Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Church Music education and training in Australia

Church Music education and training in Australia
Australian Churches provide many short, non-accredited courses, day seminars and interest groups in Church music, but accredited Australian Church music courses at tertiary level, with comprehensive coverage of Church music history, form, composition and liturgical practice, are absent in Australia. Australian secular music secondary and tertiary courses are plentiful, but any experienced Church musician knows that although they provide advanced technical performance skills, degrees in secular music are little more than a starting point for skilled and informed Church music ministry. Talented Australian Church musicians are still urged to seek overseas scholarships, and travel overseas to complete their professional qualifications.
The UK Royal School of Church Music Education Department works internationally and within Australia to facilitate access to accredited Church music education. In 2012 the UK RSCM launched its Church Music Skills training program internationally. Under the leadership of Lindsay Gray, RSCM Australia developed a partnership with Canterbury's Christ Church University in the UK to provide a new Foundation Degree in Church Music, but this still involves overseas travel and residence.
Some Australian Church choirs have recommended the RSCM's graded choral training program Voice for Life to their choristers, with outstanding results. One of these is the Australian Catholic University's Choir in Brisbane, organised by organist Dr Ralph Morton, Greg Mayer, and Senior Music Lecturer Judy Fromyhr. In the ACU Choir Handbook, Dr Morton says "The ACU Brisbane Choir recommends the Voice for Life choral program developed by RSCM in the United Kingdom. Voice for Life is designed to help you discover what your voice can do, and then to strengthen it. It will help you to improve your knowledge and understanding of music and to look at what it means to be a singer and member of a choir. Although it may appear that this program is about sacred music only, it is equally appicable to all of the different genres of music that are studied in the ACU Choir. A White Level that precedes the workbooks is also available for those who feel that they are really "starting from scratch." "
Voice for Life workbooks and music are available  through the RSCM online shop at
Phillip Percival's UK-based Emu Music is currently presenting short Church music seminars in Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne. Seminars such as this provide entertainment, networking, encouragement and performance opportunities, however they do not supply accredited training or ongoing local Church music ministry support.  
For further information see the Emu Music website at 
Overseas Church music courses offer much more in terms of sound, accredited tuition in Church music, equal in standard to any Australian secular music degree. The Institute of Sacred Music at the Catholic University of America (see provides comprehensive Roman Catholic full and part-time tertiary education programs in choral music, organ performance and composition, at Bachelor, Masters and Doctorate level. At ISM CUA, sacred music graduate students can study choral music and literature, organ performance and literature, musicology, conducting, performance practice, composition, chant history and performance, hymnology, vocal pedagogy, theology and liturgical studies, religious and humanistic studies.

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