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Unsolicited playing in churches?

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  • Unsolicited playing in churches?

    Hi all,

    I have been browsing this forum for a bit & thought I'd sign up even though I'm not an organist per-se.

    Anyway, I wanted to get some thoughts on what I have said in the title of this post. As in, do you consider it ethical to just walk into an empty&/or unlocked church, sit down at the organ & just play away?


  • #2
    No, it is never appropriate. If there are issues with the organ, the person who walks in would not know. If it's a pipe organ, depending on the repair/issue, it could actually damage an instrument.

    If an organist goes into a strange church, it is ALWAYS best practice to ask permission before playing any of their instruments.

    Michael
    Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
    • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
    • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
    • 11 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 7 Pianos

    Comment


    • #3
      This guy, Terry Miles, makes uninvited visits to churches in the UK to see if there is a piano. If there is he has no qualms in playing it and, if there is no piano, he's not afraid to have a go on the organ. So far as I know he hasn't got into trouble yet.
      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=lMZyU7H3liU
      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ShcmvLnpb7U
      Plenty of further examples on YouTube.
      Previous: Elka Crescendo 303, Technics G7, Yamaha EL-90
      Current: Yamaha AR-100

      Comment


      • #4
        I've come across a few churches in the Netherlands that are open during the day and where visiting musicians are invited to play the organ. However, wherever this was the case, there was a sign giving some information and also additional instructions right at the organ. Plus you were asked to give a donation if possible.
        But that's rather an exception, not a rule.
        In our area, either the church is open for visitors, and the organ is locked, or both are locked and you have to ask for the key. Sometimes you'll be allowed to play, sometimes you won't.

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        • #5
          Good point Michael regarding pipe organs. I personally would be hesitant to have a go on one without asking someone for the reasons you have outlined. Anyway, in my experience & in the area where I live, the organ console is generally up in a choir gallery, which in turn is almost always locked when not in use, or needs a key to switch on the motor. That's in cases where the pipe organ is still playable, which more often than not it isn't, sadly.

          Years ago I used to go into churches fairly regularly to play on electronic organs. A friend of mine back then also did this. The basic rule was that if the organ was unlocked, it was fair game to be played. On the rare occasions that anyone did see/hear me playing, they either said nothing & carried on about their business, or actually gave me a nice compliment while I was finishing up & heading out the door. I never experienced a negative reaction.

          That was well over 10 years ago at this point. It's only recently that I came across a small roadside church located on a rural back road, called in for a moment & saw that they had a very nice Mason & Hamlin harmonium which I played. I pass through the area regularly enough while on the job. If I have the time (i.e. not in too much of a hurry to be somewhere else), I call in to play for a while. There was never anyone else around on the past 5 or 6 occasions that I've been there so far.

          Another church that I came across recently had a Viscount CL-40 electronic organ of late 70s or early 80s vintage. The cover was unlocked, but the plug on the power cable had been removed, which I am guessing was done for a reason. I could very easily have re-wired it with a spare plug from the toolbox I was carrying with me in the van, but I wasn't going to do this for fear of causing a big bang.

          So I think I'll stick with the playing the harmonium for now, that is, until if &/or when anyone objects to me doing so...

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by RogerM View Post
            This guy, Terry Miles, makes uninvited visits to churches in the UK to see if there is a piano. If there is he has no qualms in playing it and, if there is no piano, he's not afraid to have a go on the organ. So far as I know he hasn't got into trouble yet.
            https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=lMZyU7H3liU
            https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ShcmvLnpb7U
            Plenty of further examples on YouTube.
            Wow, thanks for sending on the link. I'm currently watching his youtube channel...

            Comment


            • RogerM
              RogerM commented
              Editing a comment
              Let me know when you get to Boogie Woogie in the Cathedral 😇

          • #7
            Originally posted by RogerM View Post
            This guy, Terry Miles, makes uninvited visits to churches in the UK to see if there is a piano. If there is he has no qualms in playing it and, if there is no piano, he's not afraid to have a go on the organ.
            Roger,

            That is unfortunate! However, he's nothing like the local "organ repair" person who attended a wedding at my church. The following Sunday, I went to unlock the console (strangely left unlocked), and found his calling card left on the console. I thought it was rather ballsy to unlock a locked console, and to leave a card there–implying it needed service. How rude!

            However, he's nothing like the other, legitimate organ repair person who was called in to work on an organ at my wife's church (my organ), and totally messed up the wiring to the speakers. The net result was that the organist "retired" because of the change in sound, and no one has played the organ since.

            Michael
            Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
            • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
            • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
            • 11 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 7 Pianos

            Comment

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