Director thinks she can dictate my choice of organ registration
  • I was offered a chance to sub at a TLM church but it's a very long drive from where I live. We know the music director there well and she is getting older. I'm hesitant for many other reasons, but maybe I should give her a call. At least I'd feel better knowing there might be an opportunity there in the future.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,886
    We know the music director there well and she is getting older.


    Don't push her off a cliff to get the job, but there is nothing wrong with substituting. Sometimes those sub jobs can lead to something permanent.
  • People who seek to destroy my family's entire way of life, who pretend to preach Catholic values of charity and humility but aim their daggers at us whenever they feel like it.
    I know I am going to hear about this, but want to caution you. If you are thin skinned enough to be bothered by people (most people are), there will be a very good chance that you will find some people at the TLM that even the priests are afraid of. Especially when it comes to telling you how you should live, think and breath.

    There are extremists everywhere...
  • Hence why I said "hesitant for other reasons". And for the record none of this has anything to do with being "thin skinned", and I might add that the reason behind the campaign of attacks against my family has nothing to do with our status as faithful, practicing Catholics and everything to do with our socioeconomic status disturbing their stereotypes of working class people and their rose colored view of the world. So unless the TLM hates working class Catholics as much as my current home parish does, I'm not that concerned. If they do hate us more, then no, I don't need more of that in my life.
  • @CharlesW: LOL I certainly would not push her off a cliff. I only mentioned that because she herself told us that, and she is thinking about retirement now. She's invited me up there many times, at the very least I should take her up on the offer.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW CHGiffen
  • Sounds like you should cultivate this relationship!
    Thanked by 2CharlesW CHGiffen
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,129
    Depends upon what you are registering:

    1. Choral accomp
    2. Hymn accomp
    3. Solo works

    Which one?
    Thanked by 2Kathy Caleferink
  • It was a hymn. At the Name of Jesus, to be exact. I discussed registration with my teacher, told her what kind of sound I had in mind (warm sound for first three verses, then slightly brighter for the last.) Teacher thought I had a good plan, adjusted a few things, we saved the setting, all I had to do was push a button Sunday morning and there it would be, just as she created it.
  • Without wishing to fault someone whom I have just tried to encourage, I must say that I don't envision the beginning stanzas of Sine nomine as 'warm'. Vigourous and energetic would be my interpretation of this particular marriage of text and tune which, to me, has a decidedly imperative mood.
    Thanked by 1BruceL
  • Not subdued by any means..I was erring on the side of caution since our choir averages 8-10 people on a good day and I was counseled several times not to overpower them, as this had been a common complaint when my teacher was still their organist LOL. Imperative yes, loud with every trumpet you've got, not with our group.
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,029
    Kings Weston?
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,129
    This is my take on the situation:

    If you are registering for a solo piece, the choice should be soley up to you.
    If you are registering for a choral piece, the choice should be a discussion between the two of you.
    If you are registering for a hymn and are setting combos for such, well, I think you have a luxury of time. I envy you.

    For hymn registration I tend to use the principals only, sometimes a string stop if it calls for a "richer" sound. I suspect that is what your friend is looking for. Probably less highs and mixtures and a chorus of 8 foot stops. Most organists seem to think that to accompany a hymn you need to pull out at least four stops. Sometimes I just use the 8' Principal (if it has enough body to do so).

    For choral registration, the sky is the limit, but the number one priority would be not to overwhelm the choir. Something many organists are at fault to do.

    As a rule (in my book), less is more, especially with a good organ that speaks well and truly supports congregational singing with a minimum of stops. I often use the 8 and 4 on the Swell for the second or third verse with the 16 and 8 Prin on the pedal (or just the 16 coupled to the SW or GT). It truly lets the congregation hear themselves and also adds contrast to when you come back to full organ, say, for the final verse. Also, I like to use the Cornet (or light reed) on the Swell for the melody and use an 8' flute or principal and play closed chord harmonizations on the GT (usually three voices) and more unusual inversions or even a countermelody in the pedal line. I never know how many verses we are going to sing, so I pull registrations on the fly since the length of the procession determines the number of verses.

