Unless you’re very, very, very nice or very, very, very stupid.
I’d love to be at a point where I’m like this:
Because then, I would totally play at churches for free. But I’m not. I’m closer to this:
Except without the top hat. I live semi-comfortably, but I have a mortgage, a car, property taxes, a long commute, and all sorts of things I gotta pay for. And my church music is a significant portion of that income, in fact, a part I rely on to pay for all of the above stuff.
So I felt terrible when I had to explain to a dear, wonderful woman whose church I play at from time to time that no, I can’t give them a freebie. And neither should you, dear organist. You get time taken out of your schedule. You have to practice a repertoire. And if you accept a freebie, you knock down everyone else’s pay.
And don’t let churches pull this on you, either. They need to reduce costs, and that’s OK. But with music, you get what you pay for. A church eliminates paying for organists at its own peril.