RSCM America sponsors a number of summer training courses throughout the United States. Each course is as unique as its setting. All courses provide the opportunity for choral training and exploring wonderful choral music in liturgical and/or concert settings. Some courses offer master classes in organ performance, choral conducting and composition. Several courses offer adult seminars, activities, and opportunities for networking and fellowship.
The courses take place in cathedrals and other large churches in major cities with choristers residing in hotels, university settings, small private schools or rustic, lakefront facilities. All course locations are chosen for the safety and comfort of the participants. Each course includes additional activities. These activities can include sports, recreation, crafts, field trips and boat races. There are customs unique to each course that generate fun and enthusiasm.
The music directors are renowned in their field and offer excellent leadership for youths and adults to learn new techniques and skills. In addition, significant opportunities for spiritual and theological enrichment are also offered.
Two scholarships are available from RSCM America each year. Click here for scholarship application guidelines and procedures.
Scholarships are also available from individual Training Courses, including: Carolina Course; King's College Course; Tulsa Course
The Training Courses provide programs for:
RSCM America 2016 Training Courses
Course veterans and new participants alike enjoy the University of Tulsa campus, offering large open fields and diverse twentieth-century architecture. Boys are given the opportunity to excel in daily rehearsals and services. Adult participants rehearse daily with the boys and participate in educational seminars. Final choral services are held at beautiful Trinity Episcopal Church.
- The Tulsa Course has been cancelled for 2016. Look for us again in 2017!
- Contact: Sara Arnold, Course Manager: (918) 640-4274 or email@example.com; Casey Cantwell, Course Manager: (918) 359-9029 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Course Website: rscmtulsa.com
MONTREAL COURSE at ST. MARK'S SCHOOL
This course offers a broad range of challenging choral repertoire as well as plenty of time for fun. In addition to our daily singing activities and voice coaching, the course now offers boys and teens musicianship training at various levels, further strengthening music reading and vocal ability.
- The Montreal Course will be held again in 2017! Watch this space for details!
- Contact: Fr. Robert Picken, Course Manager: email@example.com
- Course Website: mbccusa.com
GULF COAST COURSE
The Gulf Coast Course will be directed this year by Dr. Giles Brightwell, organist and choirmaster at St. Thomas' Episcopal Church, Houston, Tex.; Dr. Joseph Causby, organist and choirmaster at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, San Antonio; and Dr. Paolo Bordignon, director of music at St. Paul's United Methodist Church, Houston. All trebles will be offered individual and group instruction by this exceptional staff. The course offers two organ scholar positions that will provide invaluable experience; in addition to accompanying services, individual lessons will be offered. Our theme this year is Tudors and Texans: 500 Glorious Years of Church Music. Services of Evensong and Eucharist will be sung at St. Thomas' and St. Paul's, with Compline at St. Basil's Chapel, University of St. Thomas. An outreach concert for patients and their families will be performed at Methodist Hospital's Crain Garden. The girls will discover the lives of the Tudors and sing glorious repertoire from that time through the present day. A Madrigal Feast and a jousting competition will add to the fun.
- Participants: 40 girls, age 10-18; 2 organ scholars
- Dates: June 6-12, 2016
- Music Directors: Dr. Giles Brightwell, Dr. Joseph Causby, and Dr. Paolo Bordignon
- Residential Venue: University of St. Thomas, Houston, Tex.
- Concerts/Services Venues: St. Thomas' Episcopal Church, St. Paul's United Methodist Church, and St. Basil's Chapel, Houston
- Course Fees: $575 for all registered by April 15, 2016; $585 for all registered after April 15, 2016. RSCM members receive a $25 discount
- Contact: Anna Teagarden, Course Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org; Peggy Odam, Registrar: email@example.com
- Course Website: rscmgulfcoast.org
After celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Carolina Course is poised to continue its tradition of excellence under the musical leadership of Dr. Michael Velting, Canon for Music at Christ Church Cathedral in Nashville, Tenn. The course also welcomes renowned composer and theologian Dr. William Bradley Roberts, who will lead participants in meaningful liturgies and spiritual enrichment throughout the week. Nestled in the heart of the state capital on the beautiful campus of Saint Mary's School, participants will enjoy an exhilarating week surrounded by glorious music, kindred fellowship, and inspiring architecture. Adults will enjoy complimentary seminars and organ playing opportunities for career and performance development. Girls will be in residence at Saint Mary's School, where all rehearsals and activities are held, and adults will reside in the nearby Doubletree Hotel. Organists age 18-25 are invited to apply for the Organ Scholar position by contacting the Course Manager.
