Poll

Does your parish have either or both your choir director and head chanter as a paid position?

Yes for both
3 (13.6%)
Yes for one
7 (31.8%)
No
12 (54.5%)

Total Members Voted: 22

Author Topic: Is your choir director and/or protopsaltis a paid position at your church?  (Read 4021 times)

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Offline Agabus

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I try not to get annoyed, but it's sad that a 25+year old parish still handles a choir like its a 5 person mission.  Even better, when I hear the choir of a mission parish that sounds like they actually train and practice (unpaid and non-professionals, just people putting time in); it makes me glad for their parish, but sad for mine.

The parish I've spent the most time in was a small mission in Mississippi that somehow had two experienced volunteer choir directors (one stepped in after the other stepped down) and two members who had gone to summer training sessions at St. Vlads. Even though it was small, it was the kind of musical experience that would see people want to convert on aesthetic appeal alone. There are definitely moments I miss it.

Our current parish, which is decades old, struggles if the de facto leader (the aforementioned loud guy) doesn't show up. For years, they had an organ and a chanter, but in recent years the organ was phased out (thankfully -- the arrangement they used was awful) and the chanter has moved on to a mission he basically founded himself closer to home. But somewhere along the way those of us in the pews (!) decided that it's better to struggle than stand there in silence. We've talked about having some kind of choir rehearsal once a week, but it's been difficult to arrange because a lot of the people who would do it are commuters. We'll see.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2017, 10:19:18 AM by Agabus »
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Offline Iconodule

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When I last served on a parish council, the choir director received a fairly paltry yearly stipend. It was better than nothing, but I marvel at how much local heterodox churches pay their directors, organists, etc., often with shrinking congregations.
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Offline Agabus

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When I last served on a parish council, the choir director received a fairly paltry yearly stipend. It was better than nothing, but I marvel at how much local heterodox churches pay their directors, organists, etc., often with shrinking congregations.

The Baptists of my youth had a full-time "Minister of Music." It wasn't a huge church, either.
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Offline scamandrius

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Throwing money at the problem is only a short term solution I think. Prepare the next generation then.  Have the parents bring their kids to hymns learning.

Again, they are unwilling; the kids, too.

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Offline Justin Kolodziej

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We just hired a choir director not too long ago. I actually made the mistake of attending the general assembly before I was even chrismated when the issue was discussed, and also have the minutes from said general assembly where the salary was put at 22k but really should have been 40k if collections would have allowed that much.  The main reason for this, apparently, is that the Divine Liturgy is very complex and a choir director who can keep everything straight deserves that much money. Also, we need to be competitive with other congregations (Orthodox or otherwise) that do have professionals directing their choirs.

There was also already an item for the choir overall at around 7500, but I don't know if that included the organist (previously doubling as the choir director) and/or protopsaltis and/or other chanters.

It's a fairly large GOAA parish, I want to say 300 pledging families?


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Offline minasoliman

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It seems like this is a culture I'm very unfamiliar with.  I've attended a few EO liturgies and I didn't feel I got lost.  I felt I could get the hang of it quickly given the Coptic rite we use, which is way more complicated from my pov.  I was even chanting with the choir, to the point where some of the members told me to join, not knowing I'm OO.

So I am having a hard time understanding why parish members are unwilling at least to send their young ones to choir practice.  We begin teaching kids at a very early age, 5-6 years.  That's what is keeping them in liturgy.  Familiarity, and getting used to learning the hymns at a very very very young age.  Otherwise, no one will take the time to learn the Coptic hymns in our church, because they can be a little tough sometimes to learn, especially in their original language.
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Offline scamandrius

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So I am having a hard time understanding why parish members are unwilling at least to send their young ones to choir practice.  We begin teaching kids at a very early age, 5-6 years.  That's what is keeping them in liturgy.  Familiarity, and getting used to learning the hymns at a very very very young age.  Otherwise, no one will take the time to learn the Coptic hymns in our church, because they can be a little tough sometimes to learn, especially in their original language.

