Southwest New Jersey

Last updated: July 17, 2015 at 15:19 pm

Message from the Dean 

April, 2015

Dear Colleagues,

During my first year serving as Dean of our Chapter, I set myself the task of attending one recital or concert per month by someone in the SouthWest Jersey Chapter. I would then write about the event in the Sforzando. This year I haven’t done articles on a regular basis. However, on Sunday, March 8, I was privileged to attend the recital by former Dean Larry DePasquale, given at the First Presbyterian Church in Pitman, as a Birthday Celebration for the 2008 Wicks Organ, Op. 6435. It was just what the doctor ordered for someone feeling wearied by the long and cold winter!

The recital was enjoyable on so many levels; first of all, the audience was filled with chapter members, First Presbyterian members, Gloucester County Chorus members, and many friendly faces anticipating the concert. It was also a chance to hear all the tonal possibilities of the instrument. For me, the best part was Larry and the music he presented! It was a wonderful amalgam of traditional recital pieces (J.S. Bach’s Toccata in D Minor, BWV 538) and music from contemporary composers (Paul O. Manz’s Partita on “St. Anne,” Op. 6). The recital opened and closed with a hymn tune. The final hymn was “Earth and All Stars,” with extemporaneous accompaniment sounds by the congregation. It was fittingly dedicated to Mr. Spock (Leonard
Nimoy) who had gone to his final rest shortly before the day of the recital.

I would like to express a word of thanks to Sforzando editor and Executive Board member Marilyn Rabbai for arranging this celebration at
her church; to Larry DePasquale for displaying the wonderful colors of the organ in so many different styles, and finally to chapter member Chuck
Gibson, the man responsible for installing and maintaining this inspirational instrument!


Charlene T. Cranmer – Dean


Executive Committee meeting: Monday, June 15 at 7:30PM at Haddonfield Presbyterian Church

Annual Meeting and Picnic: Sunday, July 12 at 3PM – see chapter newsletter for details

Watch this space! We are in the process of creating programs for our 2015-2016 season.

CHAPTER SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE We have Chapter Scholarships available for persons interested in learning to play the organ. The Scholarship provides 14 free lessons for any pianist who is at an Intermediate level of pianistic ability. Members who teach piano may have a student who would be interested. For information contact Chair of Scholarship Committee Vernon Williams (856-235-0811;


Local Events

Sunday, May 3, 3pm – Baltimore James David Christie Recital at Brown Memorial Church, Baltimore CANCELED due to unrest in the City. Look for new date in 2016.

CHAPTER EMERGENCY FUNDOur Chapter has begun the sponsorship of a fund to provide short-term emergency aid to Chapter members who find themselves temporarily in need of assistance. No dues money will be used for this aid, but tax-deductible contributions will be welcome at any time, and the free-will offering from this year’s Members’ Recital has been dedicated to this fund. A committee of three, consisting of the Dean, the Chair of Professional Concerns, and another member of that committee, will award aid as the need arises. Any Chapter member may recommend a member in good standing who, for reasons such as illness or unemployment, deserves our help, by contacting the Dean or the Chair of Professional Concerns. All cases of course will be confidential. If you would like to contribute to this cause, please send your tax-deductible donation (made out to SWJersey Chapter AGO) to our Treasurer Gail Gassaway, marked for “Musicians’ Emergency Fund.”

CHAPTER PUBLICATIONS AVAILABLE– Our Professional Concerns Committee has published the first edition of the brochure SO YOU’RE THINKING OF HIRING A CHURCH MUSICIAN… Topics included are, Where to begin your search, the AGO Code of Ethics as applicable to hiring procedures, Formula for Determining Workload, as well as a Worksheet for Determining Workload, Job Description Form, Guidelines for the Interview and Audition, sample Working Agreements, and a copy of our latest edition of Guidelines for the Compensation of Church Musicians. These brochures will be sent by our Placement Director to all institutions listing positions in our publications and website; you may also request a copy from the Professional Concerns Committee Chairperson. Also available from the Professional Concerns Committee – “Guidelines for Compensation” (see below); Sample “Working Agreement for Church Musicians;” and “Copyright Law Simplified” (revised Sept. 2005).


