We are a federation of Scottish societies of organists. Membership of any of the local societies is open to anyone with an interest in the organ; each society fixes its own membership fee but most are around £12 per annum. If you live outwith convenient reach of a local society you may join the SFO direct on application to the Secretary (see Office Bearers page); the current fee for direct membership is £10 per annum and you will enjoy all benefits of membership.
Secretaries of the affiliated local societies are given on the Local Societies page.
While many of our members are practising organists, we welcome as members all those who have an interest in the organ and its music, and in church music. All local societies are affiliated to the Incorporated Association of Organists and SFO office bearers maintain cordial relationships with the IAO, the Royal School of Church Music and the Royal College of Organists.
Our purposes are both social and professional. Local societies throughout Scotland organise regular programmes of social events and we assist our members professionally through the work of several groups and organisations. The principal bodies which give support and advice are SFO Publications, the Organ Advice Committee, the Scottish Churches Organist Training Scheme (SCOTS), the Salaries Committee, the Scotland's Churches Scheme Organ Playing Fund and The Alfred Hollins Memorial Fund.
Formerly undertaken by the Publications Committee, we no longer produce documents in printed form as a matter of course. However, anyone requiring a printed copy of a web page or document is welcome to request one from email@example.com and this will be posted without delay.
Our website is regularly kept up-to-date and includes, amongst much more information, News & Notices where SFO activities are detailed.
The Salaries Committee exists to produce and keep up to date guidelines on Organists' Salaries. These guidelines are available on this web site.
Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis the review due for 1st January 2021 has been deferred and so the 2019-20 recommended scales will remain our recomendation until 31 December 2021.
Individual enquiries of a general nature are also taken and help and assistance given where possible, however, individuals with enquiries about their personal contractual matters and tax matters should also take advice from their own solicitor or accountant.
Organ Advice Committee
The Committee came into existence some 25 years ago, partly from the knowledge that at that time churches were employing, with no advice, the services of some rather dubious organ builders when there were plenty of good builders available. Happily, there are still many organ builders available who operate to the finest standards.
Although the Committee does meet as such, we are more a body of Advisers who will act for anybody freely apart from expenses. The Committee has always recruited members who have sufficient technical knowledge to advise about any sort of organ, pipe or digital, with confidence, and we pride ourselves on very many success stories. We are grateful that we work with the cooperation and encouragement of all good organ builders, particularly members of the Institute of British Organ Building.
Congregations of the Church of Scotland should direct their enquiries via the Committee on Church Art & Architecture [CARTA] at 121 George Street, Edinburgh, who will contact one of us. In the first instance '121' will pay the expenses. Members of any other denomination or of a secular body are asked to contact one of the advisers detailed on the Organ Advice page of this site.
The latest version of our bookletChurch Organs can be viewed by clicking this button. A printed copy of the book is available on our Publications/Books page.
Scottish Churches Organist Training Scheme
SCOTS was born in 1997 when discussions were held between the SFO and the several Scottish Churches. Looking to the model of organist training then operated by the Royal School of Church Music it was agreed that a scheme along similar lines would be developed for Scotland. The resulting SCOTS Syllabus is thoroughly ecumenical in content and looks to train candidates in a comprehensive way looking at the various practical elements of the organists' craft. Candidates tackle all aspects of church music working through the three Stages and receiving certificates on completion of each Stage. A key component of SCOTS is a local expert organist appointed by the SCOTS administrator to mentor the candidate - not lessons as such, more a helping hand.
Knowledge of improvisation has become increasingly desirable as a skill. This is given appropriate emphasis in the Syllabus and at training days which are held in various parts of the country.
The future of SCOTS is presently unclear as prior to the COVID-19 crisis negotiations had started for the SCOTS Scheme to be taken over by the RCO. These talks will continue but are not expected to be concluded until after the present crisis. Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis all face-to-face activities have been cancelled meantime, however those seeking more information about SCOTS can find the present syllabus on this web site and contact may be made with the Membership Secretary.
Scottish Historic Organs Trust (SHOT)
The Scottish Historic Organs Trust is a small organisation dedicated to the preservation of original examples of pipe organs in Scotland.
SHOT has an archive and a small collection of artefacts, a chamber organ currently at Portnacrois, Appin and a barrel organ currently in Newtonmore Manse, both by James Bruce of Edinburgh.
It publishes a bulletin once or twice a year and holds occasional events and outings.
Annual Membership can be obtained by sending your details and a cheque for £12 to the Treasurer, William Mitchell Esq., 10 Royston Terrace, Edinburgh EH3 5QS
Scotland's Churches Trust
The Scotland's Churches Trust wishes to encourage the playing of organs and can provided funding through an Events Grant of up to £400 to assist churches in putting on a concert or recital at which the organ is played.
In addition, the Scotland's Churches Trust is open to applications for a Bursary of up to £250 to pay for up to 6 organ lessons with an approved teacher.
More information is available from Stuart Beattie, Director, Scotland's Churches Trust, 15 North Bank Street, Edinburgh, EH12LP. Telephone: 0131 225 8644 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The trust's website is www.scotlandschurchestrust.org.uk and applications for both Concerts and Bursaries are on this site. Applicant churches must be Annual Members of SCT and bursary applicants need to be sponsored by a member church. Bursaries are supported by The Goffin Trust and Thomas Tunnock Ltd.