Organ Scholarships at Oxford University | St Edmund Hall

October 17, 2019 0 By Ronny Jaskolski

I’m Viraj, I’m the Organ Scholar here at Teddy Hall and I study Physics Usually there are two Organ Scholars in College at any one time There’d be the Junior Organ Scholar who’s maybe in first or second year and the Senior who’s maybe in second or third or fourth year Basically, we work closely with the Director of Music to organise the running of music generally in the College but mainly in the Chapel so that every Sunday, we’ll play organ or conduct or sing at Evensong and we’ll take a rehearsal during the week as well We don’t offer Music here at Teddy Hall and I read Physics so it’s an interesting mix of things to do It’s a reasonable chunk of time alongside your degree so it’s important to, sort of, balance it correctly Normally you’d have lots of help from your Director of Music and your Junior or Senior Organ Scholar so the work is usually split three ways and services are usually split three ways as well in terms of conducting and singing and playing If you need a week off or you need some time to revise for exams, for example you always have that leeway It’s a very social choir, we’re a very fun choir Formals are lots of fun and we have lots of social events during the week as well There are free dinners every week in the Hall and it’s a sort of small formal just for the choir where we, sort of, go in our Sunday clothes dress up in gowns and have a nice three-course meal One other perk of the Organ Scholarship is that you get free lessons whether that’s singing or conducting or organ lessons and there’s a certain allocation I think it’s about three a term but you can also apply for a Masterclass Fund which is what I’ve done so I can get singing and organ lessons and you can get them up to about £1000 a year which is more than enough We go on tour twice a year usually In December it’s the Organ Scholars’ tour where I or my Senior or Junior will organise a tour So last year we went to London I think the year before that we went to Scotland and that was a lot of fun Every summer we go on tour usually Last year we went to Pontigny Abbey which is where St Edmund is buried so we’ve got a strong connection there We have an Organ Scholars’ association It’s called the Betts Association And every term we have a sort of drinks reception or a dinner And every year we have a trip to Europe, usually So last year we went to Germany and looked at all the organs that Bach played on and worked with So that was an amazing experience The organ scholarship is very weird You put down a list of as many colleges as you like to apply to and then you go to the trials and it’s all centralised So you don’t – you might have an audition and meet your first-choice college You might not I think the most important things are sight-reading and hymn-playing Because they’re things you’ll have to do constantly I didn’t have that much experience with conducting to begin with It’s something you can pick up on the job really easily I think, especially here at Teddy Hall the organ scholarship is quite a different experience because we have a really nice chamber organ So there’s not necessarily that much to do with your feet, for example So you can come as a keyboard player and get into the organ scholarship here and have a really great time I think if you wanted to get into playing the organ your local church is probably a good bet because they should have someone there or an organ that you can use But if you live near a cathedral that’s always a plus as well To get into there and have a chat with the organist or the Director of Music It’s quite a fun instrument to take up and learn, I think Especially if you’re quite good at the piano It’s very different and it’s a whole different world of music that you can get into