RCO Classes

RCO Classes

Current RCO classes are listed below. All players are welcome, regardless of age or aspiration: you don’t have to be a member of the RCO, or be having lessons with an RCO accredited teacher, to attend one of these classes.

Most sessions are limited to 6 active participants to maximise hands-on tuition; when a class is full we may sometimes take observers, hold a waiting list or run a second event (either the same day or at a later date), depending on circumstances. Observers pay a greatly reduced fee: click on the Book Online button for the relevant class to see what this is.

Scheduled classes can be booked online by following the Book Online links beneath each event. Anyone not wanting to book online should telephone our Bookings Department on 05603 488231.

If you have a question about these classes, please e-mail the College at courses@rco.org.uk

Please note times (the 24-hour clock is used).

Saturday 30th March 2019 (14:00 – 17:00)

Equipping the Organist

St Thomas's, Market St, Stourbridge DY8 1AQ
Andrew McCrea

This is the first of two classes in 2019 run in partnership with the Worcestershire Organists’ Association (details of the class on 29 June, in Worcester, will be published shortly). This ‘Equipping the Organist’ class will address the following topics:

  • How to choose appropriate repertoire to suit your needs and technical abilities
  • How to prepare a score and learn a piece 
  • How to structure your practice
  • How to develop and evolve technique through good repertoire choices

Players of Grade 2/3 to Grade 7/8 standard will be welcome. Observer places are now available for booking.

What to prepare
Participants are each invited to bring along two or three pieces to play during the class; one should be ready to perform; the other(s) can be 'in preparation' but please avoid pieces not yet started. Ideally, these should represent contrasting musical styles. In pursuit of the class aims (see above), advice will be given on how to tackle new challenges, how to practise methodically, and how to prepare the pieces for public performance. Participants will be assisted with articulation, registration and tempo. The Suggested Repertoire lists published for the three stages of the RCO’s Certificate of Accredited Membership (CAM) award are an ideal source for new ideas about repertoire. The three CAM Stages equate approximately to ABRSM/TCL Grades 2, 4, and 6. To find these lists and to find out more about CAM, go to: https://www.rco.org.uk/examinations_qualifications.php

The venue
St Thomas’s, Stourbridge. In the heart of Stourbridge, St Thomas’s is a Grade-1-listed Georgian church with a fine music tradition. The instrument is by Nicholson. Directions may be found at: https://stthomasstourbridge.org/

The teacher
James Lloyd Thomas is Director of Music at St Thomas’s. Over the course of his career, James has built up a wealth of experience as an organist, teacher and choral and orchestral director. He has studied the organ with teachers including Christopher Stokes, David Sanger, James Parsons, and Margaret Phillips, and has extensive recital experience both in the UK and overseas. He has given recitals in most British cathedrals and major parish churches, has been a finalist in international competitions and has made numerous recordings. In addition, he has held major church appointments in Grantham, Shrewsbury and at St Mary’s Bourne Street. To read more about James, follow this link: http://www.organlessons.co.uk/biography.htm

Details of a second RCO/WOA class, led by Tom Bell (Director, RCO North of England), on 29 June, at Worcester, will be published shortly. This will complement the work commenced in this class, and will also be bookable via the RCO website. 

Fee: RCO or WOA Members £35; non-members £42 (places for observers - £10 for members and £15 for non-members - will be made available in February)

Book online

Tuesday 2nd April 2019 (14:00 – 17:00)

Masterclass with Henry Fairs

St Salvator's Chapel, St Andrews
Andrew Macintosh

Join Henry Fairs, international recitalist and teacher, associate Head of Organ at Birmingham Conservatoire and visiting Professor of Organ at the University of St Andrews, for an insightful and supportive class focussing on the organ music of J. S. Bach. 

There are four places available for performers. Please bring a piece which you are working, and let us know the composer and the title when you apply. If you don't wish to play, observers' places are available at a reduced price.

Presented in conjunction with the University of St Andrews Music Centre .

