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ACertCM


Peter Clark
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The church I serve as organist and choirmaster has agreed to pay for some refresher lessons for me, as I discussed on another thread. As part of this programme of professional dervelopment upon which I am embarking I am also considering asking the church to sponsor me for the ACertCM. I have looked at the current syllabus (and fees!) and feel it is pretty well within my grasp. I wonder if members here who have taken the diploma have any advice to offer before I commit myself (and the parish) to this venture.

 

Looking forward to hearing from you.

 

Cheers

 

Peter

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I'm going to take this opportunity to put in a shameless plug for the CertRCO. :)

 

I shall watch the replies to the OP with interest.

 

I looked at the blurb for ARCO, quickly realised I'm not ready and so then looked at the CertRCO and found that you need to join. Is there anything much to be gained from becoming a member of the RCO other than eligibility to sit their examinations?

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... Is there anything much to be gained from becoming a member of the RCO other than eligibility to sit their examinations?

 

And losing a sum in excess of eighty pounds a year.

 

Since I am in a cynical frame of mind (and we have been here before - but for other reasons), my response is "None whatsoever." The RCO, as far as I can tell (after either mis-managing their funds or displaying a worrying lack of perception), is currently operating out of a small suitcase, by means of a P.O. Box address, in Surrey Docks.

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I shall watch the replies to the OP with interest.

 

I looked at the blurb for ARCO, quickly realised I'm not ready and so then looked at the CertRCO and found that you need to join. Is there anything much to be gained from becoming a member of the RCO other than eligibility to sit their examinations?

 

I think, if you do the ACertCM you have to be a member of the Guild. I suspect this is the case for most organisations who offer diplomas of one sort or the other. Around 15 years ago, I took the ACertCM; I found it quite stimulating and enjoyed the experience.

Best wishes

Richard

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I think, if you do the ACertCM you have to be a member of the Guild. I suspect this is the case for most organisations who offer diplomas of one sort or the other. Around 15 years ago, I took the ACertCM; I found it quite stimulating and enjoyed the experience.

Best wishes

Richard

 

 

I've been looking at the syllabus for the Cert RCO and the ACert CM and am tempted to try for both. The ACert CM seems to involve more study of liturgy and the Cert RCO is practical. The RCO fees do seem steep -and no concessions - but there you go :P

 

N

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Concessions for what? Why should they offer concessions?

 

Most organisations offering educational training offer concessionary prices to those of us on low incomes - pensioners, the disabled, unemployed, students etc. This, obviously, makes such training available to those who otherwise would find it difficult or impossible to afford. To someone on, for example, a banker's wage, £80 is nothing. To me, it's a week's income.

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Most organisations offering educational training offer concessionary prices to those of us on low incomes - pensioners, the disabled, unemployed, students etc. This, obviously, makes such training available to those who otherwise would find it difficult or impossible to afford. To someone on, for example, a banker's wage, £80 is nothing. To me, it's a week's income.

 

One can see the justification if the organisation concerned is publicly funded or grant-aided. The RCO, though, so far as I know, is a private organisation funded essentially by its members - who would then be in the position of subsidising these concessions? Presumably this would also apply to the GCM.

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One can see the justification if the organisation concerned is publicly funded or grant-aided. The RCO, though, so far as I know, is a private organisation funded essentially by its members - who would then be in the position of subsidising these concessions? Presumably this would also apply to the GCM.

 

 

Many private organisations offer concessions - take scholarships at independent schools for example. Private companies such as cinemas - even football clubs - offer concessionary rates to the financially disadvantaged. The RCO membership subscription is substantial and some assistance to the low-income potential member would, surely, encourage more people to sign up, which would, in turn, ease the financial plight of the institution. The same applies, of course, to other organisations in all walks of life.

 

N

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Nevertheless, for a private members' club it's up to them. There's no need for them to do so.

 

IIRC doesn't the RCO offer some form of scholarship for young players for courses, etc.? I can't quite remember, but perhaps that's where any spare money goes.

 

Personally I've never thought of asking for concessions for anything - I suspect a refusal would offend. :-)

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Nevertheless, for a private members' club it's up to them. There's no need for them to do so.

