The RSCM is introducing a series of ‘Saturday Schools’ in rural areas and small towns across the country. ‘Saturday Schools’ is a new concept for the RSCM, offering workshops for singers, instrumentalists and leaders involved in church music. Adrian Lucas, Head of Choral Studies at the RSCM, explained the rationale for this new initiative: “The RSCM has long been associated with choral projects and we now want to develop the whole concept of leadership in a new and down-to-earth way.”
Each day offers two strands: one for choral work and one for congregational and instrumental work. For the most part these will work independently, but there will be an opportunity to come together at the end of the day to join in a corporate act of worship. This will bring together musicians of different backgrounds and from different kinds of churches, and participants can learn from each other as well as from the tutors, fostering unity and mutual understanding!
RSCM Saturday Schools are aimed at a wide range of participants; varied in ability, age, musical style and churchmanship. Miles Quick, Head of Congregational and Instrumental Music, explains, “music is a wonderfully common language and, at its best, an amazing platform for collaborative work and fostering unity in diversity! Helping others along the learning pathway is a most rewarding experience and, given the relatively local nature of these events, it is hoped that participants may well strike up a new network of help and support through contacts made at the Saturday Schools.”
Adrian Lucas, who is responsible for the choral element of the Saturday Schools, explained his rationale: “While the whole pedagogy around teaching choir-training is taken very seriously in some other countries, it has been slow to flourish in the UK and many have succeeded through learning on the job. Some people have demonstrated a fantastic natural flair through this route, but it is also clear that bad habits are easy to pick up along the route. Our aim is to provide a range of tuition in choral direction and training which allows people at all stages of the process to receive critical appraisal, support and development so that their music-making can move up another gear.”
“Saturday Schools take an innovative approach to this process by bringing choir leaders, along with some of their own choir, to learn together and pick up good practice. Ideally, we are hoping to inspire some youngsters to want to become leaders themselves too.”
Saturday School events are just starting out, but will be held regularly so that participants can build their confidence incrementally. Over the first year, we will have three centres in operation across England as a pilot scheme: sessions in Somerset (based in Trull) have already started, with more starting in Nantwich in May and Northampton in the autumn. As the Saturday Schools develop, we hope to provide some targeted sessions for musician at elementary and more advanced levels, giving the opportunity for participants to select where their experience best fits.