What is the value of our church's
   existing pipe organ?
Is it always worth rebuilding an
   existing organ?
Pipe organs vs.electronic organs
How do pipe organs make

Pipe organ industry in the US
   and Canada
Pipe organs and contemporary
   church music
What features can be offered on
   pipe organs today?
Pipe organs and MIDI

How do I get a new pipe organ,
   or get an existing one rebuilt?
Fund raising

Directory of rebuilt organs
Directory of organ builders
Pipe organ related links


How Do We Get Our Organ Rebuilt?

To rebuild an existing pipe organ or to purchase a new pipe organ, follow these steps:

1. Enlist Expert Advice

In recent decades, the number of qualified pipe organ builders in North America has increased significantly. There are also many reputable organ consultants who make it their business to advise congregations with aging pipe organs on how to best preserve the value of their instrument. Most organ builders and consultants are accomplished organists themselves and many have advanced degrees in music. It is important to pick guides through the decision making process who are also up-to-date on features now available on classic pipe organs due to innovations of modern technology. For example, relatively inexpensive features now facilitate automatic transposing, a simple way to help music and choir directors tremendously.

2. Assess The Value Of Your Current Instrument

Making a detailed evaluation of the value of your current pipe organ is usually the first step to determining whether and how it can be successfully rebuilt. (See What Is The Value Of Our Church's Existing Pipe Organ?)

Most congregations avail themselves of several assessments to better guide them in their investment decisions. A minimum of three consultations is recommended.

In most older pipe organs, replacement of the instrument's switching, combination action, "swell motor", and other control mechanisms are usually necessary to make it fully operational and well equipped with the flexibility today's organists expect. Pipe organ control systems with capabilities to meet virtually any need are available to organ builders. The most popular systems are custom configured for a particular organ using standard electronic modules proven in thousands of organs. (See What Features Can be Offered on Pipe Organs Today.)

To locate qualified organ builders who service your area click here Directory Of Organ Builders.

You can also obtain membership lists by contacting the professional associations of pipe organ builders: Associated Pipe Organ Builders of America (APOBA) at 800/ 473-5270 and The American Institute of Organbuilders (AIO) at 713/ 529-2212.

3. Set Up An Organ Committee

As a practical matter, most churches create a pipe organ committee to oversee detailed plans for the rebuilding project and to direct fund raising efforts. Although the project may be relatively large in scope for your church, it is nonetheless advisable to keep your organ committee small, including about five or six persons. A group this size will find it practical to take several trips to other churches with organs and especially recently rebuilt organs. Of course, these individuals should be identified by members of the larger congregation as capable and trustworthy. It is usually best to include at least one representative of those who are already against rebuilding the organ, so that they will have direct access to the facts about costs and expected benefits of such a project. Whenever possible, try to include individuals who are personally able to make substantial donations to a future fund for rebuilding the organ, so that they can personally set an example of giving for the entire congregation.

The first job of the organ committee is to educate itself. Besides availing the church of opinions from several pipe organ builders and/or consultants, it is good to contact other churches that have recently gone through an organ rebuilding project. Although each situation is unique, other churches can give you valuable tips about how they evaluated various professional opinions on the best route to take in rebuilding their organ. Other churches can also share stories of the successful tactics they used to involve their entire congregation, raise funds, etc. To locate churches in your area with recently rebuilt organs, or to browse by denomination, type of organ, or by organ builder, click here Directory Of Rebuilt Organs.

5. Select An Organ Builder

The church organ committee should have primary responsibility for hiring a qualified organ builder to do the job. Your committee members should keep in mind that glitzy advertising materials are not necessarily an indication of superior service. Makers of electronic organs can often dazzle congregations with elaborate sales tools since their generic products allow them a relatively larger sales margin to devote to such devices. In contrast, pipe organ builders are essentially craftsmen and as such spend more time perfecting their craft than on developing elaborate sales brochures. Most committees find that three proposals are a good number to manage. Always ask to see a listing of each pipe organ builder's recent client churches and interview as many as possible for references.

6. Involve The Congregation

Once a plan is locked in, it's time for the organ committee to involve the rest of the congregation in the project. Often, the steps of planning and implementing an organ rebuild can be spread out over a few years if necessary. This makes fund raising more manageable and gives congregants specific goals that they can work toward. For example, specific donations can be allocated to particular parts of the organ. Congregants are often eager to make contributions of time and money to a rebuilding project where the results of their efforts are clear and yet intertwined with the most sublime moments of their worship experience. Church members can share in the positive experience of achieving goals where the result is both a thing of beauty and sacred --- both a concrete and spiritual manifestation of what fellowship within the congregation is all about. In this way a pipe organ rebuilding project can be very helpful in deepening the bonds within the congregation. (See Fund Raising)

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