Henry Fairs will be giving a lunchtime recital immediately beforehand in St Salvator's Chapel at 13.10, featuring music by Reger and J. S. Bach.

Book online

Wednesday 24th April 2019 (18:30 – 20:30)

Best Foot Forward with Kevin Bowyer (2 of 2)

Glasgow University Memorial Chapel
Andrew Macintosh

The second of two classes exploring the development of the pedalboard and music played by the feet. Today's class follows a lunchtime concert at 1310 featuring the German Romantic period (music by Schumann, Liszt, Reger and Middelschulte). Players can bring music from this period, or any music where the pedals feature strongly.

Book online

Saturday 27th April 2019 (14:00 – 17:00)

Registering the Romantic

St George's Church, Cullercoats, Beverley Gardens, North Shields NE30 4NS
Andrew Cantrill-Fenwick

Playing music on the type of organ for which is was conceived can be one of the most rewarding musical experiences. Andrew Cantrill-Fenwick, an experienced RCO accredited teacher and concert organist, will be on hand to guide you through the colouristic possibilities of Cullercoats’ famous Lewis organ. Places are available for five performers. Please bring a piece from the 19th or early 20th century that you are working on and let us know the composer/title when applying. Observers’ places are available. 


Details of the organ are available here: http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=D00013


Fee: £40 member; £50 non-member; £30 student member; £40 non-member in full time education; £16 observer place, member; £20 observer place, non-member

Book online

Saturday 11th May 2019 (11:00 – 14:00)

Pedalling Clinic

St Giles Cripplegate Church, Barbican, London EC2Y 8DA

Brush-up your pedal technique, address specific concerns and learn how to negotiate awkward corners under Roger Carter's expert guidance. For intermediate level organists (approximately grades 4–6).

What to prepare

Participants are asked to bring along one or more pedal solos or exercises taken from the ABRSM exam syllabus and other parts of the organ repertoire. Those bringing more than one 'piece' are asked to select from different periods of music so that various idiomatic approaches can be explored. Roger will also be happy to offer individual advice on any aspect of pedal technique which you are finding difficult or which you feel could benefit from some guidance.

St Giles Church is in the Barbican Centre, nearest tubes Barbican, Moorgate and St Paul's.


Fee: RCO members (player) £65; Non members (player) £73. Observer places at £23 and £26 respectively will become available once four player places have been booked.

Book online

Saturday 25th May 2019 (14:00 – 17:00)

Edwardian splendour

Welsh Church, Eastcastle Street, London W1

The organ music of Parry, Stanford, Elgar and others is full of expressive melody and harmony and affords opportunities for colourful registration and subtle shading from the swell box. Come and play your choice of repertoire to
Richard Brasier on one of London's hidden gems, the 1910 Hunter organ of the Welsh Church (a few minutes' walk from Oxford Circus underground station). Built in 1908 the instrument was restored in 2018 by Nicholsons and is the ideal vehicle for this music.

What to prepare
There is a maximum of six playing places allowing each player about 25 minutes console time. Most likely there will only be time for you to play one piece, but you are invited to prepare two or more, if you wish, to allow maximum choice on the day.

Suggested repertoire
Parry: Chorale preludes
Stanford: Six Short Preludes and Postludes op. 101 and 105 (sets 1 and 2)
Elgar: Vesper Voluntaries; Cantique op. 3 no. 1
Pieces from 'A Little Organ Book in memory of Hubert Parry'
Arrangements of English music of the period, e.g. Nimrod from the Enigma Variations, Elgar

Observer places will be made available when sufficient playing places have been booked.

Click here to email with any questions

Fee: RCO Members £65; Non-members £73; Observer places (when available): RCO Members £23; Non-members £26

Book online

Saturday 1st June 2019 (11:00 – 14:00)

Advanced Hymn Playing

St Giles Cripplegate Church, Barbican, London EC2Y 8DA

This class is for those seeking more ways of inspiring the congregation and for those preparing CRCO hymn playing. Anne Marsden Thomas, whose The Organist's Hymn Book has become a standard work on the topic, shows you how to adapt the notes, the registration and the texture, and how to extend the hymn after the singing has finished. 

