Organists who turn up week by week to ensure church and chapel congregations can sing hymns are being offered coaching to improve their skills.
The Royal School of Church Music in Wales is pulling all the stops out for volunteer organists as it launches its Complete Church Organist coaching scheme. The scheme is a short course of lessons spread through the year given by accredited tutors – themselves competent organists – with a friendly approach. The coaching can be given in groups of up to six students with the fee split accordingly.
These sessions are intended for the average player (grade three or four) and focus primarily on playing hymns and songs with confidence, as well as how to deal with stops. Those taking part in groups also gain encouragement and mutual support from each other.
The course is endorsed by Archbishop John, who was once a church organist himself. He said: “We are very grateful to the RSCM for helping to keep that tradition alive with this effective course designed to encourage and nurture our keen amateur musicians. I am delighted to endorse it and I heartily commend it. I hope it will lead to more people becoming church organists and musicians, which I know from my own experience is a richly rewarding role.”
Stuart Robinson, the RSCM Coordinator in Wales, has recorded a short video explaining the scheme in more detail. https://youtu.be/h7_I1MTHz9I
The RSCM launched the scheme last year with six groups happening around the country, and those who took part have very much valued the tuition. “Without these lessons I would not have known where to start,” said one student, Kim Woods.
The Complete Church Organist scheme is part of Menter Gerdd – the Royal School of Church Music’s initiative to give support and encouragement to the use of music in churches – whether they be large or small. The broader initiative includes Lift up your voice, a day course for churches with little or even no music. Strengthen for service designed to encourage those who lead worship – whether lay or ordained – to use music with confidence. Look at www.rscm.org.uk/menter-gerdd
Photo: Tutor Wyn Parry leading a Complete Church Organist session in Swansea