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jwillans

RCO diploma resources

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First thread I've started - please be gentle!  Last year I set a goal of achieving the ARCO diploma over the next few years.  It is a bit of a slow burn being in my early 40s with a busy job and a young family, however with the support of a first-class Cathedral organist I am making progress with my playing.  I am practicing the other keyboard tests, although one area that fills me with dread is the aural!  I was wondering to what extent the RCO resources would provide me with some practice tests and other resources to help me improve my aural in preparation for this?  I am reluctant to join the RCO only to find minimal useful resources in this respect.

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First of all, you have to be a member of the RCO in order to enter their diploma examinations. The RCO of 2019 is an up-to-date organisation, and I see from their website that the course Preparing for CRCO, ARCO and FRCO on 22 June includes "Thirty-minute aural lessons for CRCO and ARCO will be available with Simon Williams at 10:00, 10:30, 11:00 and 11:30 at a cost of £12 pounds each, payable on the day. These will be allocated in order of receipt of booking." I suggest you join and take full advantage of the resources which the College now offers.

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The resources section of the RCO website, i.rco.org.uk has a vast array of teaching resources aimed at all levels. Although most of the material is only available to members, you can register for a guest account, which will enable you to see the range on offer. 

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11 hours ago, wolsey said:

First of all, you have to be a member of the RCO in order to enter their diploma examinations. The RCO of 2019 is an up-to-date organisation, and I see from their website that the course Preparing for CRCO, ARCO and FRCO on 22 June includes "Thirty-minute aural lessons for CRCO and ARCO will be available with Simon Williams at 10:00, 10:30, 11:00 and 11:30 at a cost of £12 pounds each, payable on the day. These will be allocated in order of receipt of booking." I suggest you join and take full advantage of the resources which the College now offers.

That's incredible value for any professional service in any sphere today.  If you sit down with, say, a solicitor or see a consultant surgeon privately, you will be lucky to get away with paying ten times that amount for a 30 minute consultation.  Well done, RCO.

In response to another thread recently similar to the OP's topic here, I also mentioned that on the subject of transposition there's a very helpful information sheet on their website. See:

https://i.rco.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Hymn-transposition.pdf

For what it's worth, it's by far the most helpful thing I've personally come across on transposition.

CEP

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Thank you all - I shall sign-up at the beginning of April since this effectively gives me 15 months membership for the price of 12.  Agreed also with your observation Colin although I would want to be further ahead than I am now with aural preparation to get the best value from a session with Simon.

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Another newbie!  In almost exactly the same position.  I've been having lessons for a couple of years - with the ambition of ARCO.  Very late to start at the organ in late 40s, but did get ALCM on piano age 16.  But ARCO seems a long way off at the moment!   I hadn't initially appreciated how much more stringent the playing requirements are compared to the ABRSM exams perhaps.  And the keyboard and aural tests appear so daunting.  In 2 minds as to whether to do CRCO as stepping stone.  The pieces seem much more straightforward, but the skills gained on the aural and keyboard skills might help (or at least that is my thinking!)  I've found that many of the items on the iRCO website are helpful.  I also agree the stepwise approach mentioned on Hymn transposition info sheet has been invaluable!  

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If only someone had said this to me... or better still... made me do it... You need to take your time but not waste the time, if you see what I mean. With the tests, the only way to face up to them is to start with very easy stuff... be secure in doing the easy stuff... and move on a notch at a time. So, 15/30 minutes a day, every day. The great thing about doing this now, if I may say, is that you have the benefit of wisdom and maturity. Whereas if you start too young, as I did, and are indisciplined, (as I was), then it all gets nowhere.

I think folk can sometimes be lulled into a false sense of security about the pieces which are usually not at all difficult. I remember that I played the Bach Allebreve in D, for example, in my one failed attempt at ARCO in 1976. That isn't the hardest piece in the world by any stretch of the imagination - probably about ABRSM grade VI. But, whereas, with the ABRSM, you could probably get a decent mark by playing the notes and possibly playing a few wrong ones, we all know there is so much more to it than that... and you will be assessed by three people who are absolutely masters of their art who are looking for advanced musicianship and organ mastery. It would be wise to check the assessment criteria, by the way. Again, comparison with ABRSM may not be helpful - it isn't, for example when it comes to comparing Grade VIII and the A-level recital requirements, for example. 

If in any doubt about how well you need to play in the ARCO exam, find the video about it on the RCO website. You will see a young woman playing her way through a mock ARCO exam, pieces and tests. She is as master of it all - confident and secure, in all aspects.

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Martin, you speak so much common sense and, particularly concerning wisdom and maturity that, at nearly 70 years old, I could even be inspired to work up the pieces for ARCO myself. For me the tests are not a problem. In my day at University transposition, score reading, sight-reading were all part of the course. When at school I even did Grade VIII General Musicianship,  which included all three, because I was determined to have three Grade VIII's before I left the place!

What would cause me the difficulties would be the playing of the pieces to a sufficient standard - caused, I'm afraid to say, by a certain amount of arthritis in my thumbs!  

I watched the video 'Your RCO exam' - I thought it was excellent! There is so much good material nowadays to assist with preparation for exams. I remember doing ARCM Performers and the FTCL in the late 60's, early 70's - I hadn't the faintest idea of the standard expected - and, despite having wonderful teachers, they didn't seem to know either! (I passed both by the way!) I think that the standards for Diplomas are higher now than they have ever been but I think the College's preparation material, and their assistance with preparation, is also excellent.

  

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Thanks for the additional comments and observations, and good luck Andrew with your studies and preparation.  For me the journey to the diploma is the most important part, I want to become a better organist and I am very much enjoying the process.  I had already seen the video which gives an excellent and rather daunting insight into what's required.

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1 hour ago, jwillans said:

Thanks for the additional comments and observations, and good luck Andrew with your studies and preparation.  For me the journey to the diploma is the most important part, I want to become a better organist and I am very much enjoying the process.  I had already seen the video which gives an excellent and rather daunting insight into what's required.

Well said, and welcome to the forum, both of you. Excellent to have two new members like this and I am sure all us 'oldies' look forward to hearing more from you as time goes on.

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