Organ faculty classes and activities

Undergraduate students take weekly academic classes in addition to their organ studies. Classes in Analysis and Aural, Conducting, Technology, Keyboard Skills and Western Music History are designed to complement and add to every student’s creative development as performers. You can find more information about Academic Studies in our BMus Programme pages.

As an organ student at the Academy, your most important point of professional contact is your organ professor and year tutor: with them you will find support, encouragement and a belief that the very highest ideals of performance can be achieved. Your vision is their vision, and they are there to help you along your path to professional life.

In addition to weekly individual lessons, undergraduate and postgraduate organ students participate in:

Masterclasses and Performance Classes

Public masterclasses are a regular feature and a highlight of the calendar for our students.  You will have the opportunity to work on specific repertoire with leading performers in the organ world. By contrast, Performance Classes are led by Academy professors offering you an opportunity to discuss and experiment with your interpretive ideas in an informal environment.

Improvisation

These classes held in groups with occasional individual coaching for the more advanced students. They are designed to introduce you to improvisation in both formal and free styles, and to enable you to develop an ability to express yourself through improvisation both liturgically and in concert.

Performance Practice

An important aspect in the study of the organ and its wide repertoire, these classes provide an in-depth approach to national styles of organ performance are complemented by study trips to mainland Europe and overseas

Specialist Keyboard Skills for Organists

These classes are grouped based on experience and aural abilities and include preparation for RCO (Royal College of Organists) diplomas, score-reading and advanced aural training

Technique Class

This class helps you to overcome technical challenges in order to play as musically as possible and approach a variety of repertoire.

Organology

This series of lectures and site visits teaches you about the construction, design and mechanics of organs and is led by Dr William McVicker, Organ Curator at the Royal Festival Hall. We believe knowing how the organ is constructed and works is fundamental to knowing how to play it.

Choral Conducting: Organ and Church Music

Students are encouraged to attend teaching in the Choral Conducting deparrtment as an elective, led by Head of Choral Conducting Patrick Russill, and to work with relevant Organ professors in other fundamental church musician skills. Opportunities to attend rehearsals at Christ Church Oxford and London cathedrals are arranged and encouraged.

Chamber Music

Performing with other musicians is a vital part of an organist’s development and is taken very seriously at the Academy. With the installation of the new organ in the Duke’s Hall, we can play repertoire requiring large instrumental forces. A recent highlight  was the live streaming on YouTube of Lou Harrison’s Organ Concerto. Other performances include Thierry Escaich’s spectacular ‘Ground II’ for organ and percussion and Bernstein’s ‘Chichester Psalms’.

Study Trips

Performance practice projects are supervised by specialists and frequently take the form of overseas visits where repertoire study is matched to a specific organ-building tradition. Recent trips have been to Hamburg’s St Catharinen and St Jacobi Churches, to Lübeck, Paris, Rouen, Toulouse, Southern Germany, Denmark, Italy, Spain and to the historic organs of the Siebenbürgen in Transylvania.

Harmonium

Taught by Anne Page and unique to the Academy, we offer a series of intensive classes designed to introduce you to the instrument and its technique and repertoire.

LRAM

As an Academy student, you can choose to take the LRAM (Licenciate of the Royal Academy of Music) teaching diploma course, led by Anne Marsden Thomas, which offers a comprehensive, practically-based introduction to the principles of teaching.

Undergraduate and postgraduate students are required to perform a recital at the end of each year for assessment in addition to technical testing examinations in the Spring term.

In recent years, the department has benefitted from several important collaborations with organisations outside the Academy, most notably with St Albans International Organ Festival and St John’s Smith Square, which have offered performance and masterclass opportunities, as well as a forum for meeting organists from across the world.

Over the past decade or so, many former students have gone on to hold important posts in cathedrals, concert halls and universities both in the UK and overseas. This network of alumni proves to be a critically important resource for current students both for advice and for professional development

Organ and Church Music Principal Study option

This relatively new Principal Study option gives students an opportunity to balance solo performance with church music.