I'm not saying my parish is necessarily representative of EOs with regards to this subject.  One thing I have noticed over the past 12 years that I have been a member of this parish is that my fellow parishioners will get all excited about a new endeavor, whatever that may be (service, ministry, class, study, etc.) which will last for one or two events and then fade away.  For instance, my priest when he was first assigned to our parish was approached by one of the "old guards" who said that the people here didn't know the Orthodox faith and were eager for Fr. to teach.  So, Fr. prepared and taught a few classes with a great attendance, but after a few, no one came.  I've seen this myself with people wanting to learn Byzantine chant.  Now, I'm not in any position to teach the psaltic art though I do teachde facto because of my presence at the analogion. I would say we have had over ten people over the past few years say they really wanted to learn, but after a couple of sessions, they said they weren't interested anymore.  It's just what we've got.  BUt that doesn't mean we should surrender to mediocrity.  That's why I'm making a push for this.  Let me put it this way:  if our priest were not trained well and qualified, the parishioners would be up in arms.  Draw a parallel between that and a well trained, qualified choir director.  The two should synch up.
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Offline hecma925

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It seems like this is a culture I'm very unfamiliar with.  I've attended a few EO liturgies and I didn't feel I got lost.  I felt I could get the hang of it quickly given the Coptic rite we use, which is way more complicated from my pov.  I was even chanting with the choir, to the point where some of the members told me to join, not knowing I'm OO.

So I am having a hard time understanding why parish members are unwilling at least to send their young ones to choir practice.  We begin teaching kids at a very early age, 5-6 years.  That's what is keeping them in liturgy.  Familiarity, and getting used to learning the hymns at a very very very young age.  Otherwise, no one will take the time to learn the Coptic hymns in our church, because they can be a little tough sometimes to learn, especially in their original language.

Yup.

Another article:

https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/musicstand/good-church-music-starts-with-kids/
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Offline Dominika

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So I am having a hard time understanding why parish members are unwilling at least to send their young ones to choir practice.  We begin teaching kids at a very early age, 5-6 years.  That's what is keeping them in liturgy.  Familiarity, and getting used to learning the hymns at a very very very young age.  Otherwise, no one will take the time to learn the Coptic hymns in our church, because they can be a little tough sometimes to learn, especially in their original language.
+1 I love the Coptic approach to the hymns. Well, mabye sometimes it's... Too much oncentration on the way of chanting instead of the words (maybe I'm wrong in my observations). But, due to this approach, the hymns and their ancient melodies survived well despite difficult circumstances in Egypt and then in diaspora. It's also the way for chidlren to accustomed to the chants, that are totally different music from the one they're going to listen "in the world".
There is a children choir at my parish that sings during the first Liturgy (that's dedicated to school children and youth and their parents, since they have religion classes after it) and it's a good way of their involvemnet and get know at least a bit Church Slavonic language. But, unfortunately, not all choidlren want/no all parents want their children to join the choir. So, maybe 1/4 of the parish children sing.

And singing/chanting it's a really good way to focus children on the service. It also applies to adults. E.g yesteday evening I was more focused on the Akathist when I was singing at least its refrains, than usually For me it's too long and too much schematical, so, sometimes, just boring. But it's a totally different percpetion when the whcol congregation, e.g on pilgrimages or at the Holy Mount Grabarka, sing the all chanting parts of an Akathist.
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Offline LBK

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So I am having a hard time understanding why parish members are unwilling at least to send their young ones to choir practice.  We begin teaching kids at a very early age, 5-6 years.  That's what is keeping them in liturgy.  Familiarity, and getting used to learning the hymns at a very very very young age.  Otherwise, no one will take the time to learn the Coptic hymns in our church, because they can be a little tough sometimes to learn, especially in their original language.

I'm not saying my parish is necessarily representative of EOs with regards to this subject.  One thing I have noticed over the past 12 years that I have been a member of this parish is that my fellow parishioners will get all excited about a new endeavor, whatever that may be (service, ministry, class, study, etc.) which will last for one or two events and then fade away.  For instance, my priest when he was first assigned to our parish was approached by one of the "old guards" who said that the people here didn't know the Orthodox faith and were eager for Fr. to teach.  So, Fr. prepared and taught a few classes with a great attendance, but after a few, no one came.  I've seen this myself with people wanting to learn Byzantine chant.  Now, I'm not in any position to teach the psaltic art though I do teachde facto because of my presence at the analogion. I would say we have had over ten people over the past few years say they really wanted to learn, but after a couple of sessions, they said they weren't interested anymore.  It's just what we've got.  BUt that doesn't mean we should surrender to mediocrity.  That's why I'm making a push for this.  Let me put it this way:  if our priest were not trained well and qualified, the parishioners would be up in arms.  Draw a parallel between that and a well trained, qualified choir director.  The two should synch up.

Paying the choirmaster or the protopsaltis will not shake people out of their apathy.
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Offline minasoliman

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So I am having a hard time understanding why parish members are unwilling at least to send their young ones to choir practice.  We begin teaching kids at a very early age, 5-6 years.  That's what is keeping them in liturgy.  Familiarity, and getting used to learning the hymns at a very very very young age.  Otherwise, no one will take the time to learn the Coptic hymns in our church, because they can be a little tough sometimes to learn, especially in their original language.

