The Canadian Reformed churches don’t have an organization for their church musicians. The resources are limited and therefore it would be good for the Canadian Reformed musicians to look around and find out what is available.
When Solomon built the temple, he did not find the materials and skills within Israel (God had carefully orchestrated this) so that he went to people that were outside the covenant people of Israel to design and craft the temple. Likewise we could be open minded about using resources that are available that can increase skills of our church musicians.
Just as the Royal Canadian College of Organists (RCCO) has, the American Guild of Organists (AGO) has a certification system. The starting level of this system is the “Service Playing Certificate” (SPC). By taking this exam, organists prove that they are capable of skilfully accompanying the congregation, play the appropriate preludes, interludes and postludes, understands the concept of transposing, play appropriate music before and after the worship service, and is able to use the capabilities of the organ (registration, presets, swell box, etc.).
A report in the February 2012 issue of “The American Organist” (TAO) illustrates an example of preparation and organizing an SPC exam. The Montgomery (Ala) chaper of the AGO deemed it important that their members, organists in various churches, were able to increase their skills and take this exam.
…anyone who plays for worship services regularly and competently must already possess the knowledge and skill needed for the Service Playing Certificate…
Qualified members of this chapter started planning: they organized workshops and arranged the date for the exam. Once this was published it became clear that several members had been thinking about taking this exam… The chapter executives also decided that the chapter would pay for the examination fee and that the lessons would be free of charge.
Four workshops and a practice exam were conducted on Saturdays, spread out over several weeks. Each session focussed on different skills and techniques. Participants were not required to take the exam at the end – if they felt comfortable taking the exam, they would fill out the form and the chapter submited them together to the national office and paid the required fee with one cheque.
This is an excellent example of how our Canadian Reformed churches could benefit from organizations such as the RCCO and the AGO in acknowledging our church musicians, promoting church music and accompaniment in the worship service. We have churches grouped in several areas in Canada: the Fraser Valley in BC, Edmonton region in AB, Winnipeg area in MB, and in several areas in ON. Together the councils of our churches could choose to do the same as this AGO chapter did.
Candidates commented that taking the examination was important and useful, that it caused them to polish skills and techniques they had not used regularly or at all.