The Royal College of Organists has announced a number of initiatives to support all organists through the Covid-19 pandemic, including free access to educational resources, fresh online tuition, and regular information and updates.
The measures include making the full iRCO online learning platform available to guest as well as member accounts. This means that with a free guest account, all organists worldwide can now access hundreds of videos, audio files, papers, articles and other material.
Where RCO courses, classes and other events have been cancelled or postponed, the College is also preparing online webinars and presentations to cover as much of the content as possible.
You can find further details of these initiatives on this page, and please remember to sign up for RCO e-Diary (instructions below) and follow us on social media to keep up to date with our latest news and services throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
Recognising that many organists are now looking for ways to use their lockdown time constructively, the College has now opened its full iRCO virtual campus to all organists. This means that until 30 June 2020, guest users as well as College members can now access for free more than 300 videos, audio files, papers, articles and other content covering everything from technique to repertoire, performance to professional skills.
Anyone wishing to access iRCO for the first time should visit i.rco.org.uk and register for a guest or member account as appropriate (existing users should continue to sign in as normal).
All RCO non-residential courses, classes and events have been cancelled or postponed, and all of those booked to attend should now have heard from the RCO concerning arrangements for credits or refunds.
The College team is currently looking at ways of providing the material from these courses via webinars and online tuition. These will be announced via a regularly issued RCO e-Diary (see Communication & Updates, below) and our events page here.
As things stand today (Thursday 16 April) we still hope to run the RCO Summer Course (3–8 August, London) and The Organ Student Experience (4–9 August, Cambridge), provided this is possible within Government guidelines and that there are sufficient bookings to make them viable. We are keeping these matters under constant review, and you can find the latest updates on our events pages for RCO Summer Course and The Organ Student Experience.
As well as providing full access to the wealth of learning content in iRCO, and setting up new online tuition, we are working to pull together regular information, learning suggestions and practical advice which organists might find useful during this difficult time.
A weekly curated list of suggestions is being published in the iRCO blog, StopPress (visit i.rco.org.uk – see above for details on free iRCO access for all).
This article also features in a weekly email to all RCO subscribers. RCO e-Diary, an email bulletin which normally carries a monthly digest of events news from the College and its partners, is being repurposed throughout the present restrictions and sent to everyone on our mailing list (members and non-members alike).
If you do not currently receive RCO e-Diary, we would encourage you to sign up for free at www.rco.org.uk/email_preferences.php
The Covid-19 pandemic means that we shall be unable to run the Summer 2020 examination session in the usual way. Candidates will be contacted directly with the latest details, but for general updates visit our news pages here.
Meanwhile, it is business as usual for the Certificate of Accredited Membership (CAM), with assessments available through audio-visual submission at all three stages. Some 30 members have been accredited in this way in the last three years, and now could be the time to devote attention to this important strand of the College's accreditation programme.
Take a look at the requirements and suggested repertoire at www.rco.org.uk/examinations_qualifications.php. The next deadline for receipt of applications and AV material is 1 April, and after that 1 July. Digital instruments at home are welcomed and have featured in a number of assessments in recent sessions.
As well as a sudden loss of livelihood, many if not most organists currently have either no or restricted access to their instruments in churches and other public buildings. Recognising this unique double impact of the Covid-19 lockdown, the RCO has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer asking him to favourably consider the proposals currently being discussed for enhanced support for freelance workers. We have also sought urgent clarification and guidance on access to instruments in public buildings including churches. Click to read the full letter.