Jun. 18, 2016

Fraternal Organ Playing, Part VII

(con't from Part VI)

"We dance around in a ring and suppose,
But the secret sits in the middle and knows."
-- Robert Frost 2 line poem, The Secret Sits

The opposite of love isn't hatred.
It's indifference.
Some of our more forward looking presiding fraternal officers who love their fraternity enough not to be indifferent about it are calling to "renew the search for musicians."
While such officers are to be commended for their vision and understanding of the characteristics and needs of the group, it isn't sufficient to simply locate members who are able to play and are willing, though this can be challenging enough.
The answer to this problem is so simple it's difficult for many to see ...
Robert Frost would describe it poetically:
"They dance around in a ring and suppose,
But the solution sits right under their nose."
Those who play need to have a modicum of skills of the right combination, be able to handle new music, be able to perform when the heat is on, be well acquainted with the ritual, be willing to prepare, practice for weeks beforehand, transport their equipment, make whatever sacrifices that are necessary, and, at times, be willing to put their ego in their shoe for the sake of the organization.
It takes a rare bird to be able to occupy that particular perch; such birds don't grow on trees, but they do live there; they're not an extinct species within the membership -- not yet at least.
What can this picture (photo) teach us about multiplying our fraternal organists? ... as it turns out, volumes [See menu bar, Photos IV subpage, A Lesson From Nature].
Nature teaches us that we don't go out "loaded for bear" with our snares, nets, bird calls, and traps, searching every tree to locate that particular rare bird (unless you want to waste all your time and effort and come back empty handed); even if you're lucky and manage to spot such a bird on some branch a hundred feet in the air you still have the problem of capturing it, bringing it back, releasing it on your property, and holding it there.
And how are you going to do that? ...
No, this will lead to nothing but frustration and disappointment; instead, you first figure out what attracts them, what they need, and then what you can do to attract them to your locale and encourage them to stay there [See blog, Fraternal Organ Playing, Part IV].
We don't find THEM.
THEY find US.
Here is how you attract those rare birds you have in mind and expand their numbers [See menu bar, blog/archive subpage, A Lesson From Nature]:
1) Firstly, you figure out what attracts them; you maintain the local habitat with the kinds of trees, cover, perches, and nesting holes they find most attractive (which means keeping those wonderful, old, historic pipe organs maintained and fully playable); you spend whatever it takes to get this done, raising the money for it, if you have to -- there are proven, effective ways for doing this [See blog, Rebuilding, Part II].
This expands ACCESS ... access to the instrument; if the King of Instruments has been physically locked up at our worship centers and put off limits by the clergy due to the exclusive use of praise bands, it's also necessary to see that this King is unlocked and "freed from his dungeon of exile" so the people have access to him [See blog, Locked Out].
Access to an instrument, any instrument, opens the gate for the musicians to come forward who play it.
2) Secondly, you give these rare birds a reward of some kind, something that satisfies a need of theirs and encourages them to stay ... you offer them RECOGNITION for their hard work, talent, and ability to serve the ritual, just like giving a parrot a reward like an unshelled peanut or slice of apple, but they have to do something for it ... they have to exercise some effort or ingenuity of their own to earn it.
There are ways to standardize the music used at various places in the ritualistic and ceremonial work, such that this might be incorporated into, and made a part of, the proficiency requirements for ritualistic certification, a means of recognition which in turn could energize and encourage more members from the sidelines to get over their fears and come forward to serve as the group's musician.
It makes perfect sense to give credit where musical credit it due and acknowledging that a member is proficient, in this case, at supplying the appropriate musical accompaniment.
What is considered "appropriate" can be determined from a pre-selected list of suggestions marked at various places in the ritual book, or additional suggestions could be solicited and used to satisfy the requirement of being officially "proficient" at it.
How this would be decided would be up to each jurisdiction, but the important part is to provide some means of recognition for these individuals.
Recognition makes every person feel good about themselves and encourages them to want to work harder and better.
3) Thirdly, you provide everything else they need to grow and thrive as a special species, viz., the right kind of food, plenty of water, and other birds of a feather with whom they can flock together, observe, and learn from (which means giving them the right kind of COACHING, guidance, information, materials, and tips they need to succeed, with nothing considered off limits including, and especially, this blog).
You've got to give someone what they need to succeed at their job, and the piccolo player is no different.
4) And fourthly, you let people know that this "conservation effort" needs to be made a priority across political and geographic lines with the idea that the preferred HABITAT will be widened and expanded through a team effort so that other attractive oases for these birds will be developed in other places (which means recognizing that it's a front burner issue, making it a priority across state and provincial jurisdictions, and using every resource, including regular publications, to reach the membership with it).
This process of how to attract them also needs to be discussed at the annual regional conferences to get people fully informed about what they have to do, since it means so much to us, and that by simply calling for "renewing the search" we're signing on for a wild goose chase, a waste of time, and truthfully, to be going about it all wrong.
Those who are entrusted with the organizing of a program for these regional conferences also need to realize that, if this issue isn't important enough to make it into the program of a conference, then the issue can't be that important.
But it is.
The importance of working across jurisdictional lines and getting everyone aboard this train creates a bigger team working together to solve the problem, and that's not all bad.
Access, Recognition, Coaching, Habitat ... the first letters of these words spells "ARCH" and is a reminder to the Royal Arch Mason of what the team has to do, to turn things around.
Following this plan, the same plan as nature itself uses to multiply a species, is how the dwindling population of fraternal organists will be counteracted finally and ultimately reversed, by going to nature itself and taking a page from it.
In a nutshell, for those who love their institution/organization enough to care that they have a musician, how to attract and hold these rare birds can be boiled down to this:
Step No. 1: Realize that we don't find them, they find us.
Step No. 2: Follow the plan that nature says will work.
Step No. 3: Stop being indifferent to Steps Nos. 1 and 2, get people informed, make the effort to talk about it, make it a front burner issue, and then take the initiative to actually DO something about it.
It's as simple as that.
(con't in Part VIII)