I finally managed to achieve one of the goals I set for myself at the start 2010: to take the RSCM’s Voice for Life Silver Award. I took the first level, the Bronze Award, in 2009, and had planned to continue straight on to the silver.
Voice for Life, Bronze Award
In the end, I applied twice last year, but the first time I had to cancel because I was sick, and the second time the exams themselves were cancelled due to a lack of candidates. In April this year I sent off my third application, which had undergone an almost complete transformation since my first attempt, and in May, two days before we left for Kenya, I travelled down to Brussels to finally take the exam.
The exam is designed to test both singing ability and knowledge of the church and church music, and contains the following parts:
- Section A – Using the Voice Well (ie. singing!). My music choices were:
- Hymn: Jesu, lover of my soul, Aberystwyth
- Psalm: 15, chants by Wesley
- Anthem: My soul there is a country, Parry
- Magnificat: First Service, Weelkes
- Section B – Musical Skills and Understanding, which consist of:
- Sight reading
- Aural tests
- General questions about musical knowledge
- Section C – Repertoire, discussion about:
- Chosen anthem
- A contrasting anthem of your own choice
- Section D – Testimonial, since my choir isn’t affiliated with the RSCM, I wrote my own, which was slightly strange!
- Section E – Choir in Context
- Explaining the origins of set liturgical texts
- Put together a church service – I choose a Service of Harvest Thanksgiving at Mattins
- Discussion about the role of music in the church and worship
As you can see, as well as the singing, there was a lot of preparation and background reading required. The exam itself scary, but mostly uneventful, aside from the fact that the piano had a panic attack during my psalm and I found myself singing more verses unaccompanied than I’d expected. At least this time round I didn’t find myself stuck on the roadside due to overhead wires falling down on the International train line.
I’m still kicking myself for making some stupid mistakes during the exam, but overall it went well, and I was very happy when I received the results – I passed with Distinction, with an improvement of 10% compared to the Merit I got for Bronze.
Voice for Life, Silver Award
Since I was singing Evensong, I missed this year’s Choral Festival so my new medal was presented to me during our final ECS rehearsal for Ely. I haven’t had the chance to wear it yet – its first outing will be Choral Evensong at Ely Cathedral in August.