pipe organ

The Decline of the Organ

The following material was presented in the doctoral colloquium at Southwestern Baptist Seminary on October 20, 2012. Do you think there’s hope for organs? I doubt it – they’re too expensive, few musicians can play it properly and, most importantly, the average person simply doesn’t like organ music.

What are some of the reasons for the decline in organ usage in many churches today?

I. Shortage of qualified organists

A. Limited access to the instrument; fewer and fewer organs available, since so many have been discarded.

B. Lack of exposure to the instrument; not many children are being exposed to the instrument, plus the fact that it is often difficult to obtain permission to practice on a suitable organ. Smaller and more portable instruments are desired.

C. Lack of teachers that are qualified and/or willing to teach the organ to students who have the prerequisite piano skills.

D. Students who study music are influenced by popular culture, media, etc., in which the organ is totally foreign; it’s not “cool” to learn the organ.

E. The amount of time and dedication it requires to master the organ.

F. The pedals are intimidating!

II. The instruments themselves

A. Initial purchase too expensive for many churches; expense cannot be justified in light of other financial pressures.

B. Even if there is an organ in working order, it might be of poor quality.

C. Neglected maintenance and expensive repairs.

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