Colleague Exam Repertoire

Performing repertoire pieces and accompanying anthems, solos, and hymns require highly developed skills and are an essential part of the certification exams. Many colleague candidates will be encountering the current year’s repertoire pieces for the first time. As a general practice procedure, candidates should start by listening to a new piece while playing it slowly, analyzing what is heard, and familiarizing oneself with its background while gaining a firm grasp of the appropriate style  elements. Once at the keyboard, a careful and thorough drill of notes, rhythms, articulation, fingerings, and constant attention to musical sound become the sine qua non of a polished reading.

The AGO certification exams seek to instill successful practice techniques for the current year’s repertoire pieces that will be useful in every candidate’s musical life after successful certification. The performance goals for candidates at all certification levels are the same:

  • To perform the music with authority, communicating to the listener your understanding of, and involvement with, the spirit of the music. You should convince the listener that this is a wonderful piece, one well worth hearing.
  • To choose and present a registration, tempo, and articulation which is appropriate to your understanding of the style and expressive content of the piece.
  • To develop, as a by-product of the examination preparation, your own personal learning approach that will give a similarly good result with other works.

Each year, the Certification Committee designates the Colleague Exam repertoire pieces with specific pedagogical goals, and periodically, articles by committee members appear in The American Organist Magazine that focus on the specific study and practice aspects of the current year’s exam repertoire.

For a wealth of insights on improving your practicing, see the AGO convention workshop held by Dr. Faythe Fresse, Sure-Fire Practice Techniques. The  DVD convention recording is available in the “Organ Music/Essays/Catalogs” section of the online store.

You can purchase this year’s repertoire at Cliff Hill Music.