I'm not saying my parish is necessarily representative of EOs with regards to this subject.  One thing I have noticed over the past 12 years that I have been a member of this parish is that my fellow parishioners will get all excited about a new endeavor, whatever that may be (service, ministry, class, study, etc.) which will last for one or two events and then fade away.  For instance, my priest when he was first assigned to our parish was approached by one of the "old guards" who said that the people here didn't know the Orthodox faith and were eager for Fr. to teach.  So, Fr. prepared and taught a few classes with a great attendance, but after a few, no one came.  I've seen this myself with people wanting to learn Byzantine chant.  Now, I'm not in any position to teach the psaltic art though I do teachde facto because of my presence at the analogion. I would say we have had over ten people over the past few years say they really wanted to learn, but after a couple of sessions, they said they weren't interested anymore.  It's just what we've got.  BUt that doesn't mean we should surrender to mediocrity.  That's why I'm making a push for this.  Let me put it this way:  if our priest were not trained well and qualified, the parishioners would be up in arms.  Draw a parallel between that and a well trained, qualified choir director.  The two should synch up.

So let me ask this: will the parishioners be directly paying for the choir leader?
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Offline scamandrius

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So I am having a hard time understanding why parish members are unwilling at least to send their young ones to choir practice.  We begin teaching kids at a very early age, 5-6 years.  That's what is keeping them in liturgy.  Familiarity, and getting used to learning the hymns at a very very very young age.  Otherwise, no one will take the time to learn the Coptic hymns in our church, because they can be a little tough sometimes to learn, especially in their original language.

I'm not saying my parish is necessarily representative of EOs with regards to this subject.  One thing I have noticed over the past 12 years that I have been a member of this parish is that my fellow parishioners will get all excited about a new endeavor, whatever that may be (service, ministry, class, study, etc.) which will last for one or two events and then fade away.  For instance, my priest when he was first assigned to our parish was approached by one of the "old guards" who said that the people here didn't know the Orthodox faith and were eager for Fr. to teach.  So, Fr. prepared and taught a few classes with a great attendance, but after a few, no one came.  I've seen this myself with people wanting to learn Byzantine chant.  Now, I'm not in any position to teach the psaltic art though I do teachde facto because of my presence at the analogion. I would say we have had over ten people over the past few years say they really wanted to learn, but after a couple of sessions, they said they weren't interested anymore.  It's just what we've got.  BUt that doesn't mean we should surrender to mediocrity.  That's why I'm making a push for this.  Let me put it this way:  if our priest were not trained well and qualified, the parishioners would be up in arms.  Draw a parallel between that and a well trained, qualified choir director.  The two should synch up.

So let me ask this: will the parishioners be directly paying for the choir leader?

I want it to be a budget item which is funded strictly from our tithes, so yes.
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Offline scamandrius

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So I am having a hard time understanding why parish members are unwilling at least to send their young ones to choir practice.  We begin teaching kids at a very early age, 5-6 years.  That's what is keeping them in liturgy.  Familiarity, and getting used to learning the hymns at a very very very young age.  Otherwise, no one will take the time to learn the Coptic hymns in our church, because they can be a little tough sometimes to learn, especially in their original language.

I'm not saying my parish is necessarily representative of EOs with regards to this subject.  One thing I have noticed over the past 12 years that I have been a member of this parish is that my fellow parishioners will get all excited about a new endeavor, whatever that may be (service, ministry, class, study, etc.) which will last for one or two events and then fade away.  For instance, my priest when he was first assigned to our parish was approached by one of the "old guards" who said that the people here didn't know the Orthodox faith and were eager for Fr. to teach.  So, Fr. prepared and taught a few classes with a great attendance, but after a few, no one came.  I've seen this myself with people wanting to learn Byzantine chant.  Now, I'm not in any position to teach the psaltic art though I do teachde facto because of my presence at the analogion. I would say we have had over ten people over the past few years say they really wanted to learn, but after a couple of sessions, they said they weren't interested anymore.  It's just what we've got.  BUt that doesn't mean we should surrender to mediocrity.  That's why I'm making a push for this.  Let me put it this way:  if our priest were not trained well and qualified, the parishioners would be up in arms.  Draw a parallel between that and a well trained, qualified choir director.  The two should synch up.

Paying the choirmaster or the protopsaltis will not shake people out of their apathy.

If there is a monetary value associated with it, then I think people will start to demand returns on the investment. 
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Offline DeniseDenise

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So I am having a hard time understanding why parish members are unwilling at least to send their young ones to choir practice.  We begin teaching kids at a very early age, 5-6 years.  That's what is keeping them in liturgy.  Familiarity, and getting used to learning the hymns at a very very very young age.  Otherwise, no one will take the time to learn the Coptic hymns in our church, because they can be a little tough sometimes to learn, especially in their original language.

