AGO Choirmaster Certification

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. Choirmaster certification attests to a candidate’s ability to lead a choir and establish effective procedures necessary for a successful choral program. The Choirmaster exam requires proficiency in the following areas.

1. Rehearse and conduct a choir on choral music in the worship service.
2. Harmonize a melody at the keyboard.
3. Demonstrate basic keyboard skills and knowledge of chord progressions.
4. Transcribe from dictation and detect errors in played passage.
5. Analyze form in choral music.
6. Show knowledge of Gregorian chant and its distinctive notation.
7. Demonstrate knowledge of hymnody and liturgy.
8. Articulate principles and guidelines for vocal training.
9. Be familiar with choral literature.
10. Show familiarity with music history and literature.

2020 Application Deadlines and Fees

The exam was to be given June 3, 2020 (morning and afternoon), but it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 -pandemic. Examination fee: Both sections $300, single section $250; there is no student rate. Surcharge for non-AGO members is $100.

Educational Resources for Choirmaster Certification

Videos Demonstrating Certification Exam Procedures
100 Strategies for Successful AGO Certification
Professional Certification Requirements 2021
AGO Bibliography for Examination Preparation

Past Choirmaster Exams

Choirmaster Exam 2019           Solutions of the 2019 exam
Choirmaster Exam 2018           Solutions of the 2018 Exam
Choirmaster Exam 2017           Solutions of the 2017 Exam
Choirmaster Exam 2016           Solutions of the 2016 Exam
Choirmaster Exam 2015           Solutions of the 2015 Exam

Choirmaster Ear Training Exercises

The AGO Committee on Professional Certification Committee has created the ear training exercises below for candidates to use in their preparation for Choirmaster certification. Listen to each of the examples and then refer to the Ear Training Solutions and the Ear Training Solutions – Error Detection.

Past TAO Articles for Exam Preparation

Preparing for AGO Exams (reprints from 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

Contact Cliff Hill Music or Lois Fyfe Music for purchasing Choirmaster repertoire.