National Council Approves Changes to Code of Ethics and Code of Professional Standards

By Owen, W. James | The American Organist, August 2007 | Go to article overview

National Council Approves Changes to Code of Ethics and Code of Professional Standards


Owen, W. James, The American Organist


The AGO National Council has amended Rule 4 of the Code of Ethics and approved the addition of a new Rule v. relating to Respect for Colleagues in the Code of Professional Standards. These changes were approved by the National Council on May 7, 2007.

THE CODE OF ETHICS. These rules are binding on members. Violations could lead to the Discipline being invoked. The amended Rule 4 deals with the so-called right of first refusal in connection with weddings and other services. Under the old rule, the burden was on the member, whether he/she was the incumbent organist or the visiting organist, to request the fee even if the member did not play for the service. Some members objected to being ethically required to request payment for a service which they did not play. In addition, some third parties were troubled that the incumbent they chose not to engage would call them to insist on payment and maintain that they were ethically obligated to ask for compensation. The new rule places the actual burden upon the member-guest organist to request that the fee be paid to the incumbent, whether or not the incumbent is a member. There is justification for receiving a fee even when one does not play for a service. The incumbent may need to "insert" himself/herself into the process, especially in the case of a wedding. Guest musicians may not be familiar with permissible music at a particular church or temple and some supervision and consultations with a wedding party, the clergy, and the guest musician might be necessary. Musicians should be paid for time spent on these matters. The last part of the amendment reminds musicians to protect themselves with contracts which secure these rights and responsibilities to themselves. A wedding brochure can be helpful, too. However, occasionally there are tendencies to ignore brochure language when the person with the final decision-making authority does not want to "offend" a particular family.

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National Council Approves Changes to Code of Ethics and Code of Professional Standards
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