Is your choir director and/or protopsaltis a paid position at your church?

Does your parish have either or both your choir director and head chanter as a paid position?

  • Yes for both

    Votes: 3 13.6%
  • Yes for one

    Votes: 7 31.8%
  • No

    Votes: 12 54.5%

  • Total voters
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I said yes for one: the choir director. This is a technicality; she only gets $25 per week. We do not rehearse but somehow we get by. Our parish is between 250-300 including children.
 

Jakoblaj

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I marked "no", because unfortunately at my current parish the choir director nor the protopsalti is paid.  However I have started to push for a stipend to be given.  I worked as a choir director for my previous parish for the last few years and was given a stipend which amounted to around 7,500$ a year at a medium-sized parish.  I find that paying these positions is important.  This does not mean that we need to hire non-orthodox professionals for these positions.  I am an Orthodox professional musician and from my experience I see people who are qualified to take these positions who are in the church and would do the church a great service.
Benedict Sheehan has written an article that expresses my feelings on the matter much more fluently than I am able to so I share that article below. 
http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/77522.htm
 

scamandrius

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recent convert said:
I said yes for one: the choir director. This is a technicality; she only gets $25 per week. We do not rehearse but somehow we get by. Our parish is between 250-300 including children.
That's roughly the size of ours. If I had to put a number to what I was thinking it probably would be around maybe $100/week. Even $25 may not sound like much but add up 52 weeks a year. 
 

scamandrius

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Jakoblaj said:
I marked "no", because unfortunately at my current parish the choir director nor the protopsalti is paid.  However I have started to push for a stipend to be given.  I worked as a choir director for my previous parish for the last few years and was given a stipend which amounted to around 7,500$ a year at a medium-sized parish.  I find that paying these positions is important.  This does not mean that we need to hire non-orthodox professionals for these positions.  I am an Orthodox professional musician and from my experience I see people who are qualified to take these positions who are in the church and would do the church a great service.
Benedict Sheehan has written an article that expresses my feelings on the matter much more fluently than I am able to so I share that article below. 
http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/77522.htm
I referenced that same article above.  That, as well as a discussion among other psalti, were the main impetus for my thinking on this whole issue.
 

Porter ODoran

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scamandrius said:
minasoliman said:
Throwing money at the problem is only a short term solution I think. Prepare the next generation then.  Have the parents bring their kids to hymns learning.
Again, they are unwilling; the kids, too.
I hear you saying Christ had failed you; you're going to try Mammon.
 

Agabus

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hecma925 said:
I try not to get annoyed, but it's sad that a 25+year old parish still handles a choir like its a 5 person mission.  Even better, when I hear the choir of a mission parish that sounds like they actually train and practice (unpaid and non-professionals, just people putting time in); it makes me glad for their parish, but sad for mine.
The parish I've spent the most time in was a small mission in Mississippi that somehow had two experienced volunteer choir directors (one stepped in after the other stepped down) and two members who had gone to summer training sessions at St. Vlads. Even though it was small, it was the kind of musical experience that would see people want to convert on aesthetic appeal alone. There are definitely moments I miss it.

Our current parish, which is decades old, struggles if the de facto leader (the aforementioned loud guy) doesn't show up. For years, they had an organ and a chanter, but in recent years the organ was phased out (thankfully -- the arrangement they used was awful) and the chanter has moved on to a mission he basically founded himself closer to home. But somewhere along the way those of us in the pews (!) decided that it's better to struggle than stand there in silence. We've talked about having some kind of choir rehearsal once a week, but it's been difficult to arrange because a lot of the people who would do it are commuters. We'll see.
 

Iconodule

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When I last served on a parish council, the choir director received a fairly paltry yearly stipend. It was better than nothing, but I marvel at how much local heterodox churches pay their directors, organists, etc., often with shrinking congregations.
 

Agabus

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Iconodule said:
When I last served on a parish council, the choir director received a fairly paltry yearly stipend. It was better than nothing, but I marvel at how much local heterodox churches pay their directors, organists, etc., often with shrinking congregations.
The Baptists of my youth had a full-time "Minister of Music." It wasn't a huge church, either.
 

scamandrius

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Porter ODoran said:
scamandrius said:
minasoliman said:
Throwing money at the problem is only a short term solution I think. Prepare the next generation then.  Have the parents bring their kids to hymns learning.
Again, they are unwilling; the kids, too.
I hear you saying Christ had failed you; you're going to try Mammon.
Get your hearing checked because if that's what you're hearing, you need hearing aids.
 