Based on a response of 32% of the membership, the following recommendations represent reasonable expectations for compensation in our geographical area. (Topics of further interest, such as other forms of compensation, budgets, benefits, etc. will be posted in the coming weeks.) A printed version of the Guidelines is also available – please request your copy from The Professional Concerns Committee (see Contact Us below). The guidelines below are based on ONE SERVICE 52 weeks per year. For each additional Sunday service ADD 30% to the salary base. For weekday or Saturday services, and services of a different format, add $150 or more per service.

  • Organist only, no choir: (6 to 8 hours per week) With Private study – $7,200-7,800 With a Service Playing Certificate – $7,920-8,580 With Bachelor in Music or CAGO – $8,360-9,625 With Master in Music or AAGO, ChM – $9,350-11,140 With Doctorate in Music or FAGO – $10,230-12,650
  • Organist OR Director, 1 choir: (7 to 15 hours per week) With private study – $8,750-11,100 With SPC – $9,625-11,210 Bachelor in Music or CAGO – $10,395-12,760 Master in Music or AAGO, ChM – $12,210-14,410 Doctorate in Music or FAGO – $15,950-19,060
  • Organist OR Director, 2 choirs; OR Organist/Director, 1 choir: (14 to 22 hours per week) With private study – $10,400-14,500 With SPC – $11,440-15,950 Bachelor in Music or CAGO – $12,210-20,020 Master in Music or AAGO, ChM – $13,200-21,560 Doctorate in Music or FAGO – $16,940-24,225
  • Organist OR Director, 3 choirs; OR Organist/Director, 2 choirs: (18 to 28 hours per week) $21,010-48,950 depending on nature of position and qualifications of musician.
  • Organist OR Director, 4 or more choirs; OR Organist/Director, 3 or more choirs: ( 40+ hours per week) $37,180-89,100; positions of this nature are full time and demand salary plus benefits, depending on the scope of the position and qualifications of the musician.

Pay for Substitutes: For a basic service consisting of one Sunday service and no choir rehearsal, the recommended fee is $150 per week. Additional contiguous services should command an additional $100 per service. Additional weekday or Saturday services should command an additional $150 per week. Non-contiguous rehearsals should command $75 per rehearsal. Long-term substitutes should be paid in accordance with the Guidelines above. When travel is a consideration, paying mileage is appropriate.

Pay for Weddings: The resident organist shall play for all weddings, memorial services and funerals in the employing institution. If the resident is unavailable, a substitute may be employed. If the resident organist is available but an outside organist is requested by the family, the church organist is entitled to the regular fee. Wedding service fee – $150 to $250, not including any rehearsals. Each rehearsal (whether with wedding party, soloist or instrumentalist) – $75 additional. A deposit of $50 paid in advance to reserve the wedding date is recommended. Funeral and memorial service fee: $150, or higher if local custom dictates.


Salary and Training by David Rhody, Member of the Professional Concerns Committee The survey elicited 35 responses, or 32% of our membership. The SWJAGO membership continues to include highly educated musicians with 71% possessing degrees in music. These degrees include SPC, CAGO, AAGO, ChM, FAGO, B.A., B.Mus., and M.Mus. According to the 2011-12 Membership Directory, professional certification numbers are the following: SPC-11, CAGO-5 (including 4 who list both CAGO and SPC), AAGO-3, FAGO-1. The 2012 survey shows a wide disparity of salaries, which range from zero to $83,000 per year. Approximately 10% choose to volunteer as organists and receive no compensation for their service. The trend appears to be that salaries are very gradually rising, although they are much below the compensation levels of other professions. Positions with the highest salaries are held by members with degrees in music. The results are as follows (gaps in the figures occur where no one reported a salary: Category…Salary…..Percent of answers A. 6-8 hours per week… $3,900-7,000……..17% B. 7-15 hours per week.. $10,555-30,000……11% C. 14-22 hours per week..$19,480-28,000……26% D. 18-28 hours per week..$21,000-40,641……14% E. 40+ hours per week….$26,520-83,000……14%

