A couple of weeks ago I took the RSCM Gold Award Exam. I had been working on it for some time, having written the order of service and programme notes over the summer holidays. These both have to be submitted when you apply to take the exam, not only are they marked, questions are asked about them too. In addition of course there is music to be sung. I’d actually chosen my music some time before that and if I listened to it once I must have listened to various recordings a hundred times! My chosen pieces were ‘Hear My Prayer’ (Mendelssohn), ‘Beati Quorum Via’ (Stanford), Psalm 47 and ‘Were You There’ (Traditional Hymn) and I was the first member of our choir to choose Howells’ St Paul’s Service which I love! Chris spent a lot of time with me going through the music and making sure I was comfortable with it.
The exam itself was just under an hour during which they examine:
A Using the voice well
B Musical skills and understanding
D Belonging to the choir [reference & testimonial]
E Choir in context
Whilst I was nervous about the exam, I was also quite excited. I think it always helps taking exams in a venue you know, so to have this one at St John’s was great. It is the first singing exam I have taken (the others being Dean’s/Bronze and Bishop’s/Gold) where I have been quietly confident about my singing voice. I also felt well prepared on the liturgical areas I would be questioned on as well as the pieces (Order of Service and Programme Notes) I had submitted previously. I read through them many times and made notes on them along with notes on the church year and had my parents ask me lots and lots of questions!
The hard work and determination paid off. This week I had a call from Chris to say I had been awarded ‘Honours’. To say I am thrilled is an understatement!
This evening we went through the mark sheet. I was delighted to have received maximum in some areas and really high marks in all the others. My sight-singing was the lowest marked area, but I can work on that! The examiner, David Ogden, had written some very kind comments along with some helpful ideas for the future which I shall certainly try and take on board. Of course the odd mark here and there adds up, but with 90% and ‘Honours’ I am one very happy chorister!