Monday, February 20, 2012

A Worthy Goal for Your Consideration

By this point in the calendar year, you may be like me:  despite my best intentions, I've blown most of my New Year's resolutions.

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.
I highly recommend that you start on your certification journey today!  If you're already on your way, good for you!

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!

Monday, February 13, 2012

IMPORTANT: Early-bird convention registration discount ends in 24 hours!

I do hope that you are planning to join me in Nashville for the exciting biennial AGO National Convention this summer!  There are only FOUR DAYS left to save $60 or more on registration.  Early Registration ends on February 14.   Give yourself or a musician you love a Valentine's Day gift that will not soon be forgotten!  

Register online at or by using the registration form published in the January issue of THE AMERICAN ORGANIST.


Monday, February 06, 2012

Register NOW -- early bird registration for Nashville ends Feb 14

Early-bird registration for the 2012 AGO national convention in Nashville ends February 14.  Join me and register soon!

Unfortunately, due to a work commitment, I was unable to attend the preview provided by the Nashville convention steering committee that fellow members of the National Council experienced last October.  But below is a report from Leslie Wolf Robb, Councillor for Region IX.  This is definitely a not-to-be-missed event in a fascinating city.  I do hope to see you there!


I had the opportunity to visit Nashville in October for AGO National Council meetings, and was dazzled by the organs, the city, and the people. I can't wait to go back for the convention this summer, and I hope all of you are planning to be there, too!

My top 10 reasons for going to Nashville:
  1. Inspiration – world class organ and choral performances make me want to practice 5 hours a day!
  2. World-class organs and venues – can I take the Fisk at Covenant Presbyterian home with me (maybe the whole campus)? And move Schermerhorn Hall to San Diego?
  3. Worship – there's nothing like having over 2,000 organists singing hymns together
  4. Growth – workshops that give me new insights on literature, practicing, teaching, improvisation, and so much more
  5. Fun – talking with friends, dinner with friends, talking with friends, helping others spend their money in the exhibit hall, talking with friends (we organists have to spend a lot of time being quiet in worship – conventions are our time to make up for that!)
  6. Shopping – discovering new teaching materials and new literature to share in church and in concert, new CDs, and hopefully a fun t shirt or two
  7. Southern hospitality – it's the best!
  8. Challenge – learning new ways to practice and improvise, build great working relationships, and promote the organ. Come to Nashville – go home smarter!
  9. Exploring a fantastic city – Nashville is spectacular!  Museums, plantations, history, and so much more.  I can't wait to visit The Hermitage again!
  10. All of the venues are air-conditioned.  :)