 

IIRC doesn't the RCO offer some form of scholarship for young players for courses, etc.? I can't quite remember, but perhaps that's where any spare money goes.

 

Personally I've never thought of asking for concessions for anything - I suspect a refusal would offend. :-)

 

 

Of course it's up to them - but a modest concession, as most other clubs offer - might boost

membership as well as enabling the less well-off to participate. We can agree to differ - there's little more to say, but, I hope that that fact that it will be a real financial sacrifice if I take this exam, then I will be better motivated to pass :rolleyes:

 

N

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Of course it's up to them - but a modest concession, as most other clubs offer - might boost membership as well as enabling the less well-off to participate.

The RCO does actually offer a discount to students of nearly 50%. Sadly, I doubt that offering further discounts would stack up financially. Concessions are only going to attract those in the targeted groups. Let's say the RCO were to extend a 50% concession to others on low income. Just to maintain their current income they would have to attract as many new members in the target group(s) as they already have. Even if the discount were only 25%, they would still need a substantial influx (3.333 new members for every 10 existing ones). Pensioners will either have their diplomas or be beyond hope, so the RCO has little to offer them (and no real interest in them); recruitment from that group will be nil. I would guess that most of the other low-income members come from the immediate post-student generation. I would also imagine that most students capable of benefitting from the RCO actually do become members at some point, so the question becomes: how many of them resign their membership once they have got their diplomas, or ceased being students, and how many of these could be retained just by offering a discount? I can't see it being a viable proposition.

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Most organisations offering educational training offer concessionary prices to those of us on low incomes - pensioners, the disabled, unemployed, students etc. This, obviously, makes such training available to those who otherwise would find it difficult or impossible to afford. To someone on, for example, a banker's wage, £80 is nothing. To me, it's a week's income.

The RCO has student membership rates - but I wouldn't know if these apply to you. But if you're keen to join, I'd ask about concessions - I'm sure the RCO'll investigate what's possible - my experience is of a friendly, helpful group of people.

 

There are other costs involved with exams of course, which you shouldn't discount if your budget is very tight - cost of buying music, travel to exam venues and - most importantly - organ lessons and practice.

 

If you really are very tight on money, try the Organists' Charitable Trust (was the Organists' Benevolent League), which "relieve by pecuniary assistance organists and their dependants in distress through poverty". They can provide assistance to serious organists intent on getting qualifications or study who otherwise couldn't afford it. www.organistscharitabletrust.org I know they've helped people aiming to become professional organists and musicians through their ARCOs.

 

Preparing for an RCO exam involves a great deal of time and preparation and you'll need to find good tuition, ideally with teachers who already have RCO diplomas. The attrition ratios for ARCO and FRCO are very high indeed - the expected standard is high - so if you want to minimise the exam fee costs, you'll better be well prepared. And you'll still need to be well prepared even for CertR - a lot of amateur players would be in for a rude awakening if they went into a CertR if they hadn't prepared carefully and got some good tuition to get them up to standard.

 

The RCO diplomas and exams are the best recognised organ playing qualifications in the UK and most fellow organists understand the standard required to pass those exams - they are the "gold standard". I know the RSCM are putting together a syllabus for organ playing but I'm not sure what the standards are like to get the qualifications. I don't know what the standards are for the GCM qualifications either - I'm afraid I don't really know what standard an ACertCM is - but considering this is the standard for a pass in the assessment criteria for the "organ solo" part of the exam, I'm sure many people will reach their own conclusions:

  • Limited attention to dynamics and phrasing
  • Cautious/occasionally hesitant approach though adequate continuity
  • Evidence of some stylistic awareness
  • Occasional labouring under technical challenge

I guess it depends on what you mean to get out of your study which course you wish to pursue.

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The Guild of Church Musicians asks for an annual membership fee of £20.00, which I have not yet paid having not received the applications forms, but I have received the yearbook and a copy of their quarterly journal - both excellent publications IMHO. The fee for the ACertCM is currently £200 which I think most reasonable. As has been suggested above, the course material looks very stimulatiing.