Justin Kolodziej

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We just hired a choir director not too long ago. I actually made the mistake of attending the general assembly before I was even chrismated when the issue was discussed, and also have the minutes from said general assembly where the salary was put at 22k but really should have been 40k if collections would have allowed that much.  The main reason for this, apparently, is that the Divine Liturgy is very complex and a choir director who can keep everything straight deserves that much money. Also, we need to be competitive with other congregations (Orthodox or otherwise) that do have professionals directing their choirs.

There was also already an item for the choir overall at around 7500, but I don't know if that included the organist (previously doubling as the choir director) and/or protopsaltis and/or other chanters.

It's a fairly large GOAA parish, I want to say 300 pledging families?


 

minasoliman

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It seems like this is a culture I'm very unfamiliar with.  I've attended a few EO liturgies and I didn't feel I got lost.  I felt I could get the hang of it quickly given the Coptic rite we use, which is way more complicated from my pov.  I was even chanting with the choir, to the point where some of the members told me to join, not knowing I'm OO.

So I am having a hard time understanding why parish members are unwilling at least to send their young ones to choir practice.  We begin teaching kids at a very early age, 5-6 years.  That's what is keeping them in liturgy.  Familiarity, and getting used to learning the hymns at a very very very young age.  Otherwise, no one will take the time to learn the Coptic hymns in our church, because they can be a little tough sometimes to learn, especially in their original language.
 

scamandrius

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minasoliman said:
So I am having a hard time understanding why parish members are unwilling at least to send their young ones to choir practice.  We begin teaching kids at a very early age, 5-6 years.  That's what is keeping them in liturgy.  Familiarity, and getting used to learning the hymns at a very very very young age.  Otherwise, no one will take the time to learn the Coptic hymns in our church, because they can be a little tough sometimes to learn, especially in their original language.
I'm not saying my parish is necessarily representative of EOs with regards to this subject.  One thing I have noticed over the past 12 years that I have been a member of this parish is that my fellow parishioners will get all excited about a new endeavor, whatever that may be (service, ministry, class, study, etc.) which will last for one or two events and then fade away.  For instance, my priest when he was first assigned to our parish was approached by one of the "old guards" who said that the people here didn't know the Orthodox faith and were eager for Fr. to teach.  So, Fr. prepared and taught a few classes with a great attendance, but after a few, no one came.  I've seen this myself with people wanting to learn Byzantine chant.  Now, I'm not in any position to teach the psaltic art though I do teachde facto because of my presence at the analogion. I would say we have had over ten people over the past few years say they really wanted to learn, but after a couple of sessions, they said they weren't interested anymore.  It's just what we've got.  BUt that doesn't mean we should surrender to mediocrity.  That's why I'm making a push for this.  Let me put it this way:  if our priest were not trained well and qualified, the parishioners would be up in arms.  Draw a parallel between that and a well trained, qualified choir director.  The two should synch up.
 

hecma925

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minasoliman said:
It seems like this is a culture I'm very unfamiliar with.  I've attended a few EO liturgies and I didn't feel I got lost.  I felt I could get the hang of it quickly given the Coptic rite we use, which is way more complicated from my pov.  I was even chanting with the choir, to the point where some of the members told me to join, not knowing I'm OO.

So I am having a hard time understanding why parish members are unwilling at least to send their young ones to choir practice.  We begin teaching kids at a very early age, 5-6 years.  That's what is keeping them in liturgy.  Familiarity, and getting used to learning the hymns at a very very very young age.  Otherwise, no one will take the time to learn the Coptic hymns in our church, because they can be a little tough sometimes to learn, especially in their original language.
Yup.

Another article:

https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/musicstand/good-church-music-starts-with-kids/
 

Dominika

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minasoliman said:
So I am having a hard time understanding why parish members are unwilling at least to send their young ones to choir practice.  We begin teaching kids at a very early age, 5-6 years.  That's what is keeping them in liturgy.  Familiarity, and getting used to learning the hymns at a very very very young age.  Otherwise, no one will take the time to learn the Coptic hymns in our church, because they can be a little tough sometimes to learn, especially in their original language.
+1 I love the Coptic approach to the hymns. Well, mabye sometimes it's... Too much oncentration on the way of chanting instead of the words (maybe I'm wrong in my observations). But, due to this approach, the hymns and their ancient melodies survived well despite difficult circumstances in Egypt and then in diaspora. It's also the way for chidlren to accustomed to the chants, that are totally different music from the one they're going to listen "in the world".
There is a children choir at my parish that sings during the first Liturgy (that's dedicated to school children and youth and their parents, since they have religion classes after it) and it's a good way of their involvemnet and get know at least a bit Church Slavonic language. But, unfortunately, not all choidlren want/no all parents want their children to join the choir. So, maybe 1/4 of the parish children sing.

