The vision of the American Guild of Organists is to engage, support, and uplift every organist.
As of July 1, I have a new responsibility—I’m the Membership Chair of the Hawaii Chapter American Guild of Organists. This means I have to be on the lookout for possible new members and encourage them to join our chapter. I just spent several hours this weekend working on our new Membership Directory and you might be surprised to learn that we have 60 members in the Hawaii Chapter. This may seem like a lot of folks, but it’s important to know that our chapter covers the entire state, and of those sixty, twelve live off-island, either on the neighbor islands or on the mainland (they have dual chapter status). Eight members are retired, three of our members are clergy and five are non-organists (whom we welcome, by the way!)
I first became an AGO member when my college professor told me I was supposed to join—I didn’t have a choice in the matter. But I have faithfully paid my dues and kept up my membership all these years.
But you know what? I can’t imagine not being a member—these are my peeps. As a former Hawaii Chapter member said, “Who else is going to know what a mixture is? Who else can you trade wedding stories with? Who else knows what it’s like to work every weekend, and every holiday? and then go to a ‘real’ job Monday through Friday?”
Now that I have our chapter’s membership records, though, I’m saddened to find out how many people who were once members and have not renewed. When I asked one former member about it, he answered, “I can’t afford it! I’m an organist!”
It’s true that being an organist is a lonely and poorly-paying job. The vast majority of AGO members are only part-time organists, and have to make their living doing something else. I feel almost like we are survivors on the Titanic, with ever dwindling numbers on this ocean of life. Do you remember my telling you that in the state of Hawaii, which has 1.4 million people, that there are only about a dozen of us who have a college degree in organ performance? We represent only 0.00000857142857 of the population! Yikes!
And that gave me an idea—what about giving a gift membership? We have a new precedent, in that our chapter dean, Karl Bachman, has given the first gift membership. Those of us who can afford it should consider this possibility.
Our first meeting will be in September and will introduce our Orgelkids working pipe organ kit to the membership. (Check out my post, “It’s that time again“) for a slideshow of what the kit looks like.)
So many people don’t even know what an organ is—remember when concert organist Nathan Laube came to Hawaii and he and Karl Bachman were having dinner in a Hawaii restaurant, the waiter didn’t know what an organist is?
Or remember my telling you that people used to come to the Lutheran Church of Honolulu, and at first glance would tell me, “What a big piano!”
If you are interested in becoming an AGO member, or giving a gift membership, or want to be put on our mailing list, please email me or make a comment below.
And don’t forget that we want to encourage those of you who want to learn how to play the King of Instruments: the deadline for applying for a Hawaii Chapter AGO scholarship is September 5th. Download an application here.