 

Peter

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The Guild of Church Musicians asks for an annual membership fee of £20.00, which I have not yet paid having not received the applications forms, but I have received the yearbook and a copy of their quarterly journal - both excellent publications IMHO. The fee for the ACertCM is currently £200 which I think most reasonable. As has been suggested above, the course material looks very stimulatiing.

 

Peter

 

Thank you for your replies. My main point was really to pick up on the membership costs. This is a big hit on a small income and has certainly put me off trying for the Cert up to now. The ability to pay quarterly wouild be helpful, but I don't think this is possible. The exam costs are also not insignificant and this could turn away many potential applicants. On a practical level, I have arranged tuition from a friend and colleague who is a concert organist from Europe - I'll be 'paying' for this by teaching her to accompany the English liturgy - especially psalms! I can also get help from a friend who passed ARCO recently. I hope that, if I also try for the A Cert CM then my experience will be suffficient with extra study with a colleague who has passed the exam recently.

 

I hope that others will now chip in with comments and practical advice on the exams.

 

N

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I've tried not to add up how much the FRCO cost me, for fear that the wife might find out. However, they included:

 

-cost of exam (I think around the £400 mark)

-music (must have been near £100 including a number of alternatives that I never properly learnt, but still have copies for. Anyone need any Alan Gibbs?)

-travel, accom and food costs (one day trip to Huddersfield from West Mids for practice), two separate trips by train with overnight accom to Hudds for written and then practical exam

-cost of music for the paperwork (including purchasing a lot of Flor Peeters and Buxtehude fro the paperwork)

-cost of reading material for the paperwork (didn't mind this so much as I ended up with some very usfeul and readable books)

-cost of lessons (I'm afraid I only had one plus a mock exam for the playing, but it did cost, and then there was travel etc. on top of that, I risked no lessons on the paperwork, and very nearly regretted it)

-cost of RCO Cambridge course (can't remember how much it was, but is worth every penny, particularly as it replaced any lessons on the paperwork special topics)

-misc costs of painkillers, sleeping tablets, bottled water to get through the big day!

 

In terms of freebies, I did call in favours of friends to come and hear me play the pieces under pressure, (cost a few pints in pub afterwards), and I tapped a few people for info on composers/books etc for the paperwork.

 

Would I do it again? Yes! I think the RCO hoped that I might spend the prizemoney on furthur organ studies, but to be honest, most of it went on a huge bottle of champagne and then towards the overdraft! (Then towards a weekend in London for the whole family who didn't see me on an evening for the best part of three months, for the ceremony.)

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I've tried not to add up how much the FRCO cost me, for fear that the wife might find out. However, they included:

 

-cost of exam (I think around the £400 mark)

-music (must have been near £100 including a number of alternatives that I never properly learnt, but still have copies for. Anyone need any Alan Gibbs?)

-travel, accom and food costs (one day trip to Huddersfield from West Mids for practice), two separate trips by train with overnight accom to Hudds for written and then practical exam

-cost of music for the paperwork (including purchasing a lot of Flor Peeters and Buxtehude fro the paperwork)

-cost of reading material for the paperwork (didn't mind this so much as I ended up with some very usfeul and readable books)

-cost of lessons (I'm afraid I only had one plus a mock exam for the playing, but it did cost, and then there was travel etc. on top of that, I risked no lessons on the paperwork, and very nearly regretted it)

-cost of RCO Cambridge course (can't remember how much it was, but is worth every penny, particularly as it replaced any lessons on the paperwork special topics)

-misc costs of painkillers, sleeping tablets, bottled water to get through the big day!

 

In terms of freebies, I did call in favours of friends to come and hear me play the pieces under pressure, (cost a few pints in pub afterwards), and I tapped a few people for info on composers/books etc for the paperwork.

 

Would I do it again? Yes! I think the RCO hoped that I might spend the prizemoney on furthur organ studies, but to be honest, most of it went on a huge bottle of champagne and then towards the overdraft! (Then towards a weekend in London for the whole family who didn't see me on an evening for the best part of three months, for the ceremony.)

 

 

Congratulations on a great result. I hope I'll be celebrating too next summer.

 

N

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