And singing/chanting it's a really good way to focus children on the service. It also applies to adults. E.g yesteday evening I was more focused on the Akathist when I was singing at least its refrains, than usually For me it's too long and too much schematical, so, sometimes, just boring. But it's a totally different percpetion when the whcol congregation, e.g on pilgrimages or at the Holy Mount Grabarka, sing the all chanting parts of an Akathist.
 

LBK

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scamandrius said:
minasoliman said:
So I am having a hard time understanding why parish members are unwilling at least to send their young ones to choir practice.  We begin teaching kids at a very early age, 5-6 years.  That's what is keeping them in liturgy.  Familiarity, and getting used to learning the hymns at a very very very young age.  Otherwise, no one will take the time to learn the Coptic hymns in our church, because they can be a little tough sometimes to learn, especially in their original language.
I'm not saying my parish is necessarily representative of EOs with regards to this subject.  One thing I have noticed over the past 12 years that I have been a member of this parish is that my fellow parishioners will get all excited about a new endeavor, whatever that may be (service, ministry, class, study, etc.) which will last for one or two events and then fade away.  For instance, my priest when he was first assigned to our parish was approached by one of the "old guards" who said that the people here didn't know the Orthodox faith and were eager for Fr. to teach.  So, Fr. prepared and taught a few classes with a great attendance, but after a few, no one came.  I've seen this myself with people wanting to learn Byzantine chant.  Now, I'm not in any position to teach the psaltic art though I do teachde facto because of my presence at the analogion. I would say we have had over ten people over the past few years say they really wanted to learn, but after a couple of sessions, they said they weren't interested anymore.  It's just what we've got.  BUt that doesn't mean we should surrender to mediocrity.  That's why I'm making a push for this.  Let me put it this way:  if our priest were not trained well and qualified, the parishioners would be up in arms.  Draw a parallel between that and a well trained, qualified choir director.  The two should synch up.
Paying the choirmaster or the protopsaltis will not shake people out of their apathy.
 

minasoliman

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scamandrius said:
minasoliman said:
So I am having a hard time understanding why parish members are unwilling at least to send their young ones to choir practice.  We begin teaching kids at a very early age, 5-6 years.  That's what is keeping them in liturgy.  Familiarity, and getting used to learning the hymns at a very very very young age.  Otherwise, no one will take the time to learn the Coptic hymns in our church, because they can be a little tough sometimes to learn, especially in their original language.
I'm not saying my parish is necessarily representative of EOs with regards to this subject.  One thing I have noticed over the past 12 years that I have been a member of this parish is that my fellow parishioners will get all excited about a new endeavor, whatever that may be (service, ministry, class, study, etc.) which will last for one or two events and then fade away.  For instance, my priest when he was first assigned to our parish was approached by one of the "old guards" who said that the people here didn't know the Orthodox faith and were eager for Fr. to teach.  So, Fr. prepared and taught a few classes with a great attendance, but after a few, no one came.  I've seen this myself with people wanting to learn Byzantine chant.  Now, I'm not in any position to teach the psaltic art though I do teachde facto because of my presence at the analogion. I would say we have had over ten people over the past few years say they really wanted to learn, but after a couple of sessions, they said they weren't interested anymore.  It's just what we've got.  BUt that doesn't mean we should surrender to mediocrity.  That's why I'm making a push for this.  Let me put it this way:  if our priest were not trained well and qualified, the parishioners would be up in arms.  Draw a parallel between that and a well trained, qualified choir director.  The two should synch up.
So let me ask this: will the parishioners be directly paying for the choir leader?
 

