Scottish Churches Organist Training Scheme (SCOTS)


The RCO Scottish Churches Organist Training Scheme (RCO SCOTS) exists to find and encourage emerging organists in Scotland, as well as to help those already in posts to develop their skills.

The focus is on developing the gifts, skills and understanding to contribute to a more satisfying experience of worship for the whole congregation.

How does it work?


Participants work at their own pace towards three successive certificates but with occasional meetings with an adviser who is an experienced organist and church musician. They follow the SCOTS syllabus, which lists organ pieces and hymn/psalm tunes, chants and settings suitable for each stage. Click here to download the latest syllabus.

The adviser helps the participant identify what progress is being made and which aspects need more attention. A participant attends at least one of the local organ workshops offered each year, spread widely across the country, with occasional online meetings for those who cannot easily reach one of our venues. Through the workshops, participants come to know others in similar situations and give support to each other.

At each location, local organists are warmly welcomed to join in the workshops. Local organ workshops are generally on Saturdays from about 10am to about 3pm. Information about forthcoming workshops can be found on our events page

An adviser doesn’t have the same role as a teacher. Some participants in SCOTS also have a regular organ teacher or take occasional lessons from one.

Who can join?

RCO SCOTS is open to any organist who is resident or regularly playing in Scotland. It doesn’t matter if you are just beginning, or an organist of long standing wanting to improve your skills. SCOTS is welcoming and non-threatening. There is no pressure to get through; you work at your own pace – from a year or two to a lifetime.

The SCOTS programme is open free of charge to all qualifying Full or Student RCO members, with a special SCOTS Affiliate RCO membership rate available for non-members wishing to participate (see details here).

SCOTS is an ecumenical scheme, geared to the needs of all denominations. Founded in 1997, the programme is managed by the RCO and supported by the Scottish Federation of Organists, the Royal School of Church Music in Scotland and the Scottish churches.

SCOTS Local Organ Workshops

We run several of these each year, spread widely across the country, with occasional online meetings for those who cannot easily reach one of our venues. Members of SCOTS are encouraged to attend at least one of these each year. They are good for meeting others, hearing about their situations, and enjoying their support.

Apply today

Existing RCO members wishing to apply for the SCOTS programme (see Who can join? above) should complete and submit the following form. The programme administrator will then get in touch to confirm the appointment of a SCOTS adviser and other details. There is no additional charge for Full or Student RCO members wishing to take part in the SCOTS programme.

Non RCO members wishing to take part in the SCOTS programme should also complete this form. Applicants should wait for the programme administrator to get in touch with details of an adviser, which you will require to complete your application by registering as an RCO SCOTS Affiliate member of the RCO (full details will be provided by the SCOTS administrator).

Please use this form to submit your application for SCOTS membership BEFORE completing your RCO membership application. If you have any queries or you would prefer to apply via email or post, please contact Ruth Irons on ruth.irons@rco.org.uk or telephone 07592 374745.

1. Name and contact details

2. Do you have a current church appointment?

If yes, please give brief details:

3. Description of practice facilities

4. Are you currently taking organ lessons?

If yes, please give your teacher's name (please note that your SCOTS adviser and your private teacher cannot be the same person).

5. Do you have any relevant practical qualifications (e.g. piano grades) or experience?

If yes, please give brief details.

6. Have you studied music theory?

If yes, please give brief details.

7. At which stage would you like to enter SCOTS?

(Stage 1 is roughly equivalent to ABRSM Grade 2. Stage 2 roughly equates with Grade 4 and Stage 3 represents a level of difficulty from Grade 5 upwards)

8. Declaration