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How Much?!

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  • How Much?!

    I know this is a touchy subject, so I'll be as discreet as possible.

    Catholic Church. 2 Services/Week. 1 Rehearsal/Week. 30 min. drive ONE WAY. Sometimes extra music and reversals. 150-200 people attend per service. Student-Aged; plays quite well. In total (plus holy holy, alleluia) 11 "hymns". 4 hymns, and then psalm, mass parts

    How much would you pay an organist?


  • #2
    Assuming 10 hours per week, AGO salary guidelines would have the base salary around $15,000 per year, or roughly $300 per week. That would be a lot for around here. I have seen positions like that listed for $6,600 - $10,000 ($125-$200 per week). Not sure if denomination plays a role here or not, but suspect it does. Same goes for age. It shouldn't matter, but I suspect many people think that the time of young persons (particularly school age) is worth less than that of older individuals.

    Johann Sebastian Bach

    (at Home) Conn 645 Theater Deluxe
    (at Church) 1836 E. & G.G. Hook Bros, Opus 26


    • #3
      Somewhere between $200 and $300 per week sounds reasonable to me. Pay might vary depending on the level of responsibility. If you are the only musician on staff, and are responsible for the choir as well as playing the organ, the pay might be higher. If there is a paid choir director or overall music minister, and you are only playing the organ, the pay might be somewhat less.
      *** Please post your questions about technical service or repair matters ON THE FORUM. Do not send your questions to me or another member by private message. Information shared is for the benefit of the entire organ community, but other folks will not be helped by information we exchange in private messages!



      • #4
        Young Organist,

        And don't forget, it's that time of year again (tax time). Keep a written record of your mileage, and if you file a Schedule C as a musician (Profit/Loss From a Business), you can deduct mileage each way. One of the perks of being a musician.

        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)
        • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 6 Pianos


        • #5
          30 miles is a long commute to make for a position like this unless they are paying you at the high end of the scale Arthur C identified. Consider that if you make this commute 3 times per week (1 for choir rehearsal, 1 for Sunday morning, 1 for your own prep), you are looking at 180+ miles per week. At the standard mileage, the IRS allows that as roughly a $90 cost to you per week. That is before any additional Lenten, Advent, Christmas Eve, or other services beyond the basic 52 Sundays per year. The IRS does not give anything away, so even though it will not cost you that in gas, it is a real cost to you in the long run against the life of your vehicle.

          That is also a long commute in the winter. Road crews are not terribly prompt in cleaning roads on Sunday mornings.

          In order to claim mileage as a cost against your income, you will need to be an independent contractor (the schedule C form Michael references). In that case, you also will be responsible for the entire cost of Social Security taxes, not the usual half paid as an employee. You can also deduct other position-related costs, such as music, office supplies, conferences, etc. This can work in your favor, but you have to actively plan for it and keep written records and invoices for everything.

          If you decide to take this position, make sure you have a written contract (agreement, position agreement, call it what you want) that describes pay, when it is paid, vacation weeks, and a description of ALL services for which you are responsible. You also should have right of first refusal for weddings and funerals.

          For comparison, in the Washington/Baltimore area, a substitute organist at a liturgical church (Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran) can expect $150 - $200 for a single Sunday morning service and $250 for two services. There are no planning responsibilities, weeknight rehearsals, or additional services in these numbers.

          I do not consider how many hymns, pieces of liturgical music, choir pieces, etc. played during the service in the price I would consider. If I am there for a service, I would be happy to play hymns or other music during the entire service.


          • #6
            I played for a local UCC for two years- approx. 20 minutes from my home. They paid me 225.00 per week which included a Monday night choir rehearsal and the Sunday AM service. That was back in 2010-2012. Hope this helps give you some idea of what you might expect them to give you.

            Hammond L143 with Leslie 760