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Education: Church music by degrees

13 June 2012

EVERY week, thousands of choir directors, singers, instrumentalists, and music-group leaders devote much time to preparing and leading music to perform at church services. For many, their training has been on the job. Now, Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) and the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) have joined forces to run a founda­tion degree course that sup­ports church musicians’ work. Hav­ing just completed its first year of operation, the Foundation Degree in Church Music is now recruiting new students.

Much of the coursework is carried out in the student’s own church, or place of worship, and involves online study, either full-time or part-time. The RSCM’s extensive network of practis­ing church musicians mentors students in their musical “home base”, while CCCU provides tuition at three four-day residential study schools each year.

Modules include “Ministry and Worship”, “Music and Liturgy”, and “Church Music Management”. Students also research a project that reflects their own particular interest in depth. In addition, practical church musicianship is important, and students submit assessments, perhaps as singer, choir trainer, organ­ist, instrumentalist, or composer/arranger.

Although CCCU is a Church of England foundation, and students have opportunities to spend time in Canterbury Cathedral, the course is ecumenical, and has attracted musicians from varied denomina-tions and backgrounds. These include a choral scholar from Wales, a young organist from Liverpool, and a synthesiser-player from Cheshire.

One student believes that the course is adding to her understand­ing and skills. “I feel utterly mind-blown by the whole experience,” she said. “I am feeling much more con­fident, and am keen to put new ideas into practice.”

For more details: www.canterbury.ac.uk/studyhere/church-music


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