Replaced by technology?

No need now for a warm body to sit on the organ bench every Sunday.

No need now for a warm body to sit on the organ bench every Sunday.

With the church organist shortage situation reaching critical mass, I guess it was just a matter of time before someone would come up with a technological solution. When I was sick with stomach flu a couple of weeks ago, apparently a few people went into panic mode. I wonder if they would feel better had they read this article: “Robots lead the hymns as players fade away.”  Today when I opened my email, there was a link to a promotional video from Church Music Solutions which you can see here:

Here’s the hype: The Virtual Organist from Church Music Solutions is a versatile digital device that can be used to assist congregations that lack an in-house musician. The Virtual Organist can either function as a stand-alone 25-rank digital organ or can play back your church’s existing instrument. Think of it! Churches need never be without an organist; only someone to press “Play” on an iPad. It’s not merely a CD playing — the church’s actual organ is played, whether it be pipe or electronic. If you click here, you can hear a sample of the hymn accompaniment for “Holy, holy, holy” from Church Music Solutions. By the way, we are singing this tune for Trinity Sunday (but we use REAL trumpet in the person of Allen Bauchle!)

In this video, Pastor George Borghardt from Zion Lutheran Church, McHenry, IL says that now no one needs to worry whether the organist likes the hymns or not! (FYI at LCH I choose the hymns, so this is not an issue!) He says his 12-year-old son operates the iPad which drives the software to play the organ in their church. I guess with this solution you need not worry about negotiating a contract or dealing with temperamental organists!

The question was asked, though, “Why are you trying to replace organists?” and here is the company’s answer:

Q: Why are you trying to replace organists?A: We’re not. In fact, it is our belief that where musicians are available to play services, they should be encouraged and fostered in their very important office. Unfortunately, musicians are in short supply and it takes years to cultivate new talent. Rather than let the organ remain silent, we feel it’s a better option to keep the artform alive using the latest technology than let the vacuum left by its absence be filled with less than adequate music.

Luckily I have found two competent substitutes to play the organ while I’m away: Mark Wong will play June 10th and 17th and Joey Fala will play on June 24th.

Don’t push their buttons!

About Katherine Crosier

In addition to playing the organ I am interested in documenting life's special moments through journaling, scrapbooking, photography and slideshow production. My family just groans.
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8 Responses to Replaced by technology?

  1. Roger Barton says:

    Can a shortage be described as “reaching critical mass”? Maybe “reaching critical void” would be better. I don’t know, it just caught my eye and tickled the logic bump in my brain.

  2. Roger says:

    Zion Lutheran appears to be a church in need of a virtual pastor. They’d save a lot more money with a virtual pastor than a virtual organist!

  3. Pingback: The Virtual Organ and the Virtual Organist | Another Year of Insanity

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  5. John M says:

    Your organist is sick, on vacation, or retiring and you have to figure out how to manage. Now, you can have a back up organist who’s ready when you are. You select the hymns you want to sing, the volume, the tempo, and the number of stanzas. You can even change the organ’s orchestrations (remotely with Viscount organs, otherwise at the console) with each stanza and display lyrics on a TV screen! Check out the website of this amazing instrument: Just Google “Viscount Choir Master.” Delivery may require up to 15 days from order.
    As one pastor put it, “It’s like having the flexibility and spontaneity of a live organist at the console.” And, it’s all done right from the pulpit, so no one needs to know that something’s different. All you need is an organ with a MIDI port and your “Virtual Church Organist.” Want to see one installed? Contact us.
    “Virtual Church Organist” is a complete kit. It contains the remarkable Choir Master, which stores a virtually unlimited number of hymns and enables you to play them your way; the hardware to mount the Choir Master right in the pulpit, hidden from view; the MIDI cable to your electronic organ; a power cord; a cord channel for the floor; instructions (with color photos) for installation (takes about 1 hour) and use; cable holders, and ten YouTube videos demonstrating use. You also get free tech support. This is not a stand alone hymn player that produces a shallow sound; the Virtual Church Organist plays your organ!
    “Virtual Church Organist” doesn’t replace your organist. It just makes sure you have an alternative when your organist isn’t available. At going rates for substitute organists, the Virtual Church Organist could pay for itself in less than 4 months! Restocking fee 25%. Please contact us to customize your package for your particular church. See us on Ebay and Amazon. Or email us at :
    One year parts and labor warranty.
    Suggested retail: $2,999
    Current promotion: $2,499

  6. Bruce says:

    How is “the new talent cultivated” over years when the Virtual Organist is preferred to an organist in training? If your church organist does not sound as good as the virtual organist, should they not be allowed to play? Are the parishoners to be intolerant of someone doing their best or should they adopt a Christian attitude? This is very discouraging to an organist that is doing his/her best but is not as good as the Virtual Organist.

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