- Participants: 50 girls, age 10-18; 25 adults; 1 organ scholar; 1 conducting scholar
- Dates: June 27-July 3, 2016
- Music Director: Dr. Michael Velting, Christ Church Cathedral, Nashville, Tenn.
- Organist: Colin Lynch, Trinity Church, Boston, Mass.
- Course Chaplain: Dr. William Bradley Roberts, Virginia Theological Seminary, Alexandria, Va.
- Residential Venues: Saint Mary’s School, Raleigh, N.C. (girls) and Doubletree Hotel (adults)
- Concerts/Services Venues: St. Michael's Episcopal Church, Raleigh and Duke University Chapel, Durham, N.C.
- Course Fees: Registrations received by April 1, 2016: $585 for girls; $625 for adults; $425 for commuting adults. After April 1: $610 for girls; $650 for adults; $425 for commuting adults. RSCM members receive a $25 discount. First-time adult participants also receive an additional $25 discount
- Contact: Marilyn Neely, Registrar: (910) 690-9236 or firstname.lastname@example.org; Matthew Michael Brown, Course Manager: email@example.com
- Course Website: carolinarscm.org
PACIFIC NORTHWEST COURSE
The Pacific Northwest RSCM training course gathers singers of diverse ages and abilities for musical and spiritual enrichment in the majesty of the Pacific Northwest. We provide choristers and adult participants with a variety of opportunities for musical enrichment, both through their work with an esteemed music director and through breakout sessions focusing on a number of diverse musical and vocal concepts. While the focus of the course is musical excellence, we are committed to offering participants plenty of opportunities for recreation and enjoyment of the natural beauty of the area through hikes and other uniquely "Northwestern" activities.
- Participants: 30 youth (rising 4th-12th grades); 20 adults; 3 organ scholars
- Dates: June 27-July 3, 2016
- Music Director: Richard Webster, FRSCM, Trinity Church, Boston, Mass.
- Organ Scholar Mentor: Michael Kleinschmidt, St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral, Seattle, Wash.
- Organist: Christopher Lynch, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Portland, Ore.
- Residential Venue: Lewis & Clark College, Portland
- Concerts/Services Venues: Friday Evensong at Lewis & Clark College; final services at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral
- Course Fees: Registrations received by April 1, 2016: $580; Registrations received after April 1, 2016: $595; RSCM members receive a $15 discount
- Contact: Arwen Myers, Course Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org; Michael Kleinschmidt, Course Manager: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
- Course Website: rscmpnw.com
Trebles and teens will rehearse daily with Ms. MacDonald and with distinguished housemasters who provide individual attention in smaller groups. All youth singers are offered small group voice instruction and theory classes, and a complete program for teen young men singing alto, tenor, and bass is provided. Recreation, fun, and worship are part of each day. Adults may participate in and observe rehearsals, and attend daily seminars, including one about the RSCM’s acclaimed VOICE for LIFE training curriculum. Two organ scholars will work daily with the course organist.
- Participants: 60 young singers (boys, girls, teens) ages 10-18; 30 adults; 2 organ scholars
- Dates: July 18-24, 2016
- Music Director: Sarah MacDonald, Selwyn College, University of Cambridge and Ely Cathedral
- Organist: Stephen Buzard, St. Thomas Church and Choir School, New York, N.Y.
- Residential Venue: Queens University of Charlotte, N.C.
