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Armley Schulze + ARCO

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Armley Schulze + ARCO

Postby jwillans » Fri May 04, 2018 1:18 pm

I'm rarely on the forum these days, too busy with music and other activities - and my HW setup just works!

I thought I should make this post related to HW so I will say I am enjoying the Armley Schulze massively. In many ways it has restored my love of the organ. Related to that I am considering challenging myself to sitting and hopefully pass the ARCO diploma in the near future. For our non-English cousins this is set by the Royal College of Organists and involves both practical and theoretical exams. I would like to correspond with anyone that has sat this diploma in recent years to help refine my understanding of expectations and scope. Please PM if you are willing to share your thoughts and experience - particularly around the non-set pieces dimension. Many thanks in advance.
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Re: Armley Schulze + ARCO

Postby deWaverley » Fri May 04, 2018 2:19 pm

Great idea to take it on - it would be a wonderful achievement.

Having found the "non-set pieces dimension" of the ARCM quite challenging enough a few years ago, those for the ARCO seem positively terrifying!

But in overcoming them you would no doubt improve your musicianship no end - which I suppose is the point of them! :)

Might be a good idea to have a few lessons with an FRCO/ARCO who could help you with the various non-piece hurdles maybe.

Go for it, I say. Best of luck, and keep us informed of your experience/progress.
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Re: Armley Schulze + ARCO

Postby engrssc » Fri May 04, 2018 6:47 pm

Agree with the assessment of Armley Schulze.

From a friend "That sounds like a real pipe organ".

Rgds,
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Re: Armley Schulze + ARCO

Postby jwillans » Sun May 06, 2018 6:16 pm

deWaverley wrote:Great idea to take it on - it would be a wonderful achievement.

Having found the "non-set pieces dimension" of the ARCM quite challenging enough a few years ago, those for the ARCO seem positively terrifying!

But in overcoming them you would no doubt improve your musicianship no end - which I suppose is the point of them! :)

Might be a good idea to have a few lessons with an FRCO/ARCO who could help you with the various non-piece hurdles maybe.

Go for it, I say. Best of luck, and keep us informed of your experience/progress.


Many thanks - very much appreciated. The objective for me is to become a better organist and musician and the diploma gives me something to aim towards in doing this. I will be taking (I expect many) lessons from an established organist who have the ARCO and FRCO diplomas under their belts, my post was prompted by wanting to also get perhaps a layman's view of the process.
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Re: Armley Schulze + ARCO

Postby magnaton » Sun May 06, 2018 7:44 pm

jwillans wrote: . . . .my post was prompted by wanting to also get perhaps a layman's view of the process.


Have you seen this video? Not if the RCO Exam is similar or the same as the ARCO.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEZH-G3NRQ0

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Re: Armley Schulze + ARCO

Postby jwillans » Mon May 07, 2018 12:35 pm

magnaton wrote:
jwillans wrote: . . . .my post was prompted by wanting to also get perhaps a layman's view of the process.


Have you seen this video? Not if the RCO Exam is similar or the same as the ARCO.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEZH-G3NRQ0

Danny B.


Thanks Danny - I hadn't seen that video which is helpful and daunting in equal measures!
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Re: Armley Schulze + ARCO

Postby engrssc » Mon May 07, 2018 12:55 pm

jwillans wrote:That video which is helpful and daunting in equal measures!


Think of it as the "little engine" which turned "I think I can" into "I knew I could".

Wishing the best in all you do.

Rgds,
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Re: Armley Schulze + ARCO

Postby deWaverley » Mon May 07, 2018 4:46 pm

I don't know if, while you are preparing for the ARCO, you might find it useful to take the new Associated Board 'first diploma' which is called ARSM?

It is purely a half hour performance, with 20 mins of pieces selected by you from a list (https://us.abrsm.org/fileadmin/user_upload/syllabuses/organARSM.pdf), and 10 mins of your own choice of Grade 8 or above repertoire. It is examined locally by the same examiners who are running the AB Grade exams.

No Aural/Sight Reading/Improvising/Viva/Written Tests - just a mini-concert of you performing your pieces.

