Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The largest average parish salary goes to musicians but is it enough?

From here: "The Pastoral Life study was based on information from 928 U.S. parishes and individual responses from 732 lay ministers and 336 pastors. It was commissioned by the Committee on the Laity of the U.S. bishops' conference, funded by the Lilly Foundation, and directed by David DeLambo, associate director of pastoral planning for the Cleveland diocese. This is the third national study of lay ministry that DeLambo, a sociologist, has overseen."

The study reports that: "The largest average salary, $42,778 for music ministers, represents a 145 percent increase over the 1990 figure."

Now, many directors of music are right now thinking: I only wish it were that high! In a case, this is an average but ask yourself whether a serious organist or serious choirmaster who has been training for a decade or two, reads modern notes and neumes, can improvise on chant, and can inspire volunteers on an unrelenting basis, in addition to directing several rehearsals on weekday evenings, and giving up the entire weekend every weekend--I know musicians in parishes who work 60 plus hours per week in a job as stressful as as brain surgeon but with none of the social status--is going to be attracted to Catholic music by this figure.

And consider too that music is absolutely essential to liturgical life, and that the Church has said that music is the greatest artistic treasure of the Church.

I would suggest that we have a serious disjuncture here that reflects a longstanding problem: music is not valued as highly as it ought to be in Catholic parishes. My own sense is that this figure is about half of where it ought to be. I'm sorry to bring up this mundane subject but this problem must be addressed.

I'll say again what I've said many times: stop spending so much money on music and start spending money on musicians.