    As per the subject of a predetermined length of hymn, well, there are threads that discuss that issue, but the truth is, music is not supposed to dictate the 'rhythm' of the liturgical action. Put bluntly, hymns shouldn't be accompanying the processions... the Propers should. If what was prescribed was always employed, timing would not be an issue because the Propers are quite flexible in the time that they can take WITHOUT destroying the poetry or intellectual content employed. (Antiphon, verses, Gloria Patri). Each item is a portion of text that stands on it's own AND when linked consecutively to one another with the option of repeating the Antiphon. Hymns truly are an anomaly to the Mass. Sequence hymns are an entirely different matter. They are a poem that is meant to be sung as long as it takes. We use the four hymn sandwich at some of our Masses, and I ALWAYS experience it to be a bit awkward in terms of timing AND being a good fit contextually. Chorales (hymns) work much better in an Oratorio, a Cantata or the LOH.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • MBWMBW
    Posts: 175
    If we are talking about accompanying a congregational hymn, it is a whole new ball game!
    There are more factors to take into consideration and a different, but pretty much equal, complexity in the registration choices. A Music Director should have a significant say in the overall approach to hymns, with the organist making most of the day to day decisions. A Choir Director (who is not also Music Director) has nothing (except friendly, somewhat obsequious advice) to say about hymn registration.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,372
    The important thing, though, with hymns is to support the congregation. The organist should have more control over registrations for a hymn, with the ability to alter the registration 'on the go' to suit the congregation: Even if the choirmaster wants tutti for a hymn, if there are only 10 people in the congregation and only 2 of them are singing, 8's (maybe adding a 4') would work better, & v.v. they may want only 8'+4', but that mightn't support a congregation of 250 people who sing loudly (not that you're likely to find that in the average Catholic parish, but humor me). With choral literature, the choirmaster should have a bit more say, but, with all of this taste is the over-riding thing. An untrained musician might hear a certain sound that they want, but that sound might be in incredibly bad taste - such as playing Kings Weston with only 8' + 2' flutes. Blech.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,886
    I have a pastor who loves the sound of full organ, so I typically use it on the last verse of entrance and recessional hymns. That is, if the hymns are ones that lend themselves to it. He says, "crank it up. I love it."
  • Whilst viewing the exhibit of an English manor house at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston last year I was approached by a man whom I did not know, but who called me by name. As I was computing my confusion he said, 'I go to St Basil's, and I just love it when you play because I don't need my hearing aid'. He was obviously speaking with good will and assured me that he liked the organ with all the stops pulled out. Of course I was quick to point out that I don't pull them all out all the time, of which he was aware. It's curious, though, isn't it?, that people who grumble about the organ being too loud never seem to notice that most of the time it isn't! People who are not really qualified to make certain judgments should be dismissed with half a grain of salt (after, of course, saying something nice to them).
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,224
    At least he liked what he heard and wanted to listen! He could have said he left it out when you play so as not to listen... :)
  • Isn't it odd, how, sometimes, we know full well that every effective stop is pulled out and there really aren't any more, that we, nonetheless, peer intently over (and over, and over) the stop jambs whilst playing, to see if there isn't yet another level of intensity that we could (authoritatively!) PULL. Of course, we know full well that there isn't, but we glare about (perhaps with nose high and lifted up) for sight of yet another one just the same.

    (Someone once told of a certain dean of St Paul's, London, who remarked to his organist: 'you organists are like a milk horse - always wanting another stop'. [Now then, which of us remembers the milk wagon making its daily rounds! - Not me.])
  • as this had been a common complaint when my teacher was still their organist LOL.
    You really cannot take this teacher's advice. Otherwise you are going to hear the same complaints, right?
    Thanked by 1CCooze
  • LOL that is a good point, Noel, but she is a very beloved fixture in the church and even if she did do something "off" they'd just laugh and say "Oh there she goes again! Silly old woman, but we love her."

    I'm sorry I haven't had time to respond, I will give more thoughtful replies when I have a chance. Today I had to drive an hour and a half to retrieve my violin, then I have to go face the pastor at my home church this afternoon and find out if he's one of the shepherds or one of the wolves...Or at least how much influence the wolves have over him...pray for me. :(
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Yesterday I had to drive 3 hours and a half to drop off my cello for repair...so I've got you beat.
  • Yikes! I hate driving. Wears me out for the rest of the day. I'd better get used to it though, I may be returning to school (considering MLIS with music concentration at Kent State) again in the spring and I will have to make that drive every day...
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,894
    Or at least how much influence the wolves have over him.


    It will probably depend on how much money some of the wolves have.
  • As it turned out, he unfortunately has no authority to effect any change or even discuss the problem with those who do have authority. It troubles me that he claimed not to know who does have that authority, but since the local parochial schools banded together and formed their own "district" this is how things are done. He may not have any clue who to contact. Gone are the days of individual churches having any jurisdiction over their schools, now they are run like public schools with superintendents and school boards...So, I guess it's onward to the "higher ups" there.
    @matthewj: thanks for the laugh :-)
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,894
    That's a little confusing. How does the pastor not have the authority over goings on in his own parish? It's even more troubling that he doesn't know (or won't tell you) who to contact (also likely that he wants to wash his hands of this, and is telling you he doesn't know so that he doesn't have to confront them). There has to be a supervisor somewhere, even if that person isn't really doing his/her job very well.

