I am sure animators have been around as long as people have sung together, even if the word has come into greater use in the last ten years or so. This has to be a good thing as it suggests that 'ordinary' people are singing, not just those directed by a choir master or mistress, as was the common description years ago.
I had a few organ lessons while at school, got involved in folk music, then took a fifteen year family break. My husband's recorder teacher was Dom Gregory Murray, so it has always been a serious instrument in our family. Returning to music 30 years ago, with a very encouraging PP, we have grown and learnt. Now though our main problem is that no-one will come to any practices.
This Sunday, for instance, I played organ for Dear Lord and Father, classical guitar Nick Baty's Eldonian Gloria, sang the psalm from the lectern, with the response play over from the recorder, and unaccompanied verses, etc. Is that more or less what an animator does? I hope so.
I am a singer who plays the organ rather than an organist. I am very involved in folk song and getting people singing in church and in the wider community.
In this parish we have never had a demarcation between organ and instruments, but I do mean classical instruments: Trumpet, violin, cello, bassoon, flute, recorders, not often more than two out of that lot at any one time, but it is quite possible for an organist to take a back role and accompany the instruments for alternate verses.
We do have another music pairing of keyboard and amplified guitar, and though we have co-operated for FHC and Confirmation, it is not ideal. The other guitarist is an excellent animator, and people do sing, which is what it's all about.