- Concerts/Services Venues: Myers Park Baptist Church and St. John’s Episcopal Church, Charlotte
- Course Fees: Deposit and forms received before April 1, 2016: $595; after April 1, 2016: $620. RSCM members receive a $25 discount on each registration
- Contact: Alan Reed, Course Manager: (704) 408-7489 or email@example.com; Tracy Reed, Course Manager: (704) 849-9791
- Course Website: saintjohns-charlotte.org/rscm
KING'S COLLEGE COURSE
In this, the largest of the summer courses, girls, boys, and adults sing both their own repertoire and as a combined chorus. There are unique opportunities for young adults and adults to include a separate Compline Choir. King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. offers a splendid location in the heart of the Pocono Mountains. The reverberant and versatile worship space of St. Stephen’s Church provides an ideal setting for inspiring music-making and liturgy.
- Participants: 60 girls, 40 boys, 20 young adults, 40 adults, 2 organ scholars
- Dates: July 18-24, 2016
- Music Director: Andrew Reid, director of RSCM International
- Organists: Mark Laubach, St. Stephen's Episcopal Pro-Cathedral, Wilkes Barre, Pa. and Tom Sheehan, The Memorial Church, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.
- Residential Venue: King’s College, Wilkes-Barre
- Concerts/Services Venue: St. Stephen’s Episcopal Pro-Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre
- Course Fees: Registrations received before April 1, 2016: $595 for RSCM members, $635 for non-members; after April 1, 2016: $620 for RSCM members, $660 for non-members
- Contact: Addie Peyronnin, Course Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org; Raphael Micca, Registrar: (570) 301-9253 or email@example.com; T.J. Thomas, Organ Scholars: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Course Website: kingscollegecourse.com
ST. LOUIS COURSE
Novice singers to advanced choristers will enjoy the repertoire and inspirational music-making available at the St. Louis Course. Now in its 19th year, the course offers instructional attention to music theory, ear training, and the development of a beautiful vocal sound. Choristers, teen singers, and adults work with outstanding housemasters in small groups to perfect the repertoire. Adult participants will rehearse daily with the choristers and have the opportunity to meet for several education sessions and discussions.
- Participants: 35 boys and girls, treble voices grade 4 and up; 25 adults and teens (altos, tenors, and basses)
- Dates: July 18-24, 2016
- Music Director: Bruce Neswick, FRSCM
- Organist: Nicholas Quardokus
- Residential Venue: Toddhall Retreat Center, Columbia, Ill.
- Concerts/Services Venues: The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, Mo. and First Presbyterian Church, Kirkwood, Mo.
- Course Fees: $585 for registrations received by April 15, 2016; $620 for registrations received after April 15, 2016. RSCM members receive a $25 discount
- Contact: Debra Nethercott, Course Manager: email@example.com
- Course Website: rscmstl.org
WASHINGTON D.C. COURSE for EXPERIENCED TREBLES and TEENAGE YOUNG MEN
The ultimate opportunity for advanced singers--both treble choristers and teenage altos, tenors, and basses--the Washington Course is an exciting and challenging course that takes place on the Close of the Washington National Cathedral and at the campus of Episcopal High School and other important venues in the D.C. metropolitan area. Young people love returning to the course year after year for the opportunity to make music at a very high level in this important place, to renew friendships, and to experience our nation’s capital. Episcopal High School and the National Cathedral are only two of several Washington-area venues for services and exploration throughout the week. Choristers will find themselves immersed in all things beautiful, from fine music and singing to historic venues and life-long friendships.
- Participants: 40 trebles (boys and girls age 9-18) and 20 teenage young men (age 18 and younger) of experienced ability--red or yellow ribbon, or equivalent
- Dates: July 25-31, 2016
- Music Director: Ben Outen, St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Charlotte, N.C.
- Organist: National Cathedral Organists
- Residential Venue: Episcopal High School, Alexandria, Va.
- Concerts/Services Venues: Washington National Cathedral, Washington, D.C. and Virginia Theological Seminary, Alexandria, Va., among others
- Course Fees: $650. RSCM members receive a $25 discount. Registration deadline is June 15, 2016
- Contact: Ben Keseley, Course Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Course Website: rscmwashingtondc.org
RHODE ISLAND COURSE at NEWPORT
The Rhode Island Course at Newport is a week-long retreat for children and adults to expand their love of sacred music while enjoying southern New England's coastal scenery and historic architecture. Under the direction of Walden Moore, services will be sung in the beautiful Gothic revival chapel at St. George's School and historic Grace Church in Providence. The course offers additional workshops in conducting, composition, handbells, and vocal technique. Morning Prayer and Compline bookend each day's activities. Social outings will include a trip to the beach, a banquet at Belcourt of Newport, and a tour of the First Baptist Church in America. This promises to be a memorable week of making beautiful music and forging new friendships.
