professional concerns for the church music guy

I had a phone call from my boss recently informing me that the church governing body (the Vestry) had recently voted me a substantial raise to be implemented over 2012 & 2013. The purpose was to bring my wages closer into line with suggested professional standards.  The 2012 increase is to be implemented retroactive to Sept 1, 2011.

This is satisfying on several levels. My boss, Jen, wanted me to know that the Vestry was very appreciative of my work as well as adamant in beginning to establish professional standards for my position.

And I of course could definitely use the money.

Another level that both Pastor Jen and I share is establishing some professional standards in the Episcopal church in Western Michigan.

When I came to this area as a full-time Roman Catholic church musician, very few musicians were being paid fairly by their churches. I witnessed and was part of an attempt to raise awareness about professional standards. This did result (I believe) in the over all raising of wages for Roman Catholic professional church musicians especially in the Grand Rapids area.

Working in the Episcopal church I haven’t really had much contact with other Episcopal church musicians in the area. I believe that the way people are paid varies widely from poorly paid to donating their services. It would be nice to think that raising the standards in my parish would have some affect both on its own future practices and possibly other churches in the area.

Hey. It could happen.

In the meantime this is pretty satisfying.

Speaking of satisfying: I am suffering from a clogged inner (and possibly outer) ear which is making my head feel like a balloon on the end of string. My left ear is my best ear (there is some hearing loss in my right) and it, of course, is the one that is clogged.

This made my ballet class particularly miserable yesterday since the stuffed up ear is accompanied by the usual body cold aches and pains.

In the middle of the first hour, I did an improv that I thought was especially beautiful and coherent. One of the techniques that I use that produces this result is to improvise counterpoint (that, is more than one melody being played at the same time) but not in a stuffy academic way, rather using the language and ideas that seem beautiful and appropriate to me.

This is what I was doing yesterday.

After I finished, the teacher commented on the music. She then proceeded to tell the students how lucky they were to have live, beautiful music to help them dance with expression. Embarrassing but flattering.

For most of the time yesterday (and probably today as well) I was on survival. This means that I’m not trying to be clever with the improvs only clear, accurate and coherent.

This was good thing because my first hour ballet class teacher matter-of-factedly outlined some very unusual phrase groups in her combination instructions to the group (3 measure phrases in one case instead of the usual 4).


Rick Wilcox Magic Theater | Wisconsin Dells

I knew this man when he was younger. He was a dexterous and imaginative drummer. It looks like he has put those skills to use.


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