Upcoming Performances

July 18
10:00 am Eastern

Collaborative Organist, Organ/Brass concert, William Adam International Trumpet Festival, Rosen Concert Hall, Appalachian State University

August 25
3:00 pm Eastern

Guest recitalist, Church of the Savior, Newland, N.C.

September 17
8:00 pm Eastern

Faculty recital, Rosen Concert Hall, Appalachian State University

September 22
3:00 pm Eastern

Guest recitalist, First Presbyterian Church, Statesville, N.C.

Fall 2019
Guest recitalist, Third Baptist Church, St. Louis, Missouri

December 13
12:15 pm Eastern

Music at Midday, National City Christian Church, Washington, D.C.

March 2, 2020
Guest recitalist, First Presbyterian Church, Knoxville, Tenn.

April 5, 2020
3:00 pm Eastern

Guest recitalist, St. Joseph Catholic Church, Macon, Ga.

April 18, 2020
7:30 pm Eastern

Concerto organist, Milligan College

June 21-26, 2020
Worship Organist, Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts, Lake Junaluska, N.C.

« ’Til we meet again | Main | Organ literature and dinner parties »

Recruiting, Part 2: Stories of Horror and Success

I’ll never stop saying that the future of the organ lies in allowing young people access to it:

-- I once contacted a professor about visiting the university instrument, whose builder was a friend of mine. The requested day was the professor’s day off, and he lived too far away to come in, blah, blah, blah, and that was that.

-- Another professor taught at a particular church because the university didn’t have an organ. I was scheduled to play the Duruflé Requiem at that church for a visiting choir. But I wasn’t allowed to practice the day before the gig because the professor had lessons in there that day. This was in a big city full of organs, so something could have been worked out. But instead, I had to make two 300-mile round trips to practice for and play that gig. Most inconvenient and inhospitable.

-- A historic, urban church in the Midwest was “closed” the day I dropped by to see the new organ while I was passing through town. “Oh yes, we’re very protective of the new organ!” was their apparently proud conclusion when I called. (Yes, they were there to answer the phone – the church was not “closed.”) Such “protection” will kill the new organ’s momentum in the community. I’m not so sure that I’d brag about being so “protective” of a new organ. Oh, but they did offer some ‘hope:’ “We’ll be here on Sunday morning.”

Really? I hadn’t thought of that.

I wonder where I’d be with the organ today, had I been a young person in any of those conversations.

Well, let’s hear some good news now. My students and I have been allowed as much time as we like at the following venues:

Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, Charlotte, NC. Thank you, Monty Bennett!
First Presbyterian Church, Hickory, NC. Thank you, Denise Filip!
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Winston-Salem, NC. Thank you, John Cummins and Don Grice!
Wait Chapel, Wake Forest University. Thank you, Don Armitage!
First Baptist Church, Longview, TX. Thank you, the Rev. David English!
Augsburg Lutheran Church, Winston-Salem, NC. Thank you, John Coble!

I’ll stop there for now, but there are many more such venues, whose incumbents deserve thanks.

Of course, in this post-9/11 society, arriving unannounced at a church and asking to admire the architecture and play the organ may be a thing of the past. But let’s be realistic about how much of a security threat an organist really poses. I would suggest:

1. Train whomever answers the church phone to answer “Yes” when someone wants to visit the organ.
2. Be reachable when you're not onsite.
3. Train proxy hosts for those times when you are away.
4. Post house rules at the console so everyone knows what is expected. More on that in a forthcoming post.
5. Feed and water your console regularly and carefully. MUCH more on that in a forthcoming post.
6. Insist on playing a part in fostering interest in the organ. REFUSE to play a part in the opposite direction.

You never know when you will hook a kid for life because you let him play to his heart’s content one day. You also never know when any person will be turned off forever to the organ (and maybe to church entirely) because he was denied access to what might be to him a wonderful instrument, no matter how much you may hate it. We are no longer in the position to pick and choose. We’re no longer trying to interest people in the organ because it’s there – we’re now to the point of needing to interest them because it’s NOT there in a lot of young peoples’ lives.

I may not have proof that failure to do this would turn a kid off forever. But I am living proof that success with it hooks a kid for life. See my success story in Part 1 of this series.

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