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Accompanist compensation question

Hello--
 
I teach at a large, independent day school. I am in the often enviable position of having a full time accompanist for all my choirs (4-5 during the school day, depending on the year). She currently is paid by the hour. Because of the vaguries of our schedule, she hovers around the minimum number of hours that the school considers sufficient to be "half time" and benefit eligible.
 
There are a few issues with this mode of compensation, in that she 1. has difficult to match skills, 2. extraordinarily supportive relationships with students in the choirs (just a small example--she knows them all by name, and they all greet her regularly), and 3. she's at the school nearly as much as I am--and yet, I am relegated to "counting widgets" as compensation for her. The mode of compensation, while it pays a fair rate, doesn't adequately reflect the kind of work the position demands and certainly the kind of work she does. Beyond the fairness issue (and the demeaning need to sign pay sheets for her every two weeks), this is an individual that we want to retain, but are wholly reliant on her generosity to stay (because she loves the job) and not take a more stable financial situation elsewhere.
 
I am starting a conversation with a sympathetic HR office about the possibility of converting the accompanying position to a salaried one, potentially with benefits, starting the conversation from the idea that the position is essentially an assistant teacher position, and not a contracted position.
 
Are there others out there in similar situations that have successfully lobbied for this kind of change? If so, could you share for the community how you managed to do this? What were successful arguments even if the actual hours didn't quite line up? Again, I have a sympathetic HR department to work with at a financially stable school, but what is fair and what is required by law are not always the same thing...
 
Thanks in advance,
 
Mike
on December 14, 2013 5:28am
Mike,
 
First, lucky you!  A good accompanist is worth more than his/her weight in gold!  Church musicians face this problem all the time.  Here is the statement from the Presbyterian Association of Musicians guidelines for compensation.  As you see, some of it comes from the AGO.  Musicians have to practice/study/etc. and they should be paid for it!
 
Presbyterian Association of Church Musicians Guidelines
 
Due consideration must be given to more than the visible hours per week in which the church musician is engaged (e.g., worship services, choir rehearsals). The musician's behind-the-scenes hours need to include such matters as: selecting, purchasing, studying, and practicing music; reading relevant periodicals and books; telephoning and letter writing for recruitment; preparing copy for the church bulletin and newsletter, etc.
 
A formula provided by the American Guild of Organists estimates the minimum amount of time required for a musician's work. For an organist or director, multiply the number of "visible" hours by 2.5 - 3. For organist/directors, the visible time should be multiplied by 4 - 4.5. Thus, an organist/director working 4 visible hours per week would actually be investing a minimum of 16-18 hours per week in this position.
 
Good luck!
Lenora
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