just the piano player

IMPORTANT: Please read the comment section for a continuation and clarification of the story.

The short version: the choir director at the church I play for in Monticello is resigning.

The still short but much more intriguing version: After a few years of suspicion and shady goings-on, several members of the church, including some deacons, hired a Private Investigator to check out the pastor. Among other things, they found insurance fraud, falsifying a disability claim, and lying on an application. The choir director says he did not get involved in it, because the preacher and his supporters were already using him as a target and a scapegoat, and it would be suicide to add his name to the list. The committee presented the preacher with the evidence and gave him a week to resign. His supporters went up in arms about how he was mistreated and maligned, and he refused to resign. The committee backed down, the preacher is still there, several people from the committee got fired, including the Chair of Deacons. The choir director’s name got dragged into it anyway and several people left the choir. He has since been maligned, to his face, behind his back, verbally and in print. He is over it, and his resignation was read aloud tonight at a business meeting. His final Sunday is this Sunday, leaving them without a choir director.

Though the resignation was a shock to everyone, I knew as of a few weeks ago. I was prepared to lead the choir in the interim, or even for the rest of my stay in Tallahassee, so long as they paid me for it. I have lead the choir before and they made no complaints about my directing.

I have no official position on the whole matter, as I am not a member of the church, and I like this job’s pay and have no desire to jeopardize it so long as I am left out of the whole mess and it does not affect me. Also, I was not put here to judge men – that is God’s problem.

The choir director’s daughter, Kristin, texted me tonight with news.

The players are: The choir director; Joe, the creepy redhead who fancies himself a tenor but can’t count, match pitch, or read quickly enough to keep up with the music; Sarah, a musically-inclined though (I think) untrained soprano in the choir who is often away on business; Edna, a former choir member who has always hated the director; Lynn, wife of a choir member; Sam, a former choir member.

Kristin (21:12): So dads resignation was read tonight…..church decided that sarah and joe will help lead the choir until someone can be found. Fyi sarah’s gonna be gone
Kristin (21:13): for most of september and october…..so that leaves joe…… :( bad news. Uuuuugh i know!!!!!
Me (21:14): Fantastic. Probably means I will be doing most of it
Kristin (21:16): No youre name came up and they didnt like that idea….. freaking idiots
Me (21:17): Really? That’s interesting. Who objected? The choir or the congregation?
Kristin (21:18) not sure…but apparently u arent being considered cuz u are “just the piano player.”
Me (21:19) Oh well. Good to know that joe has more musical expertise than I do.
Kristin (21:21): Hey they’re gonna get what they pay for…..and im pretty sure joe’s getting a whole lotta nada!!
Me (21:22) I mean that is true, I would insist on a raise if I had to do it, but that’s not the point.
Kristin (21:25): i know……but hey maybe they’ll find someone super quick. Edna, lynn [redacted], joe, and sam are on the search committee……
Me (21:26): I mean I don’t really care one way or the other. They could hire a trained monkey. But I have a few more qualifications than being “just the piano player.”
Kristin (21:28) We heartily agree lady.

(In place of my original closing comments, and in light of more information from someone who was actually there, please check out the comments.)

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4 Comments

Filed under adventures in accompanying, story time, this actually happened

4 responses to “just the piano player

  1. Kev K.

    Disgusting. Remove yourself from the equation and watch how shit their ensemble gets. When they ask what has caused such an abomination you can say “a small piece is missing from the puzzle, just the piano player.”

  2. Brooks

    That is insulting, but not surprising. What about the opportunity of switching churches? Is that still up in the air?

  3. Sarah

    The business meeting was actually quite calm. I did not volunteer to be the interim, and as I recall, no one mentioned anything at all about saying they did not want you for an interim. I knew nothing about the choir director resigning at that time, but I kinda saw it coming a ways back. I volunteered to help where I can until they determine who they want as an interim. As far as me being untrained, for the most part yes…..I’ve helped out a few small choirs with directing, I took some voice lessons years ago, sung with Florida Baptist Allstate Youth Choir, recorded at Great Circle Recording Studio in Nashville with that choir, sung in choir at Florida Baptist College when I attended there, I took about 4 years of piano in highschool, but I would have rather been singing, so I let the piano go. Was offered a scholarship to Westminster Choir college but decided to stay closer to home. I did not finish at FBC but then went on to sing at many different churches, in praise teams, contemporary music mostly. I do not have a formal dregree and I do not claim to be an expert by any means. No one voted on Joe helping out with anything except for hymns on Sunday morning, but not the choir. I really don’t know anything about the charges against the pastor, and quite frankly don’t care. I can understand leaving if you are unhappy and feel you have not been treated fairly, but just so you know, no one said anything about you just being the piano player, whoever fed the information like that was being a bit dramatic. The concern was more about if you were going to be back or not. The church is interested in hiring an interim and taking all the time necessary to find a permanent choir director. No one said u could not be it, the decision was only that I would help until they really had time to reasses. Since I really am totally not about church politics and like to focus on worship, then that is what I propose to do. After all, no matter how delusional anyone is about what’s going on, we are not in control, God is. I wish the former music director the best in anything he does and only wish his family the best as well. My children greatly miss Miss Kristen. He is a very skilled director and I enjoyed learning from him. I do wish the parting could have been on better terms with a bit less confusion, but it is what it is. I’m sorry someone said that about the church not wanting you, or that you were just the piano player, because honestly I do not remember that at all. The church has other piano players, but not anyone near as skilled as you. We could get by if we had to, but we all rather enjoy your talent and demeanor…at least I do. Also, I never said I would be gone all of September and October. Rumors do get all mixed up second hand.

    • Sarah,
      Thanks for your clarification. Though I try to present things as accurately as I see them, it is only how I see them, and of course comes off as biased. I also don’t care one way or the other about the preacher. I never meant anything against you – I love your voice, and you clearly have musical talent and ability, regardless where it came from.
      As for my reaction, I guess a two-fold explanation would work. First, as I was not at the business meeting (and don’t know who was), I was only reacting to what information I was given, which admittedly, wasn’t much. I assume biased information was given me, because none of us can truly be unbiased. Which leads me to my second point: Pianists are often thought of as background, hired help, unimportant. It’s almost instinct by now to think “Here we go again” when I hear of a pianist being brushed aside as unimportant. Not that we want the spotlight constantly – of course we don’t. But neither do we want to be furniture. I have nothing against anyone at the church – I’m sorry if it came across that way.

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