What to prepare
Please prepare to play any two hymns. Please provide 8 photocopies of your hymns unless they are in the hymnbook Common Praise.

The Venue - click here for information about St Giles Cripplegate Church.

An introductory class on hymn accompaniment taught by Anne Marsden Thomas takes place on Saturday 16 February 2019. Click here for details.

Fee: RCO members (player) £65; Non members (player) £73. Observer places at £23 and £26 respectively will become available once four player places have been booked.

Book online

Saturday 8th June 2019 (11:00 – 14:00)

Playing Buxtehude Better

Phipps Hall Creative Arts Building University of Huddersfield, West Yorkshire HD1 3DH
Tom Bell

Dr Graham Cummings leads a session on playing the music of Dietrich Buxtehude, and other Stylus Fantasticus works eg Bruhns. Graham taught memorably on this area of repertoire last year, and this class is sure to offer inspiration and helpful advice. The class also offers an opportunity to play the very fine Walker mechanical action organ in the Phipps Hall, University of Huddersfield. 

Suitable for students playing to Grade 6+ standard

Fee: £42 member; £52 non-member; £32 student member; £42 non-member in full time education; £18 observer place, member; £22 observer place, non-member

Book online

Saturday 27th July 2019 (14:00 – 17:00)

Building a Repertoire: Music from the Classical French era

King’s Hall, Armstrong Building, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, NE1 7RU
Andrew Cantrill-Fenwick

Newcastle University’s new Aubertin organ sings with a strong gallic accent and is the perfect instrument on which to unlock the magic of the French Classical era. The French organ masses, hymn settings and suites, with their distinctive Grands Jeux, fugues, Dialogues and Récits will be the starting point for the class. Six players are invited to bring along movements (or sections of works) for further coaching with Andrew Cantrill-Fenwick, an experienced exponent of the style. Suggested composers: F. Couperin, Marchand, de Grigny, Clerambault.


There are no restrictions on playing level


Organ: http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=H01027

Fee: £40 member; £50 non-member; £30 student member; £40 non-member in full time education; £16 observer place, member; £20 observer place, non-member

Book online

Saturday 14th September 2019 (13:30 – 16:30)

Building a Repertoire: Music for Advent and Christmas

Hexham Abbey, Northumberland, NE46 3NB
Andrew Cantrill-Fenwick

Whether you are looking to test out a new piece on one of the country’s most inspiring instruments, or are interested in exploring fresh musical ideas for the seasons of Advent and Christmas, this class will provide practical assistance and encouragement for players of all standards. Places are available for six organists, and the class will be interspersed with short presentations on a variety of relevant repertoire by Andrew Cantrill-Fenwick, an experienced cathedral musician and sought-after recitalist.


No restrictions on playing level



Fee: £42 member; £52 non-member; £32 student member; £42 non-member in full time education; £18 observer place, member; £22 observer place, non-member

Book online

Saturday 23rd November 2019 (14:00 – 17:00)

Improvisation for Beginners

The College of St Hild & St Bede, Durham University, Durham. DH1 1SZ
Andrew Cantrill-Fenwick

Andrew Cantrill-Fenwick will set out his inspiring approach to improvisation in a series of three classes, working in a structured way, with demonstrations and console time for each player. This first session, for organists with limited or no experience, or for those wishing to refresh their improvisatory skills, is designed for a group of up to eight players. It will cover harmony, melody, rhythm, and organ management in a format designed to generate confidence and creativity. Further sessions will be available in 2020.


No restrictions on playing level - the less confident, the better!


Organ: http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N14919

Fee: £40 member; £50 non-member; £30 student member; £40 non-member in full time education; £16 observer place, member; £20 observer place, non-member

Book online

All prices quoted are inclusive of VAT @ 20%