    I will reiterate that if you haven't already done so, you should confront the music director directly (no pun intended). She should know how you feel, even if you think she doesn't care. At least that way, you've done your due diligence in communicating with her. You may come out of it with an agreement, though, and your situation may be resolved in that manner.
  • He is still in charge of financial aid and tuition assistance decision-making, but said regarding academics and student services, he knows nothing about any of that. They consolidated the remaining parochial schools here into their own "entity", so I will call the main office and try to find out who is in charge over there. I've had good relations with their finance director, great guy, has nine adopted children and one with significant special needs and put all of them through Catholic school, so I will likely talk to him first since he seems to be in the know about stuff. Our oldest child has a learning disability and has had a service plan in place ever since he started school. We are pleased with it and with the help he receives, but the principal of the school decided for reasons unknown that these services are inadequate, despite my son making progress and meeting or exceeding goals set in the plan. To make matters more complicated, the school has a satellite transition program with another school that exclusively serves special needs children--a school where my husband happens to be the supervisor. The principal is short staffed and my husband has had multiple reports of his teachers being assigned to duties not related to their placement as classroom aids (being used for recess duty or babysit while the classroom teacher runs an errand, etc). His theory is that the principal wants another body in the building and is being opportunistic with our situation. What she wants will not materialize, because the path to getting it is not as easy as "Oh well you work at X School so maybe you can get one of YOUR teachers to be your son's aid, we really think he needs to be one-on-one with an aide." The state of Ohio does NOT give out scholarships like candy and a child has to have a significant medical diagnosis to receive funding for a full time aide. The ones who DO have aides are usually ones with severe disabilities that affect their behavior as well as academic performance, and our son is impeccably well behaved and does not have behavioral or social difficulties. So, to make an already long story short, the principal's ultimatum was get your kid a full time aide or he can no longer attend school here. Not even kidding. We are waiting to hear from Akron Children's Hospital regarding his next round of tests, something we were extremely hesitant to do because he's already had to do this several times and each time the result was "well, we can't really pinpoint what's wrong." When they set the appointment, this will be the most extensive testing he's had to go through yet, and even when we were filling out the questionnaire we knew that the results probably won't be what the principal is looking for. At the most, my son might qualify for what's known as the John Peterson scholarship, and only one of our local parochial schools accepts it- and you guessed it, it isn't their current school. We explained to the principal that if she is persistent in her demands and the testing does not give the results she expects that we will not just put our oldest son in another school but will pull his two siblings as well. In a school that is bleeding students (many of them for similar reasons-families being treated poorly) and the dire future of Catholic schools here in general, it seems baffling that the principal is willing to lose an entire family over this issue, and, to be honest, I don't believe that the superintendent will be pleased to hear about it.
    Because we reside in one of the worst public school districts in the country, the voucher program is ever-expanding, and we got word from insiders that our local Montessori school is being added to the list of alternatives. If worst comes to worst, we may consider it, and actually considered it many years ago before we ended up where we are now. I try not to get upset, but too often I find myself looking back and wishing through tears that I'd stuck to my guns years ago and made different decisions. But we do what we think is best at any given time, with whatever resources we have at that time.

    At the end of most days, this is why I let all this nonsense with the music director just slide. But I should talk to her. There are a lot of changes being made at the "work" church and she has talked to me about a lot of them. They are really trying hard to grow our congregation, and also address smaller details too. It's nice that the church wants to include us in these discussions, and they should considering if we don't start building our numbers we might all be out of a job. I suspect much of the nitpicking is coming from over her head...
  • jcr
    Posts: 31
    I am a choral director who has an excellent organist who happens to be my wife. She is an excellent musician and I am interested in her opinion, not only about organ registration, but also with the choir and other matters musical. We often discuss registration and she frequently asks me to listen to something and give and opinion. If I were working with a neophyte organist, I would make recommendations, but I would strive to be tactful, collaborative, and private. I have had this situation a number of times in the past. Unfortunately, there are a great many "choral conductors" whose skill level falls far short of their brass and who are giving out instructions to the choir and others that may or may not be valid or helpful. Conferring in private and discussing the merits or shortcomings of registrations is a professional activity. Making public corrections before the choir, cantors, or soloists is just grandstanding.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,129
    Registration... a very touchy subject that is in itself highly subjective. Unless you are talking about registration for accompaniment, it is strongly a personal preference. If it's a digital organ, the volume and placement of speakers can really be a problem. Digital organs are rarely voiced correctly for the space they inhabit.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,886
    I think most of us would prefer a pipe organ to an electronic on most days, unless the pipe instrument is particularly bad. When one takes a position at a parish, one plays what they have. If they can be persuaded to buy something better, great. But that doesn't always happen,

    I'm a real organist, degree and all. I have played digitals, and did the best I could do on them. Most of us do the same. I am now fortunate to have a pipe instrument, but I don't look down on those who don't have them. That would be really snotty.
    Thanked by 3chonak bhcordova stulte
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,676
    [Closing the thread (and deleting some pointless quibbling).--admin]
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