becoming familiar with the organ and with many photos of famous organs all over the world. Thanks to these people, we have another organist in the world.

I have adopted that same model in my own recruiting. Not only do I allow any and all visitors up to the console after church, but I blatantly advertise that opportunity. I have been fortunate to have played historic instruments for several years, and so I have written little informational brochures on the organs, which end with bold type proclaiming the console open to all, especially children.

I predict that at least one in five kids who are allowed to approach the organ, operate it, and eventually play it, will become an organist. I predict that with confidence, for I watched it work with this kid and many others over the years. And let’s acknowledge that it’s not that difficult – all I have to do is make the console available and let the console do the work from there. A kid's eyes grow wider with every new discovery on it.

Names in our story today will not be changed to protect the innocent. Names are proudly laid out here in grateful thanks for those people's hospitality and belief in young people:

The church was the Front Street Baptist Church of Statesville, NC.

The Minister of Music was the Rev. Paul McManus, now at Boiling Springs Baptist Church in Boiling Springs, NC.

The organist was Mrs. Joan Privette Welborn, later Benfield, now happily Connor, retired and living it up in Wilkesboro, NC.

Joan’s sweet, grandmotherly mother was Mrs. Hoyt (Hattie) “Hassie” Privette. May she rest in peace.

And the kid was me.

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