The American Guild of Organists was chartered in 1896 by the Board of Regents, University of the State of New York, to administer a comprehensive series of examinations for professional certification. Examinations have played a central role in the Guild’s work since its founding. Being professionally certified can play a major role in your life and career. Candidates for Associateship certification must demonstrate proficiency in the following areas:
- Perform major solo organ works of all periods.
- Be familiar with major periods and styles of organ repertoire.
- Understand organ history, design, and maintenance.
- Harmonize melodies.
- Play a hymn with an introduction and an interlude between two stanzas.
- Accompany from figured bass.
- Analyze musical form.
- Sight-read open-choral score (four-stave) and organ score (three-stave).
- Improvise and compose in small forms.
- Have knowledge of music literature and history, especially (but not limited to) organ and choral music and various traditions of liturgical music.
- Transcribe from dictation.
- Analyze examples, respond to questions, correct intentional errors, and write brief examples of 18th-century fugal composition.
2021 Examination Dates and Fees
The next exam is scheduled for June 3 and 4, 2021 (paperwork section both mornings; organ playing one of the afternoons). Both sections, $300; single section, $250. Student rate both sections, $275. Surcharge for non-AGO members is $100.
2021 AAGO Repertoire Update
Note concerning Buxtehude Toccata BuxWV 157: the performance of this work is to be of the COMPLETE piece, including the fugal section. This may correspond to “Toccata and Fugue” in some older editions; the proper length should total 91 measures (NOT ONLY the first 37 measures).
The following work may be substituted for any piece in List C:
Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel: Prelude in F for organ (Harbach Music H304 [formerly Vivace Press]; email@example.com; BarbaraHarbach.com).
One of the following works may be substituted for any work in List D:
Adolphus Hailstork: Prelude in trio style on “We Shall Overcome” from his Four Spirituals (MorningStar Music MN 10-896).
Libby Larsen: Prelude on “Veni creator spiritus” (Edition Peters 9780193864603).
Alberto Ginastera: Fugue on BACH, from Toccata, Villancico y Fuga, Op. 18 (Boosey & Hawkes BHI 400122).
Educational Resources for Associateship Certification
Videos Demonstrating Certification Exam Procedures
Manual of Procedure for Associate and Fellowship Examinations
100 Strategies for Successful AGO Certification
Detailed Professional Certification Requirements (2021)
AGO Bibliography for Examination Preparation
Past TAO Articles for Exam Preparation
Preparing for AGO Exams (reprints of past TAO magazine articles)
AGO Colleague Examination 2013/Improvisation Question/The Modulating Bridge by Philip Gehring, FAGO, Oct. 2013 (revised)
AGO Service Playing Anthem Accompaniment/Thou Wilt Keep Him in Perfect Peace: Approaches to Wesley’s Most Popular Anthem by Jonathan B. Hall, FAGO, ChM, August 2012
“It Don’t Mean A Thing If You Can’t Make ‘Em Sing”/Leading Hymn Singing from the Organ: A Practical Checklist by Kenneth Grinnell, FAGO, ChM, April 2006
Regular Countersubjects in Fugue by Walter Hilse, FAGO, March 2008
Ten Tips on Sight-Reading by Jonathan B. Hall, FAGO, ChM, March 2009
The Fugal Answer by Walter Hilse, FAGO, April 2006
Transposition: Not a Four-Letter Word by Kenneth Grinnell, FAGO, ChM, May 2008
On Modulation by Dean Billmeyer, FAGO, Handout from a 2008 convention workshop
Two Additional Service Playing Test Pieces by Kathleen Thomerson, FAGO, ChM, October 2009
Past Exams for Associateship Certification
Associateship Exam 2019 Solutions for the 2019 exam
Associateship Exam 2018 Solutions for the 2018 exam
Associateship Exam 2017 Solutions for the 2017 exam
Associateship Exam 2016 Solutions for the 2016 exam
Associateship Exam 2015 Solutions for the 2015 exam
Associateship Ear Training Exercises
The ear training exercises below are offered by the AGO Certification Committee for candidates to use to prepare for Associateship certification. Click on an example and then view the ear training solutions.