scamandrius

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minasoliman said:
scamandrius said:
minasoliman said:
So I am having a hard time understanding why parish members are unwilling at least to send their young ones to choir practice.  We begin teaching kids at a very early age, 5-6 years.  That's what is keeping them in liturgy.  Familiarity, and getting used to learning the hymns at a very very very young age.  Otherwise, no one will take the time to learn the Coptic hymns in our church, because they can be a little tough sometimes to learn, especially in their original language.
I'm not saying my parish is necessarily representative of EOs with regards to this subject.  One thing I have noticed over the past 12 years that I have been a member of this parish is that my fellow parishioners will get all excited about a new endeavor, whatever that may be (service, ministry, class, study, etc.) which will last for one or two events and then fade away.  For instance, my priest when he was first assigned to our parish was approached by one of the "old guards" who said that the people here didn't know the Orthodox faith and were eager for Fr. to teach.  So, Fr. prepared and taught a few classes with a great attendance, but after a few, no one came.  I've seen this myself with people wanting to learn Byzantine chant.  Now, I'm not in any position to teach the psaltic art though I do teachde facto because of my presence at the analogion. I would say we have had over ten people over the past few years say they really wanted to learn, but after a couple of sessions, they said they weren't interested anymore.  It's just what we've got.  BUt that doesn't mean we should surrender to mediocrity.  That's why I'm making a push for this.  Let me put it this way:  if our priest were not trained well and qualified, the parishioners would be up in arms.  Draw a parallel between that and a well trained, qualified choir director.  The two should synch up.
So let me ask this: will the parishioners be directly paying for the choir leader?
I want it to be a budget item which is funded strictly from our tithes, so yes.
 

scamandrius

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LBK said:
scamandrius said:
minasoliman said:
So I am having a hard time understanding why parish members are unwilling at least to send their young ones to choir practice.  We begin teaching kids at a very early age, 5-6 years.  That's what is keeping them in liturgy.  Familiarity, and getting used to learning the hymns at a very very very young age.  Otherwise, no one will take the time to learn the Coptic hymns in our church, because they can be a little tough sometimes to learn, especially in their original language.
I'm not saying my parish is necessarily representative of EOs with regards to this subject.  One thing I have noticed over the past 12 years that I have been a member of this parish is that my fellow parishioners will get all excited about a new endeavor, whatever that may be (service, ministry, class, study, etc.) which will last for one or two events and then fade away.  For instance, my priest when he was first assigned to our parish was approached by one of the "old guards" who said that the people here didn't know the Orthodox faith and were eager for Fr. to teach.  So, Fr. prepared and taught a few classes with a great attendance, but after a few, no one came.  I've seen this myself with people wanting to learn Byzantine chant.  Now, I'm not in any position to teach the psaltic art though I do teachde facto because of my presence at the analogion. I would say we have had over ten people over the past few years say they really wanted to learn, but after a couple of sessions, they said they weren't interested anymore.  It's just what we've got.  BUt that doesn't mean we should surrender to mediocrity.  That's why I'm making a push for this.  Let me put it this way:  if our priest were not trained well and qualified, the parishioners would be up in arms.  Draw a parallel between that and a well trained, qualified choir director.  The two should synch up.
Paying the choirmaster or the protopsaltis will not shake people out of their apathy.
If there is a monetary value associated with it, then I think people will start to demand returns on the investment. 
 

DeniseDenise

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scamandrius said:
LBK said:
scamandrius said:
minasoliman said:
So I am having a hard time understanding why parish members are unwilling at least to send their young ones to choir practice.  We begin teaching kids at a very early age, 5-6 years.  That's what is keeping them in liturgy.  Familiarity, and getting used to learning the hymns at a very very very young age.  Otherwise, no one will take the time to learn the Coptic hymns in our church, because they can be a little tough sometimes to learn, especially in their original language.
I'm not saying my parish is necessarily representative of EOs with regards to this subject.  One thing I have noticed over the past 12 years that I have been a member of this parish is that my fellow parishioners will get all excited about a new endeavor, whatever that may be (service, ministry, class, study, etc.) which will last for one or two events and then fade away.  For instance, my priest when he was first assigned to our parish was approached by one of the "old guards" who said that the people here didn't know the Orthodox faith and were eager for Fr. to teach.  So, Fr. prepared and taught a few classes with a great attendance, but after a few, no one came.  I've seen this myself with people wanting to learn Byzantine chant.  Now, I'm not in any position to teach the psaltic art though I do teachde facto because of my presence at the analogion. I would say we have had over ten people over the past few years say they really wanted to learn, but after a couple of sessions, they said they weren't interested anymore.  It's just what we've got.  BUt that doesn't mean we should surrender to mediocrity.  That's why I'm making a push for this.  Let me put it this way:  if our priest were not trained well and qualified, the parishioners would be up in arms.  Draw a parallel between that and a well trained, qualified choir director.  The two should synch up.
Paying the choirmaster or the protopsaltis will not shake people out of their apathy.
If there is a monetary value associated with it, then I think people will start to demand returns on the investment.

Unless you are going to pay enough for that person to harangue parishioners into rehearsing.....

 

scamandrius

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^You really don't get it, do you?  And that's OK.  Perhaps you should stop acting as if you know what's going on at my parish.
 
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