Through generous donations by College members and members of the public, monies are taken from the College Development Fund (CDF) to assist beginning organ students who show promise and ability playing the organ to pursue organ study. These funds are limited and will vary from year to year. Please note that application is made through local Centres of the RCCO.
Who Can apply for a National Beginner’s Scholarship?
Any person who shows ability and promise as an organ student.
When should I apply for these Beginner Scholarships?
This will vary from Centre to Centre as it is the Centre who adjudicates the applicants. Application is made through your local Centre and each Centre will have its own form and method for applying. Many Centres take applications in the fall for study during the winter months, others take applications in the spring to be ready to teach in the fall or over the summer as agreed by teacher and student. Contact your local RCCO Centre and see how they proceed with applications, timing, interviews, etc.
How does the local Centre determine who has “ability and promise” as an organist?
Each local Centre of the RCCO will set their own standard. Most applicants are chosen by audition which could consist of: A piano piece pre-1750, + A piano piece composed after 1750, + a sight piece, + a sight hymn, + a prepared hymn, + an interview by the local scholarship committee. Some applicants are chosen by nomination by the local scholarship committee, documenting reasons as to the selection of the candidate. In each case an interview will be held with the local Scholarship committee to chat about your musical aspirations.
How much piano study must I have to apply?
This again is determined by each local Centre of the RCCO. In general, persons with less than Grade VI (Royal Conservatory of Music) do not progress very quickly. Some Centres insist on a minimum of Grade VIII (RCM). We also suggest that you continue your piano study if possible.
Do I stand a chance of getting a scholarship when up against applicants with Grade X or ARCT piano when I have less piano study?
Yes, as all scholarships are considered on an individual basis viz. that you show promise and have a reasonable chance of success in playing the organ.
Is there an age limit to apply?
No. We have had students as young as 12 and as old as 70 but find that those under 40 learn the fastest. Age 12 is mentioned as it is desirable to have legs long enough to reach the pedals! Centres may make exception to this rule of thumb for a very promising candidate.
How is the application handled should I be the recipient of a National Scholarship?
Local centres will state the reasons for selection of a candidate and present this to the National Scholarship and Bursary Committee consisting of six members of The College. Upon approval, money will be sent to your local Centre to pay a qualified organist to teach you.
How many lessons will I receive?
This will vary from Centre to Centre depending on the rate paid to the teacher and the length of lesson. In general most Centres offer ten lessons of one hour each to be completed within six months of commencement. Specific arrangements are made with your teacher. We find that most serious beginners who practice regularly can properly play pieces from J.S. Bach’s early period, some hymn tunes, and other simple compositions for organ by the end of the lesson set.
If I already have a church job but have never had formal organ lessons am I eligible to apply?
Certainly. We would like to see you use the organ correctly. It is a strange thing but pianists seem to think that because an organ has a keyboard similar to a piano that they can play the organ. The keys only look the same; however, the keys are depressed differently, the hand shape is different, the feel different and the entire technique is different. Then there is the registration of all those different sounds, pedals, pistons, toe studs and pedals to cope with. Hardly a piano! Certainly not piano technique!
If I find that I have really had success and enjoyment from playing the organ because of this scholarship, may I receive a second set of lessons?
National funds are limited to beginners, but many Centres have local scholarships which will enable promising students to continue organ study should the student qualify. Centres offering scholarships may be found here.