I'm not saying my parish is necessarily representative of EOs with regards to this subject.  One thing I have noticed over the past 12 years that I have been a member of this parish is that my fellow parishioners will get all excited about a new endeavor, whatever that may be (service, ministry, class, study, etc.) which will last for one or two events and then fade away.  For instance, my priest when he was first assigned to our parish was approached by one of the "old guards" who said that the people here didn't know the Orthodox faith and were eager for Fr. to teach.  So, Fr. prepared and taught a few classes with a great attendance, but after a few, no one came.  I've seen this myself with people wanting to learn Byzantine chant.  Now, I'm not in any position to teach the psaltic art though I do teachde facto because of my presence at the analogion. I would say we have had over ten people over the past few years say they really wanted to learn, but after a couple of sessions, they said they weren't interested anymore.  It's just what we've got.  BUt that doesn't mean we should surrender to mediocrity.  That's why I'm making a push for this.  Let me put it this way:  if our priest were not trained well and qualified, the parishioners would be up in arms.  Draw a parallel between that and a well trained, qualified choir director.  The two should synch up.

Paying the choirmaster or the protopsaltis will not shake people out of their apathy.

If there is a monetary value associated with it, then I think people will start to demand returns on the investment.


Unless you are going to pay enough for that person to harangue parishioners into rehearsing.....

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Offline scamandrius

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^You really don't get it, do you?  And that's OK.  Perhaps you should stop acting as if you know what's going on at my parish.
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Offline DeniseDenise

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^You really don't get it, do you?  And that's OK.  Perhaps you should stop acting as if you know what's going on at my parish.

You are the one that keeps saying that parishioners don't want to rehearse...etc.


You can pay someone to call rehearsals and stand there.....in an empty room teaching no one....because sorry....the fact they are out some sum of money will not suddenly enthuse them.

and that's IF anyone even votes to approve paying someone.


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Offline minasoliman

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So I am having a hard time understanding why parish members are unwilling at least to send their young ones to choir practice.  We begin teaching kids at a very early age, 5-6 years.  That's what is keeping them in liturgy.  Familiarity, and getting used to learning the hymns at a very very very young age.  Otherwise, no one will take the time to learn the Coptic hymns in our church, because they can be a little tough sometimes to learn, especially in their original language.

I'm not saying my parish is necessarily representative of EOs with regards to this subject.  One thing I have noticed over the past 12 years that I have been a member of this parish is that my fellow parishioners will get all excited about a new endeavor, whatever that may be (service, ministry, class, study, etc.) which will last for one or two events and then fade away.  For instance, my priest when he was first assigned to our parish was approached by one of the "old guards" who said that the people here didn't know the Orthodox faith and were eager for Fr. to teach.  So, Fr. prepared and taught a few classes with a great attendance, but after a few, no one came.  I've seen this myself with people wanting to learn Byzantine chant.  Now, I'm not in any position to teach the psaltic art though I do teachde facto because of my presence at the analogion. I would say we have had over ten people over the past few years say they really wanted to learn, but after a couple of sessions, they said they weren't interested anymore.  It's just what we've got.  BUt that doesn't mean we should surrender to mediocrity.  That's why I'm making a push for this.  Let me put it this way:  if our priest were not trained well and qualified, the parishioners would be up in arms.  Draw a parallel between that and a well trained, qualified choir director.  The two should synch up.

Paying the choirmaster or the protopsaltis will not shake people out of their apathy.

If there is a monetary value associated with it, then I think people will start to demand returns on the investment.

Ok, I can see why you might think this could work.  I hope it does, at least as an initial investment before going back to a volunteer basis.
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Offline scamandrius

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So I am having a hard time understanding why parish members are unwilling at least to send their young ones to choir practice.  We begin teaching kids at a very early age, 5-6 years.  That's what is keeping them in liturgy.  Familiarity, and getting used to learning the hymns at a very very very young age.  Otherwise, no one will take the time to learn the Coptic hymns in our church, because they can be a little tough sometimes to learn, especially in their original language.

