Church organist coaching scheme launched to keep the tradition alive

Archbishop John Davies playing the organ at Brecon Cathedral

A church organist coaching scheme has been launched across Wales in a bid to keep the tradition alive. 

While guitar-led modern worship styles have become popular in churches throughout the West, there are still many traditional churches that rely on volunteer church organists to accompany the singing of hymns on Sundays.

The Royal School of Church Music in Wales has launched a short course of lessons aimed at volunteers of average ability - around grade 3 or 4 - who might have started out on the piano and are not familiar with the many organ stops and their different functions.

The course is designed to help them brush up their organ playing skills and get to grips with the organ stops, but also to help them be more confident in playing within a church service setting. 

The sessions span the course of a year and are taught by accredited organists, with the focus being on playing hymns. 

The course is endorsed by the Archbishop of Wales, John Davies, who is a former church organist.

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."

A volunteer church organist being tutored on the RSCM course

The course proved a huge success when it was launched in 2018 and now the RSCM is looking to recruit students for the second year of lessons starting in the autumn. 

One student, Kim Woods, said: "Without these lessons I would not have known where to start."