Around 50 people attended our Open Morning (click here for a short video) and a total of forty (= 80%) questionnaires were obtained for evaluation, which was an excellent response in terms of such information-gathering. Of the 40, seven (17.5%) respondents did not leave any contact details; 33 (82.5%) supplied contact details for further information, including 28 (70%) e-mail addresses. This allowed 21 (52.5%) questionnaires to be associated with people actually living in Rochester.
As this is a self-selected sample (only those who attended the function filled in a questionnaire, with the possible exception of one posted response), it cannot be seen as representative of all the views of the local community. But it is worth bearing in mind that those who did respond and can be identified as adults living in the parish (21), suggest that the percentage polled (52.5%) might have captured a real indication of public opinion. Evaluators of these results should also consider that the event was not intended solely for residents of the parish (indeed, outreach has been flagged in our Applications as very important).
Of the 40 questionnaires completed, 39 (97.5%) could be interpreted as positive. Only one (2.5%), delivered by post after the event, was overtly negative.
Respondents were asked to tick any boxes that applied, so readers should bear that in mind when reviewing the figures.
The first set of questions was designed to elicit the level of support various types of music might have. The vast majority declared themselves in favour of organ music (38 = 95%), fewer being in favour of choral music (26 = 65%) and fewest of all (19 = 47.5%) registering their preference for “other music”. The question was not detailed enough to drill down and find out exactly what type of “other music”, but oral responses to HORG members on the day indicate that they might have presented us with a very varied picture, from traditional music to contemporary, see page 2 below.
The second set of questions revolved around why people liked having an organ in the church at all. Sizeable porportions (33 = 82.5%) and (34 = 85%) liked music for big church events like Christmas, Easter, Harvest, weddings and funerals and / or thought that music for the hymns made the services more interesting. At least 57.5% of respondents thought that it would give people an opportunity to learn the instrument and how to play it. Around 10% of respondents seemed uncertain about these questions (qualifying their answers, e.g. “Yes, if we can have someone who would instruct them”). As these are two of the educational aims of the project, the responses suggest that these should be profiled and explained on the website; details should also be given in the Activity Plan.
The third set of questions revolved around the perceived importance of the organ restoration project and how the organ would be used. Three quarters (30 = 75%) felt that it would provide the church with excellent music, and (31 = 77.5%) felt that it would encourage more people to visit the valley to hear the organ. One respondent qualified their answer by adding “Yes, if a proper progamme is organised”. Rated far more highly was keeping our musical heritage alive (36 = 90%), with respondents seeing the organ as an integral part of their musical heritage.
The last set of questions sought to elicit the occasions when respondents felt they would like an organ played. Again, three quarters (31 = 77.5%) ticked family events such as baptisms, weddings and funerals. 24 (= 60%) said they would like the organ played at any church service they attended. The most positive response (34 = 85%) was for musical events and concerts in the church, which would include other musical instruments as well. Although no respondents used the questionnaire to suggest what other instruments might be played, post-it notes on the exhibition boards and oral reports revealed that people would like: “BRASS! (INC. BAROQUE TRUMPETS”); accordions; flutes; “violins and cellos” and “recorders and key board”. One respondent was very keen for us to invite Rick Wakeman and Keith Emerson to play in the church.
Under “Any other comments”, respondents were allowed complete freedom to express their views. One used this space to draw attention to difficulties answering some of the questions (a common problem with questionnaires). Other comments included support for the project; offers of assistance with any of the “heavy work”; offers to provide photographic records; requests for information on the restoration progress.
The one posted response was doubtful about the size of the instrument for the gallery space, and reflected a common misconception that the Working Group has a choice about how to spend HLF money. However, it should be pointed out that this negative response was the ONLY ONE received, and it was sent anonymously after the event.
Choral music was one topic that surfaced several times in all the responses (and once in the post-it notes). This is obviously very popular in concerts, using the organ as accompaniment, with some organ solos. One respondent even offered to bring their choir to sing in the church once the organ was restored.
Open days were also requested by a number of respondents. One even asked that the organ gallery should be left unlocked, though recognising the obvious security issue in leaving the church unlocked and unattended.
Several respondents were very keen to learn to play the organ (this already part of the Working Group’s activity programme). Others offered their help in restoring and maintaining the instrument once it has been restored. Finally, a number of people thought it would indeed encourage people to come into the valley.