So you want to be a church organist?

The following 44 requirements for being a church organist were posted by Alexandra Fol on her blog:

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A church organist has to:
1) Function properly at 8 am
2) Be prepared to play in case the choir conductor and the choir do not show up.
3) Know to take initiative if the choir conductor begins conducting the wrong piece and/or wrong tempo.
4) Let the choir conductor think he is in control of everything.
5) Compliment the choir conductor enough so that s/he doesn’t feel inferior.
6) Play the tenor line on the Great organ. while playing the rest on the swell.
7) Realize figured bass at sight.
Add the appropriate French or Italian ornamentation.
9) Transpose on a 5-second notice upwards or downwards. Perfectly.
10) Sight-read perfectly at a 2-sec. notice.
11) Sight-read perfectly while conducting the choir from the console.
12) Sight-read perfectly while conducting the choir from the console and talking to an enthusiastic parishioner.
13) Sight-read perfectly while conducting the choir from the console and talking to an enthusiastic parishioner while transposing a tritone at the same time.
14) Do on-the-spot organ arrangements of tacky piano pieces.
15) Do on-the-spot organ arrangements of tacky piano pieces while making them sound like good organ music.
16) Be able to take down as dictation an African song and accompany it on a one-minute notice when the mourning delegation forgets to bring the music with them.
17) Improvise passably in any style.
18) Improvise aimless chord progressions which can finish at any time while waiting for the priest to show up.
19) Time improvisations to finish 10 seconds after the beginning of the broadcast hour when the service is broadcast live on the radio.
20) Improvise up to 15 minutes of heroic Postlude when the mass finishes 15 minutes earlier that the live radio broadcast.
21) Maintain her cool while the choir director begins explaining his vision of church music during a difficult Prelude or Offertory passage.
22) Pretend to pay attention during No. 21.
23) Know of all of Bach’s problems with his employers who claimed he used too many dissonances and 16th notes in his fugues and use the stories of his life as her defense against all stylistic attacks.
24) Remember that nobody is seriously listening to anything you play but they will notice when you don’t
25) Know to play softer when the choir sings well for that it can be heard.
26) Know to play louder than the choir when the choir gets hopelessly out of tune, because it is better for the organist to look bad than the choir.
27) Magically produce photocopies when no photocopier is available.
28) Produce wine for a church party in a little village where no store is open.
29) Avoid overt affiliation to any Christian denomination. One never knows what their relationships are and one never knows who will hire you next.
30) Smile innocently when anglotrash Methodists make blatantly biased comments against Orthodox Christianity.
31) Invent politically correct responses to all claims pertaining to “old-fashioned rites”.
32) Not interfere when the priest and the choir director are having a screaming match.
33) Master 10-minute naps.
34) Read minds.
35) Make everyone happy all the time while maintaining musical integrity.
36) communicate as well as someone with a PhD on the subject.
37) become a private physiologist to distressed altos or tenors.
38) treat singers like little kids while giving them the impression of treating them like professionals.
39) Know how to ask for money so that the organ is tuned without making enemies among the financial gurus of the Church.
40) Never ever attempt to denigrate a colleague.
41) Predict the future.
42) Learn the past of the parish history within a week of accepting the job.
44) Develop diplomatic skills equal to those of cardinal Richelieu.

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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