Benefits by David Rhody, Chair of Professional Concerns Committee Based on responses to our survey, four-fifths of our members (80%) now receive one or more fringe benefits in addition to salary as part of their compensation, the most common being paid vacation (80% of respondents)ranging from 2 to 6 1/2 weeks, the most common being 4 weeks; and compensation for continuing education (26%). Another 11% have professional dues paid by their employer, and almost a quarter also receive paid major medical insurance, dental plan and pension (23%). Most of those respondents with benefits are in salary categories B, C or D as listed above. Members should remember when negotiating with their employers that benefits are often an attractive alternative to a pay increase in the eyes of the employing institutions, since they may involve tax consequences favorable to the employer. Our Professional Concerns Committee offers a sample “Agreement between Musicians and Religious Institutions” which you are welcome to request from David Rhody, Chair (856-795-6735;

Weddings and Funerals; Demographics by Joyce Ann Routon, Member of Professional Concerns Committee

Wedding Fees- These fees have remained about the same as on our last survey four years ago, varying from $110 to $250, with the majority still receiving $150-200. $250 – 3 people $200 – 9 $175 – 3 $150 – 12 $100 – 21

Funeral Fees- These fees also remain about the same. Fifteen people receive $150 or more, while two donate their services. $200 – 1 person $175 – 1 $150 – 13 $125 – 5 $100 – 6 Services donated – 2

Rehearsals- Most of you who are paid for extra rehearsals still receive $50. $100 – 1 person $50 – 5 $40 – 1 $25 – 2

Substitute Fees- The lowest fees reported are at least $35 higher than four years ago, but the fees still vary widely, with most asking $150. $300 – 1 person $200 – 2 $175 – 2 $150 – 8 $130 – 1 $125 – 4 $100 – 4 $80 – 1

Extra Services- Only three reported being paid for extra services, the rest reporting that extra services are considered included in their annual salaries. $200 – 1 person $133 – 1 $50 – 1

Pay Increases- The majority either receive pay increases annually or not at any time recently.
Annually – 12 people
Every 2 years – 3
Every 5 years – 1
Varies with the Economy – 2
Not recently – 9

Job Description Changes- Most have remained the same; but of the ones who have changed, their duties have been expanded. One church has reduced the number of services from 2 to 1. Another person still plays the same number of services, but at two different churches that have merged.

Duties Expanded – 6
Duties Reduced – 1
Signed Contract or Working Agreement- The great majority have no contract or working agreement.
Contract – 8
Job Description – 7
Verbal Agreement – 1

Denominations- The survey showed six denominations responding, with the majority being Presbyterian or Episcopalian.
Presbyterian – 9
Episcopal – 8
Lutheran – 5
Catholic – 4
Methodist – 4
Baptist – 1

Size and Attendance of Churches- There is a huge variation in the sizes of the churches where you are employed. The churches range from 70 members to 3500, while the attendance shows 25 to 600. The average percentage of attendance ranges from about 13% to 95%, with most falling in the 30% to 50% range.

Type of Community Served- Most of you work in a suburban community.
Urban – 4 people
Suburban – 21
Semi-Rural – 1
Rural – 3

When asked about employment issues that could be addressed at a Chapter meeting which would benefit you, only two replied. One requested seasonal anthem-reading sessions. The other was a plea for a way to explain to clergy, lay people and non-musicians how much work is involved in preparation for services and rehearsals.



JOIN OUR CHAPTER TODAY — Regular Membership categories: Regular Voting Member – $92 Over 65, Under 21, Disabled – $67 Full-time Student – $37 Partner Voting Member (second member at same address) – $67 Dual Voting Member (Regular member of another chapter) – $36 Student Dual Member – $15 Chapter Friend (non-voting) – $36 Please contact our Registrar for further information (see Contact Us below)



POSITIONS AVAILABLE Reminder – although a position no longer appears, that does not necessarily mean it has been filled. You may reach Placement Director Peter Homon at 856-665-0149.

SUBSTITUTE LIST This list is published as a courtesy to chapter members. The AGO assumes no responsibility for the musicianship or reliability of substitutes. Substitutes who have passed AGO certification exams are so noted. If there is an error in your listing, please notify us so we can correct it. You may reach the Chapter Hotline at 856-665-0149.

Note–This is the official Substitute List of SouthWest Jersey Chapter, American Guild of Organists. It is administered by Peter Homon.

