What do you call a group of organists? Tonight we are hosting a potluck dinner for the local chapter of the American Guild of Organists (AGO) — and you might say that we are a herd of dinosaurs! (I didn’t know what you call a group of dinosaurs and had to look it up!) We are dinosaurs because the numbers of organists are dwindling fast plus there’s also the fact that people don’t join “clubs” or organizations anymore.
John Tesh wrote on his blog that “church music is about to become extinct.” He quotes the statistic that 99 out of 100 church organist positions are open — and that includes the organist position at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu. (See the job description by clicking here.) Tesh claims that one of the reasons that there are few competent organists is that playing the instrument is challenging and that it takes years and years of study. But he says that the biggest reason for the shortage is the lack of decent salaries. That, and the fact that you have to work every weekend and every holiday makes it limiting, if you want your freedom and don’t want to be tied down.
Last night was Thursday (choir rehearsal night) and I felt just a twinge of guilt not being there — but also a great relief that my evenings and weekends are now free. I do feel that I’ve put in my time! We had a similar conversation last week with Dale and Alice Noble who retired and now live in Santa Barbara, CA. Dale was not only the choral director at Kamehameha Schools for many years — he was also a member of the original LCH Compline Choir and sang with the LCH Choir for many special services and concerts. Dale’s brother, Weston Noble, is now 90 years old and was known for his 57-year tenure at Luther College as the conductor of the Nordic Choir.
I guess we can all rest on our laurels!