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Upcoming Performances

February 11
Inaugural recitalist, Casavant organ, Forest Lake Presbyterian Church, Columbia, S.C.

March 9, 2018, 12:15 pm Eastern
Guest recitalist, National City Christian Church, Washington, D.C.

March 11, 2018
Guest recitalist, Waldensian Presbyterian Church, Valdese, N.C.

May 13, 2018, 5:00 pm Eastern
Guest recitalist, First Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, N.C.

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Tuesday
Jan312012

Recruiting, Part 7: Recruiting the old-fashioned way -- just be an organist

I cannot realistically visit high schools to recruit for the organ. Not only are there no organs in most schools, but also many youth these days are not attending churches with organs, if they attend at all. The organ always faces these distant threats toward obsolescence. However, and fortunately, the organ does most of its own recruiting. As a machine that faintly resembles a piano, it is already both familiar and newly fascinating to many young people. The work of the American Guild of Organists and some “maverick” performers has breathed new life into the “rock star” appeal of the instrument. Couple this with my own performing and affability with audiences, and my student recruiting has taken care of itself so far.

It is vital for a teacher to maintain a conscious, pro-active approach to professional relations. Being friendly and refusing to be difficult go a long way. When “You’re so easy to work with!” becomes a fact rather than the occasional compliment, you have arrived.

Perhaps a teacher’s healthy performing career is his most powerful recruiting tool; a visible, assessable product is a strong magnet. Public visibility grows with every recital played away from the home base. Performing often “at home” is a good opportunity for me to prove to students that I practice what I preach in their lessons.

I always make available to interested persons the organ consoles at which I “preside” or on which I have just performed. This sends a message of good hospitality, which can help reverse a lingering stigma of surly organists in our society. Too often I hear of interested visitors who are categorically turned away from churches or institutions that keep the console under lock and key, with no hope for closer inspection. I have seen many a young person increase his interest in the organ after enjoying a brief visit to a console, and I am committed to maintaining the availability of those opportunities for all ages. I have said before that I am living proof that this works, and I have been fortunate to have realized it and be able to thank my mentors while they are still among the living.

Finally, I have developed a Halloween Monster Concert and an annual Messiah Singalong at Appalachian. The Monster Concert brings in capacity crowds in costume, ready to hoot, holler, sing Pumpkin Carols, watch a scary silent move, and get candy. The Messiah crowd bring their children, and all follow along in the scores and sing all those Part I choruses and Hallelujah. I learned two years ago that some people will come to the Singalong no matter the weather, and so I decided never to cancel that one for the weather – that music really does make a lot of Christmases, and I’m glad to deliver. After each event, the organ console is made available to all interested parties.

In short, for recruiting, I just do what I do, which is to be an organist. The organ draws a crowd in its own way, and a little positive reinforcement from me is usually all it takes to seal the deal.

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