Search for accompanist just got ugly-help
  • The situation: Fourth candidate had her first interview tonight. She played decently and claimed to have extensive experience. She completely failed the sight reading part of the audition, even when we gave her another chance. The candidate is "self taught" and while she has some good skills does not have any formal musical training. Her only previous experience was as a music director at her family's church. She claimed to have directed some kind of regional/district choir, but I have real concerns that this is a fabrication.

    After the audition, the candidate left and I sat down with the pastor and the committee to discuss things. I don't think she really understands her role in this kind of position. Several other committee members voiced the same concerns, especially regarding her serious inability to sight read and learn new music quickly. I believe she would be better suited to a position like she had before (if that was a real thing), and that it may be an uncomfortable or difficult transition for her to be in a "supporting role" rather than a leadership role. I have no desire to work with a person who may potentially have a problem with being a "team player" and who may constantly question, challenge, or otherwise attempt to usurp my authority as music director-especially a person who is by her own admission an amateur. Those who liked the candidate did not like my input and I got lots of nasty looks.

    The committee at this time appears divided. Half are on my side, half are not. I wish this candidate all the best, but she is not right for our program. I don't get the final say, either. We have another candidate who I do believe would fit well and does have adequate training and-most importantly I think-has her head on straight.

    Ugh.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,717
    I've worked with good organists who needed music ahead of time, worked on it on their own time, and ended up playing well. I couldn't throw them any curve balls, but that's doable, I think.

    What's a lot more annoying imho is hiring a musician by committee. Should be you and the pastor I think.
  • Your consent should be final.
    Committees are hydras, especially when they dabble in musical matters.
    I would not consider working professionally with such a person - and if your committee expects you to, you would do well to think about relocating.
    This will never work.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 8,404
    Probably not a good match. Don't over-emphasize the sight reading. After a lifetime of bad eyesight, I need music in advance to both learn it, and memorize difficult sections. Sometimes I can't see it well enough to sight read it, especially if it isn't a good copy. As a director myself, it isn't a good idea to throw music at the accompanist at the last minute. It's bad planning and I don't do it. although in most instances, I am the accompanist.
    Thanked by 2CCooze Joseph Mendes
  • Refuse to consider working with this person. If they overrule you bail out immediately.

    Rarely are church positions open for a good reason, unfortunately.
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,837
    Committees are hydras, especially when they dabble in musical matters.


    While we're on the subject of qualifications, it is highly likely that in any committee of this sort, there are members who are not qualified to judge the work of a musician, much less recommend hiring based on the strength of an audition they don't even know how to rate.
  • >> I've worked with good organists who needed music ahead of time, worked on it on their own time, and ended up playing well. I couldn't throw them any curve balls

    just my $0.02 I have not found this very workable.
    I issue choir calendars in advance, but each with a standard disclaimer: things are subject to change & sometimes (although I try to minimize it) change at last minute. Visitors... choristers' travel or illness...
  • I'm not about to bail on a job I just started.

    I am amazed there are no irate emails in my inbox this morning, and I'll take that as a sign that more people chose to see things my way.

    I'm less concerned about the candidate's musical weaknesses and much more concerned about her overall stability as a person. When something is "off" about someone you don't ignore that.
  • I can't change the fact that there is a committee with some non-musical members. What I can change, hopefully, is the outcome of this situation. I need to communicate-in the most positive ways possible-the reasons why this person is not fit for the job. I was direct last night with the negatives, but that isn't going to prevent them from picking the person.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 8,404
    I issue choir calendars in advance, but each with a standard disclaimer: things are subject to change & sometimes (although I try to minimize it) change at last minute. Visitors... choristers' travel or illness...


    I issue calendars as well, but for one month at a time. If it is on the calendar, we are likely doing it. I tell the choir that if they don't show up and the choir embarrasses itself, it makes them look bad, not me. Visitors are not welcome to sing. They haven't rehearsed and likely don't know the music. In an extreme and rare circumstance I will drop a selection on the calendar if there is no hope of doing it - major storm, flu, or event that prevents choir members from coming who would otherwise be there. I would not ask anyone to risk their life or health for a piece of music. We can always do it later.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 8,404
    I can't change the fact that there is a committee with some non-musical members.


    Sure you can. Remember the poison apple trick from Snow White?
  • Here's what I'm thinking:

    "I think Candidate X is a nice person with good intentions, but because of their previous and limited musical experience would not be happy or fulfilled in this position. I wish Candidate X all the best and sincerely hope they find a position that suits their unique talents and abilities."

