Music directors, I want your opinion
  • I got called to play violin for a funeral. Ok great, no problem. The family tells me where the funeral will be, so I call and ask to speak to their music director to hash out the details. This was a month ago. I leave her a message with my name and phone number. She finally calls back over a week later, while I'm at work and cannot take the call. I work 30-40 hours a week on top of my own church job and don't have time to be playing phone tag. I called her again today. Once again she doesn't answer so I leave my email and home address and suggest she send me the program or any special music the family wants. Then I go about my life and head out to do yard work. She calls back and leaves me another message telling ME to email HER and that "she doesn't have time to deal with this right now" and some other bull about she's leaving and won't be around until after the 20th.

    *I* am not the director here. *I* was just hired to play violin for the funeral. It is NOT my responsibility to keep chasing this woman. I did my part, and she apparently doesn't want to do HER job. The funeral is mid-June, and I have other gigs and work schedules to manage. Additionally, there is a solo singer for this as well, and all three of us need to coordinate at some point. This woman has had a month to get it together and neglected to do so. I'm contacting the family and putting it back in their hands. I cannot fathom behaving so unprofessionally. I'd be out of a job and out of money and never called for gigs if I conducted business the way she does.
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,894
    My opinion is that you give her one last chance, essentially in the form of an ultimatum. Tell her what you need from her, leave it in a message if you have to, and let it be known in no uncertain terms that if you are not provided with the information you're seeking, you will not be able to perform. One particular question comes up: did the family hire you themselves or did the music director?
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 195
    Actually, if the family is requesting you and you're not successful in your next attempt contact the rectory. If all else fails get a hold of the family.
    Thanked by 1FidemInFidebus
  • The family hired me.
  • Marc Cerisier
    Posts: 411
    I agree—let the family know, as they're the ones who hired you. You're just an outside contractor. If no one contacts you, show up x min before the funeral and make your presence known. Hopefully music will have been prepared for you.

    Many awkward situations can be caused when the family gets involved in the hiring of musicians, and I feel blessed that in my parish it isn't allowed, but we have enough full-time staff to handle the administrative overhead.

  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,997
    Well, this was the month that had Holy Week in it...
  • Cry me a river. We're all busy, Holy Week or not. Again, I work full time on top of church gig, I have three school age children, a husband, and a household to maintain. I get things done and don't have time or patience for anyone who drags their feet.
    Thanked by 1eft94530
  • TCJ
    Posts: 618
    Was the music director informed by the family that they wanted to hire a violinist or did you just appear out of nowhere? If the latter is the case, it may explain a lot.
  • Never, ever, accept a job playing in a church for any kind of service without the express knowledge and approval of the incumbent choirmaster. The family should have consulted with the choirmaster before engaging you or anyone else. If this happened to me in a church in which I was choirmaster I would be livid - and you would not play.
  • >> Never, ever, accept a job playing in a church for any kind of service without the express knowledge and approval of the incumbent choirmaster.

    and I would add, and (knowledge, anyway) of the pastor.
    That would give you two "ins" with the family yes? just my $0.02
  • I was given the impression by the family that the music director knew about everything and was expecting my call. The family is out of state, but this was their home church before they moved.
  • TCJ
    Posts: 618
    In the case of dealing with these sorts of things, one needs to be positive that there is proper communication. Often times I find that there is a whole lot of assuming going on which leads to mass confusion and anger on the part of multiple parties. It's always best to double check. I learned that after an episode in which one person had two separate people to provide music for the same Mass without telling either one about the other.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    All politics are local.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,997
    I want your opinion
    ...unless it's different from mine...
    Thanked by 2Wendi bhcordova
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,997
    You called her more or less on Palm Sunday, she called back either during Holy Week or right after Easter, you finally returned the call during the 4th week of Easter? Is that right?

    And the funeral is a month after she returns?
  • I'm off on the dates. The first correspondence I have with the family was April 17th. I contacted the church that week, stating my name and why I was calling, they gave me the director's phone number. I called her shortly after that time. She did not return my call until over a week later.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,997
    Ok that helps.

    I still don't see the emergency. Why not just email (so that she can be in contact while out of the office) and sort it out going forward. You have over a month, and it's only been a few weeks.

    You delayed calling her for over a week too, presumably because you're busy too.
  • TCJ
    Posts: 618
    Some various thoughts:

    1. When someone tries to contact me, I do them the courtesy of replying. If I get an answering machine, I will leave a message. After all, they should not be offended at a message left on a phone considering that is what they just left for me. However, I do not turn the world upside down trying to reach that person. If a person really wants to reach me, it is that person's responsibility to do so.

    2. The funeral apparently was planned two months in advance or so. Generally, all funerals I do I have two to five days of notice. I am not sure why there is such a rush here considering the time available. Quite possibly the music director thinks the same. (Also, I hate delayed funerals... but that's another topic...)

    3. It may not be your responsibility to chase after the music director... but it may not be hers to chase after you. See above about family possibly not even talking to her about it. Or perhaps just flinging it upon her.

    Thanked by 1FidemInFidebus
  • I gave her my email, and then today she demands that I email her. It's impossible to convey tone of voice through text only here, but she was needlessly curt, self important, and nasty on her message.
  • I contacted the family just now and explained that my attempts to coordinate with her have been unsuccessful. I gave them her phone number. And that's it. I'm not doing another thing with this.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,997
    My attempts to coordinate with her have been unsuccessful.
  • @M. Jackson: You are right. Instead of telling her I would call, and then leaving all of this up to me, it was the responsibility of the family to do this. I thought by making all the calls to the church and the director that I was helping them out, but in trying to do the right thing it's turned into a mess. So again, I've put the ball back in the family's court I'm leaving it at that. I've played hundreds of gigs in my career and this is the only time I've ever had to do anything like this. It's usually the director who hires me for a funeral and not the family. Again I was trying to do the right thing here and apparently and unintentionally did the wrong thing. Lesson learned.
  • Well - if the family did clear this with that church's choirmaster, it was perfectly approprieate for you to follow up with a call - even incumbent upon you to do so.
    Too bad that this seems to have ended up as a cat and mouse game betwixt the two of you.
    If I were in your place, I would bow out.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Time for the thread to "bow out."
    Thanked by 1mattebery
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 647
    Never, ever, accept a job playing in a church for any kind of service

    Very good advice! (Purple Bold)
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,573
    Alex .. I will take Dead-zillas for one hundred fifty.