These musicians are available on Sundays and also for weddings and funerals other days:

Miriam Bisbing 856-627-9434 (Sicklerville) April through November only
John Dow 856-327-1739 (Millville)
Mary Johnson 856-332-8869 (Pine Hill)
Dr. Ted Kiefer 856-694-3693 (South Jersey area) Sunday services 8:00 or
Carol McDaniel 856-428-0911 (Haddonfield) substitute organist and director
Nancy McLoud 856-667-6127 (Maple Shade)
George Mitchell 856-795-0970 (Cherry Hill)
Irina Nenartovich, CAGO, SPC 856-321-3465 (Cherry Hill)
CathyO’Neill 856-589-0192 (Sewell and vicinity)
Joanne Owen 856-769-3212 (Woodstown)
Kathleen White 609-267-3349 (Hainesport)

These substitutes are available for weddings and funerals or Saturday work only:

Evelyn Larter, CAGO 856-358-1112 (Elmer)
Lee F. Milhous 215-348-8872 (Burlington)

Employers and job seekers are invited to post and search listings of available positions on the Guild’s National Website.



Would you like to prepare for or take one of the exams for AGO certification? Contact Ruth Fink, education coordinator: (856)829-6604.

These members currently hold AGO certification, as listed in our Membership Directory:

Rae Ann Anderson, CAGO
Miriam Bisbing, SPC
Alice Brown, SPC
Helen C. Carrell, CAGO
Mark A. Cole, SPC
Charlene Cranmer, CAGO, SPC
Lawrence DePasquale, CAGO
Ruth O. Fink, AAGO, ChM
Ethel H. Geist, CAGO
Evelyn Larter, CAGO, SPC
Sister Emily McMullen, SPC
Irina Nenartovich, CAGO, SPC
Marilyn Rabbai, SPC
David L. Rhody, SPC
Glenn L. Rodgers, AAGO
Joyce Ann Routon, CAGO, SPC
Helen K. Taylor, AAGO
Dr. Harry Wilkinson, FAGO (deceased)


Contact Us

DEAN: Charlene Cranmer, SPC 609-265-1601
SUB-DEAN and PROGRAM CHAIR: Rob Hobgood, 919-349-7458
TREASURER and REGISTRAR: Gail A. Gassaway 856-848-6787
SECRETARY: Catherine O’Neill, 856-589-0192,
CONCERT LISTINGS: fax (856)795-7166
PLACEMENT COORDINATOR: Peter Homon (856)665-0149
EDITOR AND PUBLISHER: Marilyn Rabbai 856-589-1050
WEBMASTER: David Rhody, SPC (856)
NOMINATIONS: Evelyn R. Larter, Chairperson
PROFESSIONAL CONCERNS: David Rhody, Chairperson
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE: Class of 2015 – William F. Clisham, Christopher Daly, Robert Parkhurst and David Rhody; Class of 2016 – Robert E. Gladden Jr, Sr. Emily McMullen, William Mitchell, Stephen F. Obarski; Class of 2017 – Helen Carrell CAGO, Larry DePasquale CAGO, Joseph Krupa and Marilyn Rabbai SPC



Some of the world’s largest and most interesting organs are located in our area – here are a few of them:

Information concerning the Midmer-Losh organ in Atlantic City Convention Hall, including the newly published booklet “The Story of the World’s Largest Pipe Organ,” can be found at
For information on the large Hope-Jones Organ in the Ocean Grove Auditorium,
For the Wanamaker Organ at the Lord and Taylor Store in Philadelphia, see
The US Naval Academy Chapel, where our member Erik Meyer has been Assistant Organist, can be found at
And the Princeton University Chapel Mander Organ is featured at
Publications of the ORGAN HISTORICAL SOCIETY are available at
Compositions by ROBERT FARRELL for organ or choir are available free from the composer at

Links to other musical institutions in the area:

Westminster Choir College
The Philadelphia
The Curtis
The Bach Choir of
The Estey Pipe Organ (A Virtual Museum) is a new website devoted to the organs manufactured by the Estey Company in Brattleboro, VT, and may be found In addition to a listing of all opus numbers, the site includes hundreds of photographs of organs and the people connected with them. An on-going project, the site is always looking for additional materials about Estey pipe organs, especially those instruments which are still in existence. The site’s owner, Philip Stimmel, may be contacted by email at or by phone at 802-254-8470.

AGO National website