Leeds & West Yorkshire

Halifax Minster organ academy to boost player shortage

Halifax Minster has started the North's first organ academy to try and boost the declining number of organists playing in West Yorkshire's churches.

Vicars said the shortage meant they had resorted to "karaoke hymn singing" using music played through an iPhone.

The academy will provide tuition and support for organists and encourage more people to take up the instrument.

Vicar of Halifax, the Reverend Canon Hilary Barber, said the academy would help make sure the "organ survives".

He said: "In recent years there's been a decline in the number of people taking up the organ.

"We still have lots of wonderful organs in many churches so there's a real urgency I think for us to encourage, particularly young people, to learn keyboard skills and learn this king of instruments."

'Enhances worship'

Professor David Baker, who is involved in the academy, said it was the North's first such venture.

He said: "I estimate at least one in two churches may have an organ but they don't have an organist which is why we set up the Halifax academy."

Vicar of Mytholmroyd, the Reverend Canon James Allison, said a shortage of organists was a growing problem, especially in rural areas like his.

"There have been a number of occasions I've even led the music using my iPhone playing it through speakers.

"It's not ideal but it's something to do when you've got no organist at all so we have had karaoke hymn singing on a Sunday service."

Mr Alison said an organist was important to the church because it "enhances the worship".

"A really good organist deals with the congregation and choir and creates something between them which is much more glorified," he said.

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