Have you ever had a question about the best edition of Bach to use for the Leipzig Chorales? How about what tempo is most appropriate for a new hymn tune that you’ve never heard before? How do you handle a conflict with a choir member? How on earth am I supposed to improvise a fugue for improvisation class? These are questions that we all have. Being an organist is a unique experience and means being part of a small well-connected community. However, sometimes being an organist, especially as a young student or professional, can feel very isolating. Our goal is to help allay some of that isolation, and provide young organists with a virtual mentor that they can field all of these questions to.
The Southeastern region of the AGO is quite large, encompassing nine states from Florida to Mississippi to North Carolina. This means that our young organist population is quite spread out. While there are many major music schools with reputable organ programs in the Southeast, there’s not one in every single city/region. We at AGOYO Southeast want to make the feel of a university community and the resources of the larger network of organists in the Southeast available to our promising young students and professionals.
The way the mentor program works is that young organists/professionals can fill out the form requesting a mentor (which can be found here). Then the board of AGOYO Southeast will pair them with a mentor. The mentor may not be in their local area, or even in their state. However, the mentor will be ready to interface with them via social media, email and Skype for at least an hour each month. The mentor will serve as a sounding board for the student’s questions and concerns about everything in the organ world from ciphers to choral conducting. On the form, we ask for the student to specify a particular area in which they have interest, or have questions. This is so that we can best pair each student with a mentor who has strengths and knowledge in that area. For example, if a student was concerned because they are starting a new job in a Catholic Church and are unfamiliar with the Mass order and Mass parts, we would do our best to pair them with a mentor who has a vast knowledge of that particular liturgy and has experience in the Catholic Church.
We’re very excited to be presenting this program this fall and we hope to be able to reach students and young professional who need a community in the AGO. We’ve all spent a Thursday morning before a bulletin is due desperately googling ( okay, we’re really using Wikipedia) the origins of a hymn, or what an appropriate prelude might be since we’ve been on vacation all week and had no time to practice. These are the sorts of questions and concerns that we make having a mentor and friend in the same field invaluable.
If you have any interest in being a mentor or any questions about the program, please contact Caitlin Dowling or Scott Ziegler at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to getting the mentors program off the ground this Fall and we can’t wait to work with all the mentors and mentees personally!