It might be a useful toe-dipping experience of organ playing under pressure to get you on your way, without having to worry about all the ancillary tests.

And if you are collecting letters after your name, you would end up as jwillans ARCO ARSM! :D

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Re: Armley Schulze + ARCO

Postby UndaMaris » Tue May 08, 2018 12:06 pm

I would strongly advise against going down the Royal College of Organists (RCO) qualification route before gaining diploma level qualifications in organ playing from the established music examination boards such as the ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music) for the following reasons:

An RCO diploma (CRCO, ARCO and FRCO) is an all round, comprehensive music qualification. The organ pieces are only a small part of this. Whilst the exams are now modular (i.e. you can pass part and bank it for up to four years whilst retaking the other parts), it is a huge undertaking.

The standard required by the RCO to pass the pieces seems to be far higher than, say, in ABRSM diplomas. There is a pass mark and that’s it. You can’t get a distinction (you can get prizes, but most of these seem to be awarded to only one candidate at each session).

Because of the demands and breadth of the exams, it is quite likely that you will fail at least one of the parts of the exam at least once, unless you are an absolutely top-flight musician. This can be very demoralising, even traumatic, especially for a young musician. (Don’t believe anyone who says that’s good for you - it’s not, it’s horrible and can destroy your self-confidence and love of your chosen instrument). I know of organists who have failed parts of an RCO exam again and again over many years, especially the keyboard tests, but also parts of the written papers.

Passing the keyboard tests, an excellent thing in itself, requires so much practice and self-discipline that you inevitably have to sacrifice quite a lot of the time other musicians devote to practising the repertoire for several years to reach the standard required by the RCO.

Quite a number of leading organists in the UK do not have RCO qualifications. This is either because they never took them or because they failed them.

The Royal College of Organists has no premises or students enrolled on diplomas courses, (although it does organise short courses ranging from a few hours to a week in length). It is tiny in comparison to the ABRSM which examines more than half a million candidates for its exams worldwide every year. This compares with around 50 candidates who were awarded an RCO diploma this year.

Whilst the leading music colleges (e.g. Royal Academy of Music, Royal College of Music, etc.) are subject to government inspection, and to OFQUAL in relation to its qualifications, as far as I am aware the RCO is only accountable to itself as far as its examinations are concerned. Unless I am mistaken, the RCO is not subject to any external academic inspection regime.

The RCO diplomas can only be taken at the RCO specified examination centres (one in Dulwich, one in Huddersfield and one in Edinburgh). Candidates can only practise on the instrument they will be examined on for one or two hours, sometimes many weeks before the exam. In addition, the jnstrument may be inappropriate for some of the pieces specified in the syllabus. Sometimes you may find that it is impossible to find for a particular piece a registration which will satisfy the examiner, regardless of the fact that it is really not your fault. For ABRSM diplomas, on the other hand, the exam venue has to be arranged by the candidate for organ exams. This means you can be examined on an organ you are totally familiar with, and on which you have practised your pieces for a long period of time. It also means that, when asked to pull put or push in a particular stop in a split second in the sight-reading, you know exactly where it is without having to think.

My advice, therefore, to anyone contemplating taking the RCO diploma exams is this: first get your Grade VIII in organ. Then work towards a diploma such as the DipABRSM and then the LRSM. You will then have letters after your name, can hold your head high in the organ world and have plenty to put on your CV. At the same time you should practise your keyboard skills. You will need a great deal of self-discipline for this, but, as has been stated above, if you do this for a short time every single day (preferably before you practise your pieces), you will gradually improve, without having to sacrifice too much repertoire time. You also need to work on your harmony and counterpoint. Again, get your Grade VIII theory and then aim for, say the Trinity College, London diplomas in Theory.

Now you are ready to take on the RCO.
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Re: Armley Schulze + ARCO

Postby CWEB » Thu May 10, 2018 6:22 am

I would also recommend researching other diplomas before deciding on RCO. The repertoire is actually a relatively small part of ARCO/FRCO, so if solo performance is your motivation then there may be more fulfilling options available. If you do want to go RCO but find ARCO a bit daunting there is also CRCO.
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