- Participants: Boys and girls, age 9-18; adults; organ scholars age 16-25
- Dates: August 1-7, 2016
- Music Director: Walden Moore, Trinity Episcopal Church on the Green, New Haven, Conn.
- Organist: Dr. Jason Roberts, St. Bartholomew's Church, New York, N.Y.
- Residential Venue: Salve Regina University, Newport, R.I.
- Concerts/Services Venues: St. George's School Chapel; Grace Church, Providence, R.I.; St. Joseph's Parish, Newport
- Course Fees: $650 for registrations received by April 1, 2016; $675 for registrations received after April 1, 2016. RSCM members receive a $25 discount
- Contact: Brent Erstad, Course Manager: email@example.com; Jason Abel, course manager: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Course Website: rscmnewport.org
The Rev. Edmund Pickup, Jr., ARSCM delivered this sermon at the 2012 Charlotte Course. Fr. Ed is the Charlotte Course Chaplain and Pastoral Advisor/Chaplain to the RSCM America Board of Directors.
It is my delight to begin by thanking God for all the people who make this course possible. For all the choirmasters, parents, clergy, singers, and supporters in our churches and those of you who have traveled great distances to be here.
Thank God for our musical director this year, Bruce Neswick. I first met Bruce when he directed an RSCM Carolina Boys’ Course in early the 1990s at Belmont Abbey. I remember that twenty years ago Bruce had endless energy and, as far as I could tell, was powered entirely by coffee and nutritional supplements. He is still the same. I have always known of his tremendous talent as a director, teacher, organist, improvisationalist, and composer. But his very best quality is his kind and generous heart. Bruce came to our rescue this year after the sudden death of Dr. Gerry Hancock, who had planned to be our director and who chose the music we are singing today. This Evensong, like every other, is sung to the glory of God, but it is also a tribute from a disciple in loving memory of his teacher.
Thank God for our course co-managers, Tracy and Alan Reed. These RSCM courses are glorious experiences, but they never would happen without hard work and brilliant organization behind the scenes. The summer training courses thrive or die, not because of the brilliant music directors or singers, but because of the remarkable dedication of the course managers year after year.
Thanks be to God for our organist this week, Aaron Goen, from St. Peter’s Episcopal Church here in Charlotte. Besides being a prodigious organist, last year Aaron was the adult housemaster and conducted our adult rehearsals. He has a kind and gentle and yet compelling musical leadership, which not only conveys a skillful technique but also a spirit-filled musicality.
And thanks be to God for the hospitality of all of the kind people of the Myers Park Baptist Church, to St. John’s Episcopal Church for making Alan and Tracy’s ministry to us possible, and of course, to Queens University of Charlotte for their hospitality all week.
And finally, thank God for all of the course staff members who work seamlessly together all week—especially our proctors, who are themselves young professional church musicians, who humbly mentor and nurture our singers all week.
This week, our theme has been “The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Jesus is our Good Shepherd, but simultaneously he is also the sacrificial Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. So we have been looking at sheep and shepherds all week.
Monday, we looked at how Cain, the first farmer, slew Abel, the first shepherd. (Genesis 4:1-16). Then on Tuesday, we looked at the Sacrifice, or in Hebrew the Akedah (the Binding) of Isaac and how the God of Israel rejected the horrific child sacrifice practiced by other religions throughout the Middle East at the time (Genesis 22:1-18). We noted how God provided the sacrificial victim and saved us humans from that duty. We also noted that while God did not require us to sacrifice our children, through human sinfulness and bloodthirstiness, we humans demanded the sacrifice of God’s only begotten child.
Then on Wednesday, we looked at how the hired-hand shepherds, the poorest of agricultural workers, were chosen to be the witnesses of the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 2:1-20). We marveled at how the downward mobility of Jesus (to use Henri Nouwen’s term) began not at his crucifixion but at his birth, when he moved from life in the highest of heavens to the poorest and most vulnerable life in a stable among shepherds in a subjugated country. That is where the great mystery of the Good Shepherd’s downward path of love began.