    What I really think:

    "I have serious concerns about Candidate X's ability to perform to the level required in the position. Candidate X also has an inflated, grandiose, and somewhat distorted view of many things, and does not appear to understand the concept of working in a supportive position. I have real concerns that Candidate X is not being truthful about their past experience. Candidate X is one fry short of a happy meal."

    :-/
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,837
    I was direct last night with the negatives, but that isn't going to prevent them from picking the person.


    Then I don't think there's anything you can reasonably do to prevent them from choosing this person if that is what they want to do.
  • sorry, clarification - by changes due to 'visitors' I meant visiting priests, not drop ins who might volunteer to sing.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,164
    Has anyone here ever seen The Perils of Pauline?
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • Isn't that the movie where a parish committee ties the DM to a railroad track?
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,023
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2hNrmSkAK4

    Betty Hutton is a Grade AAA example of an immense talent chewed up and spat out by Hollywood, but with a great recovery story courtesy of a good Catholic pastor in Portsmouth RI. The sad irony is her chew/spit episode arose because she replaced a much more famous sufferer of Hollywood chewing/spitting (Judy Garland) - and Betty was reportedly made to pay for it by the cast and crew that loved Judy.
  • Geez this thread is taking a scary turn lol.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 3,925
    Sight reading proficiency an absolute priority.
    Thanked by 1JL
  • PaxMelodious
    Posts: 172
    Obviously you cannot say

    "I have serious concerns about Candidate X's ability to perform to the level required in the position. Candidate X also has an inflated, grandiose, and somewhat distorted view of many things, and does not appear to understand the concept of working in a supportive position. I have real concerns that Candidate X is not being truthful about their past experience. Candidate X is one fry short of a happy meal."

    But you can say "If we hire someone with X's skill level, then this is the conseqeunces for our music programme - we will have to do A instead of B ...."

    Also? who is responsible for checking references, ie phoning the last place she claimed to work, and asking them about her. Ideally this should be done by someone other than you. If no one, then this needs to change
    Thanked by 1JL
  • Update: Committee will vote on the 21st. I spoke with several members and privately with the pastor. Candidate X is not the likely winner, but I reiterated my concerns anyway. I was gently encouraged to handle future situations with more "grace and understanding" and the same directive was given to the committee. Glad I'm on vacation and I can just enjoy myself. Off to the woods now...
  • janetgorbitzjanetgorbitz
    Posts: 768
    I didn't see anything in your posts about contacting her former employer... that should be done as a matter of course and also investigating her references. That could likely have allowed you to ascertain whether or not she was truthful about her claims and also to find out if there were problems in other ways... I think that should be something that would be a requirement for any committee that will be hiring a new employee, regardless of the position.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW JL
  • ConradyConrady
    Posts: 2
    Yikes! I hope it goes well for you. If nothing else, this may be a valuable lesson going forward. I can't imagine agreeing to any process where I (and, of course, my pastor) did not have the final say on hiring a direct report. The notion that some committee would choose a hire who will, in effect, work for you, is a bit of a red flag and seems like bad management. Some denominations do things this way, for reasons that elude me. It does sound like the redeeming factor is that the committee is taking your input into account. Good luck!
  • This is a Protestant congregation in transition. At a point I'm not remembering at the moment it changed from an evangelical brethren church to a United Methodist church. There are still many older people there from when it was the brethren church, and they did things differently. Everyone in the congregation back then chose who worked there. The current pastor has only been there for a year and he has worked hard to guide these folks. So old habits die hard I guess. I have more of a say in what goes on here than the situation looks like I do, even if it doesn't feel that way when some of the old guard forgets that it isn't 1955 anymore.
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,164
    they did things differently

    They sure did. For instance, singing a cappella, as they surely did, the question of a paid accompanist would never even have been raised.

    By the way, everyone, please be a bit more understanding and tolerant of church governance in non-Catholic ecclesial communities, where more folks are involved in decision-making than simply the pastor. There's nothing inherently wrong with that approach, and a bit more of it in the Catholic Church would be a good thing IMHO.

    YM&PCMV (your mileage and parish council may vary)
  • Fr. Krisman,

    A priest of my acquaintance said that he didn't need a parish council because he knew his parish -- that is, he didn't merely interact with the noise-makers, squeaky wheels or whatever they might be, but made regular contact with as many of his parishioners as he could. He said that it saved him tremendous headache.

  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,164
    YM&PCMV
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 3,521
    The United Methodist Church was created on April 23, 1968, when The Evangelical United Brethren Church and The Methodist Church united to form a new denomination.
  • Ah well that explains it. But believe me when I tell you there are still people there who perhaps missed that message lol. The storm has hopefully passed over at this point...