Royal School of Church Music
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,282
    It's next-year-planning season!
    I'm planning to start a children's choir. Does anyone have any experience with the RSCM materials from GIA?
    I really like that it seems to be a "complete" program. This will be my first time completely in charge of a Sacred Music children's choir.
    Also, since I'm trying to bring an Anglican sort of "Reform of the Reform" to my little Episcopal parish, I thought the source,pedigree, and material would be excellent on that front.

    But it's hard to tell without being able to see everything first. The catalog descriptions are enticing, but not really detailed.

    Ideally, I'm hoping to be able to open a book written by someone much smarter than me and just do what it tells me to do. As I get more comfortable, perhaps I'll supplement it with other material (Conversational Solfege? Ward Method? My own stuff?) but I'd like a framework so that I never have to start my week in a panic wondering what in the world I'm going to do for children's choir.

    So, to recap, I'm hoping someone will:
    1. Explain to me what is contained in the RSCM Voices for Life program.
    2. Tell me whether it is worth buying.
    3. Offer other suggestions for "whole program" resources.
  • Franco
    Posts: 8
    I used the RSCM Voice for Life for three of the four years I spent at my last position. The program basically involves a series of workbooks (light blue, dark blue, red, and yellow), that cover vocal skills, theory, and other aspects of basic musicianship. The books all have puzzles and other kinds of activities to drill new material, and In the back of each book is a list of targets each chorister is supposed to complete. When they finish them they're awarded a ribbon of the workbook color they just finished, on which to hang an RSCM medal.

    For the most part I found that it worked well. But, I was able to split my choristers up into small groups and have each group come to a weekly session, in addition to the full choir rehearsal, to work on their workbooks and their targets. If you can do that it's great because they can learn the basic musicianship and vocal skills without having to spend a lot of rehearsal time on it. It can be a lot of work though and I'd recommend having someone to help out if you have more than a dozen or so kids.

    One of my criticisms of VFL would probably be that they start going too fast once you get past the first level. You might find that in the second book the theory gets too complicated too quickly for kids younger than 5th or 6th grade, especially if they have no keyboard skills. There are also other things that you might need to adapt to your own methodology. For example, they expect the kids to be able to sight sing but don't really provide any kind of ideas on what approach to take. I just taught them solfege, and it worked great for me. Also, I had to supplement the workbooks with worksheets from Sibelius so that the kids could have some more practice.

    Anyhow, if you can incorporate it well into a choral schedule and have enough help I would really recommend it.

    PS-- I usually had the kids reimburse the parish for the workbooks, and we just paid for the teacher's edition and the RSCM annual membership.