Dating an organist

I found the following post from CBC Music of Canada to be highly amusing as well as educational and would like to share it with you, along with some commentary and pictures of my own. The words printed in italic are from the CBC Music post. My commentary is in bold.

Just so you don’t get any ideas, sorry, I’m NOT dating!

Have you had your eye on that organist at your church? Is a certain swell box making your heart race? Are you having inappropriate thoughts during the pedal point of the postlude? It sounds like you may have fallen for an organist. Organists can be elusive and shy, and it’s rare to see them outside their natural habitat. Sure, they have a certain mystique, but are they relationship material? Read the list below for eight things you should know before dating an organist. 

Ironing my music to make it stay flat.

Ironing my music to make it stay flat.

1. They can be control freaks (Oh, really!)

The pipe organ, also known as the king of instruments, offers more orchestration possibilities and range — and can play louder — than any other instrument in the classical world. Organists like to be in control, and many of them were drawn to the instrument because of this trait. If you’re planning a dinner-and-a-movie evening with your organist, it’s best to let them decide where to eat and what to watch.
More likely than not, I’ll be attending a concert or an organ recital.

2. Don’t mess with their shoes

I wouldn't mind getting a pair of silver organ shoes!

Silver organ shoes available from

Organists don’t just play with their hands, they also play with their feet, and they’re very picky about footwear. Organ shoes have leather soles that allow organists to feel their way across the pedals and push the pedals silently without slipping off.

Some organists like to pimp their shoes: Diane Bish’s organ shoes are embellished with rhinestones, and 21st-century organ bad boy Cameron Carpenter has a pair of organ shoes studded with Swarovski crystals. I wouldn’t mind getting a pair of silver organ shoes! Available from!

If you’re looking for a more conservative gift for your organist, we recommend cool socks. 

3. They need their space

Always have my back to the audience!

Luckily I always have my back to the audience!

Playing organ can be a solitary, thankless job. Organists often aren’t visible to their audience, and if they are, they usually have to play on a balcony with their backs turned to the public.

Most organists become used to their seclusion, which can extend to their private lives, so be prepared to give them their space when they need it.

On the other hand, working the pedals all the time and climbing up to the balcony every day means organists have great legs. And many organists can play well with others, too, and even with their fellow organists. My doctor says my leg muscles are in such great shape that she would gladly recommend that ALL her patients take organ lessons! 

4. They would ‘walk 500 miles’

It was in Berlin that my sister Margo and I walked 21,183 steps in one day.

It was in Berlin that my sister Margo and I walked 21,183 steps in one day.

Organists are dedicated musicians who will do just about anything to support their peers. J.S. Bach is said to have walked more than 400 kilometres to attend a concert by organist and composer Dietrich Buxtehude. 

If your organist is even half as devoted to you as to their music, you’ll be fine. But you should get used to their weekends being taken up with church services and weddings. 

On the bright side, if you decide to get married, picking the music for your ceremony will be a breeze. Plus, word has it organists can use their instruments to great effect: for example, Bach himself had 20 children.

I walked 396 steps UP and then DOWN at the bell tower in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Bourges, France!

5. They’ll get you VIP access

How many do you know that have been this close to the Pope?

Pope Francis, Vatican City, November 2015

They might not be superstars, but organists are always respected and sometimes their jobs come with perks. For example, Richard Pinel, a competitor in this year’s CIOC, is the organist at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Palace, the official residence of Queen Elizabeth. Pierre Grandmaison, organist at Montreal’s Notre-Dame Basilica, got to take part in Celine Dion’s wedding while hundreds of her fans had to wait outside. The connections your organist has might surprise you. How many people do you know that have been THIS CLOSE to the Pope?

6. They’re great multitaskers

At Woolsey Hall, Yale University

At Woolsey Hall, Yale University

If you find yourself in a car with an organist, odds are they’ll be able to drive stick shift, find their favourite fugue on their iPod, and adjust the air conditioning all at the same time. Organists are used to playing different manuals (that’s organist speak for keyboards) while they work the pedals with their feet. And while most musicians read one or two staves on their sheet music, organists have to read three or sometimes four staves at once!

The sheer number of tasks can become too much even for professional organists. They sometimes use assistants called registrants to turn pages and change stops. Your special organist might ask you to help out some time — good news if you enjoy pushing their buttons. If I ask you to turn pages for me, just turn ONE PAGE at a time! Pretty please?!

7. They’re adaptable

St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin

St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin

Every organ is unique, and organists have to adjust to the touch, sound and layout of every instrument they play. Would you believe that I played 30 different organs this past summer?!

They also have to adjust the duration of their pieces on the fly and improvise in the styles of various musical periods. All this makes organists great people to have in tricky situations — though they still may not be able to find the right thing to say to your parents. How about improvising with one hand while picking up your music which has fallen onto the pedals with another hand? Been there, done that!

8. You should enroll in a frequent flyer program
I recently achieved Premier Gold status with United Airlines!

I love playing European organs!

I love playing European organs!

Organists are especially attracted to Europe because it’s the birthplace of the organ, and the origin of most of its repertoire. If you’re looking to travel with your organist, Europe will be the destination of choice. Can you believe it, I have traveled to Europe four times in the last 14 months!

However, don’t be surprised when your trip ends up revolving around the most famous organs in every country. If you’re going to date an organist, you’d better get comfortable with spending more time in churches than in restaurants or museums. My late husband Carl and I spent 90% of our vacations visiting churches and organs.

A word of advice: try to avoid the really old organs — you might be asked to work the bellows.

Here I am playing the swallow’s nest organ in Metz Cathedral, France.


As an organist, I have had a G-R-E-A-T life!

I never tire of playing the Beckerath organ!

I never tire of playing the Beckerath organ!

P.S. Don’t forget to call in when I’m on public radio tomorrow morning, Oct. 17 from 9:00-10:00 am!

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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2 Responses to Dating an organist

  1. john f bicknell says:

    this was most enjoyable! jb

  2. John Alexander says:

    The article was hilarious, and some of your comments made me laugh out loud!

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