And on Thursday, we looked at how Jesus is not only the good shepherd, but also the door of the sheep (John 10:1-10). We considered how shepherds laid their bodies down in the gateway of the sheepfolds to keep the sheep safely gathered together and to keep the predators at bay. Analogously, we considered how the body of Christ protects us from spiritual predators and also keeps the church gathered together as one flock. And finally, on Friday, we looked at the restoration of Peter after the resurrection when three times Jesus asks: “Peter, do you love me?” Just like Peter denied Jesus three times, Jesus restores Peter three times and then invites him to assist Jesus in His work of being the good shepherd of his flock (John 21:1-17).
And that brings us to today, when we have the painful comparison of the horribly wicked shepherds from Ezekiel (34:1-10) who ate up their flocks, wasted their wool, failed to feed the sheep, failed to strengthen the weak, failed to heal the sick, failed to seek the lost, and allowed the flock to be scattered and unprotected, devoured by the wild animals.
To that, compare the good shepherd (John 10:11-18) who saves and preserves his flock, feeds them by green pastures, heals the sick, seeks out the lost, and protects the flock from the spiritual predators of wickedness and sin. And not only does Jesus do all of this, but he loves us sheep so much that he lays down his life for us.
To put it mildly, for Jesus to call us his sheep is no big compliment. In preparation for this course, I learned that sheep are not as stupid as their reputation would have us believe. Their encephalization quotient, the comparison of the size of their brains to the size of their bodies, is about the same as horses and cows. Each sheep can recognize up to fifty other sheep faces and recognize the face and voice of their shepherds. Like dogs, sheep can even learn their own names.
But sheep have several unfortunate characteristics. First, they are basically defenseless. With the exception of the rams’ horns, they don’t have much in the way of defensive weaponry at their disposal. Secondly, they are too sociable for their own good. They happily follow a leader who might just be leading them into a disaster. Third, when attacked, they scatter, so that at least one of them is pretty easily picked off. So because they are defenseless, readily led astray, and easy prey, sheep have gotten the unfortunate reputation of being stupid. And for exactly that same reason, they are a pretty good description of us humans as well.
But the good shepherd is our protection, the protection for all of his flock. We live under the self-delusion that there are many churches—Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Congregationalist, Pentecostal and my own flavor, Anglican or Episcopal—just to name a few. But that is a complete self-deception, and we are able to suffer this misunderstanding only because we see the church from the human viewpoint of brokenness and division. But seeing the church from the vantage point of God, there is only one flock, one shepherd. And all of us sheep follow the one voice, although because we’re helpless, easily misled, and not too bright, we hear that voice differently.
I suppose that I see Jesus as having the best qualities of a southerner who, when gob-smacked with our incredible stupidity and felonious ignorance, simply shakes His head and says, “Bless their hearts, they can’t help it.” And knowing exactly how helpless and easily misled we poor sheep are, he simply lays down his life out of love for us. That quiet acceptance and sacrificial love for us pitiful and helpless sheep, in the words of Bishop William How, “is a thing most wonderful, Almost too wonderful to be.” Or in a more ancient text, O magnum mysterium—what a huge mystery. And yet, amazingly enough, it simply is. The love of Jesus just is. Like God’s name is always “I am,” the love of the Good Shepherd always just is.
And so what do we poor sheep do? We do the only thing we can in response to that love. We sing our Good Shepherd’s praise. We each bleat as best as we are able. We offer heart and voice, spirit and mind, and we sing our poor songs. Some of us older pitiful sheep even have huge vibrato in our bleating. But nonetheless, we offer our musical equivalent of the widow’s mite to the ineffable glory of the one who is both our Good Shepherd and the sacrificial Lamb of God. And our pitiful songs, our childish best efforts, God not only accepts, but treasures, cherishes, and proudly hangs on his refrigerator door in heaven. God calls all the saints and angels of the heavenly choir to admire our paltry Evensong offering hanging on his refrigerator door and says “Just look at what my beloved children made for me! They love me too.” Amen.