What to do now? My answer is clear: make new resolutions!
Today I recommend to you one professional goal that I believe is very worthy of your time and attention. Why not try this year to earn your certification at one of the various levels offered by the Guild? The goal of attaining certification is one that will benefit you in many ways. I personally can attest to this, having, through many years, earned my Colleague (CAGO), Associate (AAGO) and Fellow (FAGO) certificates.
Everyone who has become certified has a different reason for doing so, and each person reaps different rewards from the process. When I began working toward the CAGO certificate, over 20 years ago, I wanted to attain new skills and repertoire to contribute to my weekly service-and-rehearsal-playing responsibilities at my part-time church position. I found -- and still find -- that each and every one of the skills I attained on that first certification journey has helped form a very valuable foundation on which I depend to this day.
About five years ago, I felt that I again needed to refresh old skills and learn new ones, and, being Region VI's newly-elected Councillor, I wanted to set a personal example for those in the region. So, with fellow members in a "certification support group" we formed on-the-spot at the 2007 Regional Convention in Lincoln, NE, I committed to work on my next level of certification. Two years later, at the Regional Convention in Wichita, KS, several of us were pleased to report that we'd reached our goals: we'd earned our next certificates. And, importantly, those in the group who had not yet attained that goal reported that they HAD acquired new skills along the way. We re-committed to each other to keep going. For me, that meant looking into the FAGO requirements.
When I began my certification journey over 20 years ago, attaining the Guild's top level of certification was something I never dreamed I would or could have done. But the certification process led me step-by-step through the small goals that resulted, with time and effort, in that very big goal becoming a reality for me in 2010. I was thrilled to be acknowledged as one of the two newest members attaining this certification at the National Convention in Washington, DC, and I am quite proud of the Fellowship certificate that is now displayed in my office. However, in truth it is the certification journey that has led to the most important and ongoing benefits for me: a surety of skill and knowledge, a level of self-respect, and a dedication to lifelong learning. These benefits can be attained on any part of the certification journey, no matter what the end results are.
What is important is that you start. You could take the first step toward this professional goal right now, in one of many ways:
- Look at the January issue of The American Organist, page 65, or visit this page of the AGO Headquarters website, to learn about certification requirements.
- Look in the front few pages of any issue of The American Organist, or visit the AGO Headquarters website's education area and click on the resources links to the right, for suggested study materials.
- Apply to take one or more of the certification exams this year. A summary of the application deadlines is below; for full details, visit the first link, above. NOTE: You have approximately one week to decide about the upcoming SPC and CAGO exams -- application deadline for the next round is March 1!
- Service Playing Certificate (SPC) -- March 1, 2012
- Colleague (CAGO) -- March 1, 2012 for the May 2012 exam; September 15, 2012, for the November 2012 exam
- Choir Master (ChM), Associateship (AAGO), and Fellowship (FAGO) -- April 1, 2012.
My congratulations and thanks to the St. Louis chapter, whose executive committee recently voted to cover the examination fees for any chapter member who successfully earns his/her certification. Great work!