By Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene (get free updates of new posts here)
Have you ever didn't get payed for playing at the funeral? Vidas has.
Last Thursday he accidentally went to our church for practice and found out that a guest organist will be playing pre-service music for the funeral that day.
It turns out that organizers thought this organist will play for the funeral service but because of some sort of miscommunication he had some schedule conflict and had to be in another place during this service.
Vidas told me that because he is the person who closes the door when it's cold in the room without being asked, he politely offered for his colleague to jump in an save the day by playing at the funeral which he did.
After the service obviously everyone left for the cemetery and Vidas didn't get payed without any explanation or feedback.
Because he is polite and understands that during funerals people have so much stress and grief on their mind that it's natural to simply forget to pay the organist (or perhaps they thought the organist should play for free).
However, I think it's important to not be silent about it because not paying for music might become the norm in your church.
Obviously, if one hates asking for money in person, then after the initial call from the organizers or relatives of the deceised one could send a simple text message with some information about organist's rates and payment method, perhaps also with titles of music selections.
Have you ever been in such situation? If so, how did you handle it politely and with respect to everyone involved?
If you are preparing to play some organ pieces for a funeral, it's worth taking the time to consider these 4 qualities that this music ought to have:
1. Easy. Unlike for the weddings, usually we don't have much time to prepare the music to play for a funeral. We may get a call only a day in advance. Don't play anything that you can't play fluently after practicing for an hour or so.
2. Slow. On such occasion, you don't want to draw the attention of the people in attendance to yourself as being a virtuoso. Remember, your audience is deep in thoughts and prayers today.
3. Soft. Similarly to the previous point, if the organ plays too loud, then people will start to get an impression of the organ as being a central reason of their gathering. Today is not this day. Help their prayers and don't disturb them.
4. Hopeful. I personally found funeral marches of the 19th century composers, like Guilmant, Lefebure-Wely and others too depressing for the present times. I have played them, just as an experiment, but I believe people of today don't want to hear the music that is too sad - it just makes their state harder than it already is.
Having the above points in mind, here are some pieces to get you started: Bach's chorale harmonizations, some of Pachelbel's chorale preludes and some of the slower fugues and ricercares as well as some of the ornamented chorale preludes by Buxtehude. Not all of the pieces in these collections will work for funerals so choose carefully.
DON'T MISS A THING! FREE UPDATES BY EMAIL.
You have successfully joined our subscriber list.
Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
Our Hauptwerk Setup: