Firstly, many apologies in the late publication of this post (backdated on the blog, but there’s no hiding on social media that it is six days late!), things have been a little busy! Secondly, may I take this opportunity to wish all followers a very Happy New Year!
With a third lock-down, once again things are reverting to online. During December, we were able to enjoy countless online events, some as a result of lock-downs, others because it has become such a great way of sharing music with fellow enthusiasts. It was also wonderful to see continued progress at York Minster, where tuning is now in progress. Progress of the installation of the new Flentrop organ at the Birmingham Conservatoire could also be followed online.
Those who have followed The Organ Manual for some time will be aware it was created to try and bring countless sources of organ related information together. The aim was to make it easier for those new to the organ, students and even those with experience to see what was available to support them and their love of the King of Instruments. Over the course of Advent @TheOrganManual shared 24 sources of information, courses, funding and schemes available to support young organists. Each of them is mentioned on the main website, but I felt it was important to share them on the various social media platforms as well. So, in this review, I thought it might be a good opportunity to point users of the site and followers to various pages and provide a little more information about them.
With the vast array of music available to us, none of us will ever stop learning pieces at least(!), but the For Students page was set up to provide information on resources available to support us. The student pages cover all ages and levels, from starting out to qualifying as FRCO and everything in-between.
The Competitions page provides links to national, international and regional events. Due to Covid, a number of these have had to be cancelled over the last year or so as well as for the foreseeable future. When they restart they would all benefit from as much support as possible in the form of entries. However, a number have gone to online, perhaps the most recent being a new School Organists’ Association competition. The benefit of playing in a competition is, unlike some exams, the adjudicator(s) is very often a professional organist and can offer valuable feedback on performances and ways to improve. Later this year James Parsons, will be writing a blog post for The Organ Manual and will be giving an insight into this. Exams are of course valuable. The Exams and Qualifications provides links to all those organisations providing organ related to exams, the CRCO, ARCO and FRCO being assessed by organists and currently providing some virtual exams.
You may recall in November Ann Elise Smoot wrote an article about the value of attending a course, the contacts, skills and knowledge you can gain as well as experience a number of organs not otherwise available to students. The Courses page lists those based in the UK. As with competitions, a number have gone online over the last year to allow students to continue benefiting from teachers willingly passing on their knowledge and skills at appropriate levels and with patience, kindness and above all fun! They help hone existing skills, develop new ones, whilst having a great time and meeting like minded individuals, who in turn become good friends. The benefit of courses being online is that they are significantly cheaper and travel does not prevent attendance. However, there are numerous bursaries available both from course providers and other sources. Information on some such sources is available on the Scholarships and Bursaries page.
The final and perhaps most important are the Finding a Teacher and Training Schemes. They are broken down on the site, although do go hand in hand. Training schemes are available across the country, each of those listed having different requirements, whilst sharing common objectives of encouraging and supporting the playing of the organ and offering performance opportunities. Some schools also offer training through their music departments, details of can be found on the Organ Scholarships page, which is on the Vacancies area of the site.
As I have said many times, The Organ Manual is an ever evolving site, it keeps in current and useful. If there are any links I should add to of the areas referred to above, or elsewhere on the site, please do let me know. I close each month with a thanks to my sponsors, RSCM and Viscount Organs Wales. Do take a look at their sites and see what they can do to support you as an organist. The RSCM offer a Pipeline organ scholarship for young organists, a superb training scheme. Viscount Organs Wales ensure that the Viscount Experience is available to everyone. In these difficult times, they offer ‘Play Now Pay Later’, a unique solution and avoiding the full initial outlay for a new instrument and available to organists of all ages!
Stay safe, best wishes