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Services offered:


Planning for a new organ?
Tracker or electro-pneumatic?
Classical or contemporary?
What’s a manual?  What’s the difference between a stop and a rank?
If it’s not an electronic organ, why do they say it’s solid-state?

When a church, school or concert venue is considering the acquisition of a new instrument, a committee is usually formed to study the possibilities.  Pipe organ building is a unique art with centuries of traditions and myriad historical styles, and there is an arcane jargon associated with the instrument.  While your local musician may be knowledgable and have opinions about what type of organ would be ideal, committee members will benefit from the advice of an outside expert who understands and can explain all the options available to your institution.

As a consultant, John Bishop offers assessment and advice on all facets of this study:


For Churches:

  • The relevance of the placement of your existing organ and the accommodations for clergy, choir, and other leaders of worship.
  • Modification of your building to allow creative new uses appropriate for the needs of twenty-first century congregations.
  • An introduction to the mechanical and tonal functions of the organ, specifically designed to help committee members understand the scope of proposals from organbuilders.
  • Discussion of various historical and technical styles of pipe organs, regarding which would be most appropriate for your church and its liturgy.

For schools:

  • Placement of organs for performance, teaching, and practice.
  • The relevance of various styles of instruments to the musical philosophies of the institution and wider trends in the study of the organ.


For all institutions:

  • Identifying a list of companies capable and qualified to provide an appropriate instrument.
  • Assisting with the drafting of a Request for Proposals, reviewing proposals received, and assisting the committee to make a selection.
  • Drafting the agreement with the organbuilder.
  • Overseeing the progress of design and construction of the organ, and assessing the completed instrument.

Planning the renovation of a pipe organ?
When an organ ages and begins to falter, your fundamental choice is whether to “repair or replace.”  Many vintage organs are of poor quality and little artistic distinction and therefor not worthy of further investment, while others that may seem hopeless can be restored or renovated, and enhanced for modern use.  John draws on his experience maintaining, repairing, and renovating hundreds of organs to assess your current instrument and advise you regarding the best options.

Many of the questions and tasks are the same as when considering purchasing a new organ, including identifying appropriate organbuilders, reviewing the use and layout of the organ in the room, drafting Requests for Proposals and Agreements, and overseeing the progress of the work.

Has your organ suffered damage?
Fire, flood, and vandalism are common causes of damage to pipe organs.  Roof failures in aging buildings and infestations of rodents, insects, and other pests frequently require expert advice as insurance claims are prepared, or when litigation is being pursued.  John Bishop has wide experience assessing these situations, providing written reports, and offering expert advice and testimony.

Do you need to assess the value of your instrument for insurance or tax purposes?
It is important that the current replacement value of your pipe organ be on record with insurers to provide for realistic coverage in case of significant damage.

As a result of real estate transactions, pipe organs often become the property of “for profit” corporations or individuals who need professional assessment of both the replacement value and the Fair Market Value of the instrument.

Clerk of the Works

  • John has proven experience overseeing major pipe organ projects.
  • Oversee the progress of design and construction of a new organ.
  • Visit workshops to monitor and report on progress.
  • Assess the completed project to certify that work completed satisfies the terms and specifications of the agreement.