I'm not saying my parish is necessarily representative of EOs with regards to this subject.  One thing I have noticed over the past 12 years that I have been a member of this parish is that my fellow parishioners will get all excited about a new endeavor, whatever that may be (service, ministry, class, study, etc.) which will last for one or two events and then fade away.  For instance, my priest when he was first assigned to our parish was approached by one of the "old guards" who said that the people here didn't know the Orthodox faith and were eager for Fr. to teach.  So, Fr. prepared and taught a few classes with a great attendance, but after a few, no one came.  I've seen this myself with people wanting to learn Byzantine chant.  Now, I'm not in any position to teach the psaltic art though I do teachde facto because of my presence at the analogion. I would say we have had over ten people over the past few years say they really wanted to learn, but after a couple of sessions, they said they weren't interested anymore.  It's just what we've got.  BUt that doesn't mean we should surrender to mediocrity.  That's why I'm making a push for this.  Let me put it this way:  if our priest were not trained well and qualified, the parishioners would be up in arms.  Draw a parallel between that and a well trained, qualified choir director.  The two should synch up.

Paying the choirmaster or the protopsaltis will not shake people out of their apathy.

If there is a monetary value associated with it, then I think people will start to demand returns on the investment.

Ok, I can see why you might think this could work.  I hope it does, at least as an initial investment before going back to a volunteer basis.

I do, too.  The other option is just to sit by and do nothing and see our musical heritage go by the wayside.  Plus, also remember that I'm not just pushing for our choir director to receive a stipend but also our protos.  In both areas, there is so much that we can and should be doing not only for the enrichment of music at our parish but ensuring that the music we treasure as Orthodox Christians can be passed on.  People have to see the value in it.  And, whether it's right or wrong, it seems that a monetary investment is the only way for some people to see that.
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Offline Porter ODoran

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So I am having a hard time understanding why parish members are unwilling at least to send their young ones to choir practice.  We begin teaching kids at a very early age, 5-6 years.  That's what is keeping them in liturgy.  Familiarity, and getting used to learning the hymns at a very very very young age.  Otherwise, no one will take the time to learn the Coptic hymns in our church, because they can be a little tough sometimes to learn, especially in their original language.

I'm not saying my parish is necessarily representative of EOs with regards to this subject.  One thing I have noticed over the past 12 years that I have been a member of this parish is that my fellow parishioners will get all excited about a new endeavor, whatever that may be (service, ministry, class, study, etc.) which will last for one or two events and then fade away.  For instance, my priest when he was first assigned to our parish was approached by one of the "old guards" who said that the people here didn't know the Orthodox faith and were eager for Fr. to teach.  So, Fr. prepared and taught a few classes with a great attendance, but after a few, no one came.  I've seen this myself with people wanting to learn Byzantine chant.  Now, I'm not in any position to teach the psaltic art though I do teachde facto because of my presence at the analogion. I would say we have had over ten people over the past few years say they really wanted to learn, but after a couple of sessions, they said they weren't interested anymore.  It's just what we've got.  BUt that doesn't mean we should surrender to mediocrity.  That's why I'm making a push for this.  Let me put it this way:  if our priest were not trained well and qualified, the parishioners would be up in arms.  Draw a parallel between that and a well trained, qualified choir director.  The two should synch up.

Paying the choirmaster or the protopsaltis will not shake people out of their apathy.

If there is a monetary value associated with it, then I think people will start to demand returns on the investment.

Ok, I can see why you might think this could work.  I hope it does, at least as an initial investment before going back to a volunteer basis.

I do, too.  The other option is just to sit by and do nothing and see our musical heritage go by the wayside.  Plus, also remember that I'm not just pushing for our choir director to receive a stipend but also our protos.  In both areas, there is so much that we can and should be doing not only for the enrichment of music at our parish but ensuring that the music we treasure as Orthodox Christians can be passed on.  People have to see the value in it.  And, whether it's right or wrong, it seems that a monetary investment is the only way for some people to see that.

You've certainly convinced yourself.
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Offline Bruin5

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My wife is the choir director at our parish (around 100 attendees/Sunday) and she is not paid.  She spends on average around 1.5 hours per week preparing for Liturgy.  This included amending all our music to use the new translation from the GOC.  Our choir averages about 8 people, and my wife and I are the only ones who can read music.  We only rehearse during Lent, and that happens on Sundays after Liturgy.

The complication in the Divine Liturgy are the variable Apolotykions and Kontakions, and since we don't practice, trying to sing them as a group acapella can be a hot mess.  A couple of years ago we decided that we would solo those hymns, so my wife and I split them up and sing them in English (our Presbytera sings them in Greek). 

The really nice thing is that the congregation sings along with us, and since my wife has been doing it so long, they know the pace, breaks, etc.   We are GOC, but have a multi ethnic parish and a number of converts, and they know the Greek and English versions of the regular hymns.

So, it's really about consistency of the music, and being a bit strategic as to how much you ask the choir to do as a whole.  It also helps if the Priest reminds the congregation that they are part of the "work of the people" so that they have a responsibility to participate as well.