Programmes in Church Music

The Western Orthodox University offers a staged programme of awards in Church Music leading up to the Bachelor of Church Music (B.Ch.Mus.) degree.

This staged route is intended to be particularly helpful to students who do not wish to commit to a full degree programme at this stage, or who would like the progressive stages of their degree programme to terminate with a specific award as recognition of that achievement.

Candidates who complete the B.Ch.Mus. and wish to undertake further study may then go on to the Master of Church Music or Master of Music awards in composition, and the Ph.D. in Music or doctoral programmes in composition.

In addition to these awards in Church Music, awards in Public Worship (including a music pathway) are offered by the Epiphany Guild.

The Academy’s awards are mapped to the levels established by UNESCO’s International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) (2011 edition) for easy comparability across different educational systems.

Certificate of Higher Education in Church Music (Cert.H.E.(Ch.Mus.)) (UNESCO ISCED level 5)

This is a first award in church music commensurate with the standard expected of a student after one year’s full time postsecondary study. The award is suitable for organists, singers, choral conductors and composers, as well as candidates who combine two or more of these roles. There are three requirements: a portfolio of church music performance or composition recorded onto CD or DVD, a peer assessment by two musicians approved by the University, and an extended essay of between 5,000 and 5,500 words on a subject relevant to Church Music approved by the University.

Portfolio of church music performance or composition
This will be submitted in permanent format on CD or DVD and will show a fully representative selection of the candidate’s work in Church Music. A single long work is unsuitable as a sole submission; candidates should instead try to show variety and range. Any style of music written for Christian usage is acceptable; this includes the more popular worship song style and Christian popular music intended for performance during or as an accompaniment to an act of worship.

Compositions
Every submitted composition must be accompanied by a score containing musical notation. Compositions must be notated in a manner that would permit their performance by a third party. Guitar tab notation is acceptable if accompanied by detailed dynamic and articulation indications. Pieces that are purely improvised should be referred for guidance before submission. Candidates will be expected to show a secure familiarity with harmony, melody, form and rhythm in their chosen style.

Peer assessment
The candidate will submit the names, qualifications/experience and contact details of two musicians whom he or she has approached and who have indicated their willingness to act as assessors to the University. The candidate is solely responsible for paying to these assessors any fee that they may demand for their work. The University will consider these submissions and approve the assessors or not as the case may be, and may also request further information or contact the proposed assessors directly. Assessors may not be family members of the candidate. The University does not provide assessors from within its faculty.

The assessors will make a written assessment of the candidate over a period of time of not less than six months, which may include work undertaken before enrolment, reflecting the standard and scope of involvement in Church Music and offering a critical perspective on the level of this work. The University may request clarification on any point raised.

Extended essay
The candidate will propose a subject relevant to Church Music to be approved by the University, and will prepare an extended essay on it of between 5,000 and 5,500 words.

Associate in Church Music (A.Ch.Mus.) (UNESCO ISCED level 5)

This award requires the Cert.H.E.(Ch.Mus.) or equivalent for entry. Its standard is commensurate with that of a student after two years’ postsecondary study. The candidate must submit a portfolio of work in church music on CD or DVD that reflects significant depth of repertoire and a full appreciation of the events of the Church year. They must also submit an extended essay of between 8,000 and 8,500 words on a subject relevant to Church Music approved by the University, and undertake a special project in Church Music to be agreed with their mentor.

Portfolio of church music performance or composition
This will be submitted in permanent format on CD or DVD and will show a fully representative selection of the candidate’s work in Church Music in a way that reflects significant depth of repertoire and a full appreciation of the events of the Church year. Any style of music written for Christian usage is acceptable; this includes the more popular worship song style and Christian popular music intended for performance during or as an accompaniment to an act of worship.

Compositions
Every submitted composition must be accompanied by a score containing musical notation. Compositions must be notated in a manner that would permit their performance by a third party. Guitar tab notation is acceptable if accompanied by detailed dynamic and articulation indications. Pieces that are purely improvised should be referred for guidance before submission. Candidates will be expected to show a secure familiarity with harmony, melody, form and rhythm in their chosen style.

Extended essay
The candidate will propose a subject relevant to Church Music to be approved by the University, and will prepare an extended essay on it of between 8,000 and 8,500 words.

Special project
This is an opportunity for the candidate to demonstrate particular strengths. Example projects might include:

  • the composition and performance of a work for a special Church occasion
  • the rehearsal and direction of a choir for a major concert
  • the evolution of a Church Opera or musical illustration of a passage from Holy Scripture for presentation during an act of worship

In all cases the candidate must have a leading role in the project. They must submit a detailed project log showing the project’s development and progress over a period of time, and evidence in the form of a permanent recording and score where applicable of the finished article. Where possible, photographic, CD and DVD records of rehearsals and other progress events should be submitted.

Bachelor of Church Music (B.Ch.Mus.) (UNESCO ISCED level 6)

This degree requires the A.Ch.Mus. or equivalent for entry. The candidate must submit a dissertation on a topic approved by the University, consisting of a systematic and critical exposition of existing research, of between 18,000 and 20,000 words. In addition, the candidate must submit three extended essays (each of between 3,500 and 5,000 words) on subjects chosen from the following list. They may choose either to give an overview of the subject or to address an agreed aspect of it.

Subjects for extended essays
S.S. Wesley
The Motet
The contribution of Mozart to church music
A survey of the Cantatas of J.S. Bach
Karg-Elert’s music for the organ
Modern Hymnody

Candidates who wish to seek classed Honours will be required to complete an additional extended essay on an own choice topic related to Church Music, or alternatively an assessed practical project as approved by the University.