Straight after school on Friday I headed to Derby with my Mum. I was delighted to have been invited to attend the RSCM Membership Conference which I was thrilled to do as a RSCM Pipeline Organ Scholar. Of course, no self respecting organ Scholar would visit a new city without asking the Director of Music at the Cathedral if they might play the organ. I was thrilled Alexander Binns had said yes, and so our first stop was there, where I played the Compton organ.
Alexander said it wasn’t in the best state of repair. Part of the charm had to be working out whether stops (which are lit) are on or not!
On Saturday, we headed to Derby High School for the conference. We were met and given our lanyards and programme for the day. I felt honoured to be referred to as ‘Special Guest’.
Before the conference started and while setting up continued, I had a quick run through of Paean on the Makin Organ, with Miles Quick assisting in settings. People started to arrive and there was a really positive atmosphere in the lobby as they gathered. Coffee provided Sacred Bean went down well as did the RSCM music stall with some amazing bargains (also available on their website).
We gathered in the main hall and following some introductions and information about how the day would run, members sang together, prayed and I then played. It was a real honour and with great pride that I did so.
Derby High School was a superb venue, everything was under one roof with easy access between the sessions. The first one I took part in was ‘Lift up your voice’. Led by Miles, there were tips and ideas as to how to help congregations with limited resources to make music and sing. We looked at Taize worship, and the Peruvian Gloria as examples of following a leader, but also how a tambourine or violin could help bring something extra. I’d been asked to ‘help out’ on the piano, simple one handed chords adding a bit of depth.
Other choices for this session were vocal training techniques, the transforming the power of music and Sibelius tuition.
The second session I was free to choose and picked ‘The Reluctant Leader’ with Rosemary Field. During this session we discussed ways to feel more confident in directing singers, choir and/or congregation. We looked at how to give instructions with facial expressions, hands or both and how to feel the rhythm and conduct. I was asked to try my skills, but declined, but it was great to see others do it and I certainly picked up some tips.
Other choices for this session were Let’s make an arrangement, Voice for Life and Inspiring Music in Worship.
It was time for lunch and it was an opportunity for me to inform people about the Pipeline Scholarship and how it works. It also allowed for a little shopping!
The afternoon session I’d been asked to attend was the Organ Workshop led by Rosemary again. I’d taken some music just in case, but there were plenty of volunteers to try out their hymn playing. We had a discussion about changing stops during a verse, introductions being different to the first verse, speed, rests, pedal use and more. It was a really useful session with lots of ideas shared.
The other sessions here were Voice for Life, Help build understanding between clergy and musicians and Pathways to growth.
With everyone back in the main hall we enjoyed Great Sacred Music led by Rev Dr Sam Wells and some of the music team from St Martin in the Fields including the DoM Andrew Earis. The singing was sensational and really brought home how much music is for all, no matter it’s origin. It was a rich and varied programme.
Finally we ended with an Act of Worship led by Noel Tredinnick and the All Souls Orchestra. They played with Hugh Morris (I was lucky enough to page turn for him!). Again, they brought so much together, different styles of music working together but equally they could work on their own depending on the setting and music choices.
In addition to those I’ve mentioned, Adrian Lucas, Andrew Morgan, Andy Bodkin, Helen Bent, Tim Ruffer and The Very Revd Dr John Hall were there (I hope I’ve not missed anyone), all supported by the brilliant RSCM staff team (who didn’t stop all day). It really was a fantastic day. Someone said, ‘It feels like the RSCM is going in a new direction with real purpose‘. Perhaps I’ve not been involved long enough to know the old direction, but the positivity of the conference made me very proud to be a member of the RSCM, proud to be a Pipeline Organ Scholar and proud that I have chosen church music to be such an important part of my life.
Thank you so much RSCM for having me!