Monday, October 29, 2007

greasy keyboards and guest organists

Am I the only organist who is bothered by this phenomenon?
Perhaps it is simply because my hands are always very dry, but I know that after I am done playing the organ, the keyboard is smoothly white, not a single smudge on it.
However, while I was in school and sharing practice rooms with other people, I noticed this during my last year (and only during my last year, making me think it was someone new,) I noticed that occasionally I would enter the practice room and begin to practice but immediately discover that there was some sort of smudgy/greasy material on the keyboard which was particularly annoying in that it created a sort of resistance of my fingers on the keys, which normally easily slide around. (this is in addition to the pure disgust at the thought of what it might be...) If you looked at it under the light, at the right angle, it could best be described as smudges obviously made by fingers, I can imagine that's what the keyboard would look like if someone had applied excessive amounts of lotion and then proceeded to practice. (I have, however, applied lotion to my hands and then immediately played the organ, and the next time I came back to the console I did not observe any lotion remnants!) But really, it is the feeling which is most annoying; how in contrast ones fingers normally glide along the keys, suddenly, to encounter on almost every key this strange substance which inhibits sliding to smoothly.
so, anyhow, since I have had my own organ, I have not had to deal with this.

...UNTIL....Saturday evening Mass, after another organist had played for a wedding that afternoon, this strange substance was on my organ! (in addition to other tell-tale signs of a poor organist, such as the crescendo pedal being "on." hmph.) on my organ! gross! so I proceeded to spend five minutes trying to wipe it off with a kleenex. ugh.

and speaking of guest is my understanding that it is typical for the organist of the church to get paid even if they are not the organist for a wedding or funeral (if the family has a friend or something, that they would rather use.) would all of my organist readers post their take (for the benefit of my dear boss, who might possibly read this,) on whether you think it is standard for the organist of the church to still get paid in those situations. Or is that just a protestant thing? And is that in your job contract?


Cantor said...


For one, I don’t have a job contract. Many dioceses actually prohibit them.

If I sub at your church and you receive a fee nonetheless, this is called a “bench fee”. It’s a hot-button topic.

My take on bench fees is that, because an organ is an instrument that one should know individually before playing it publicly, they serve a useful purpose of discouraging outside organists. Moreover, each church’s liturgy is different, and introducing a new organist into the mix is asking for miscommunication.

The amount of the fee varies; some churches give the organist the entire fee, while others set it at a portion thereof.

Even major churches, though, don’t always give their organists bench fees.

Mara Joy said...

(ok, I don't have a job contract either, I'm just not sure what else to call the agreement thingy, even if it's not written, like what you get paid to do...)

Domini Sumus said...

My bench fee is my full atipend. Since my parish instituted the bench fee, the number of people requesting that "Aunt Sue's neighbor's daughter's cousin" comes to play have almost completely disappeared.

In addition, our requirement that all musicians who perform at my parish be liturgical musicians verifiably employed in a Catholic parish somewhere in the world has also made a huge difference.

Although neither guarantees good quality music, it does eliminate the "Wedding Singers" and obscure family member who have "pretty voices", but really can't carry a tune in a bucket.

As for the strange substance, I have only encountered it once and i have no idea what it is. I can only assume that it is some sort of lotion.