Life Beyond Oundle

When you join a COfO course, you join a family.

We are here for you all year; we don’t just say goodbye when the course ends. We are keen to provide advice about how to pursue organ study at the highest level, whether that’s at university or conservatoire, in the UK or abroad, during a gap year, or after you’ve finished a degree.

Orgnanist Playing

University Organ Scholarships

An organ scholarship is a post in a university or college chapel which is usually held by a student.

Being an organ scholar while at university provides you with a huge variety of experiences as a musician at a young age: how many university-aged students get to make music on an almost daily basis at the high standards achieved in many university and college chapels throughout Britain? Being an organ scholar can prepare you for a musical career (and not just as an organist) – or indeed for any career. You will learn to perform under pressure, and you will be exposed to wonderful music of many centuries. You will develop leadership skills.

You will be part of a peer group that has an interest in music, and you will work with talented Directors of Music – or indeed will be a Director of Music yourself for one or two years. You will learn how to organise your time, to run a music department, to plan a music list, and you will develop a wide range of musical skills.

The skills you develop as an organ scholar will also help you immensely in pursuing a music degree, should you choose to read music at university. If you love music, you will spend three years immersed in it – what could be better? Even if you don’t choose to read music, an organ scholarship will still be a big part of your university experience.

In addition to the collegiate universities of Cambridge, Oxford and Durham, there are also opportunities at Leeds, Bristol, Bath, Royal Holloway, and York, amongst others. Wherever you are thinking about applying, we can help you find a way to continue developing as an organist.


The UK boasts some of the finest conservatoires in the world, many of which have thriving organ departments. And of course, there are a huge number of opportunities for studying abroad. The choice can be bewildering, but COfO can help you sift through your options, put you in touch with the right people, and plot a way forward!

Audition requirements for conservatoires vary, as do the timings of auditions. Many UK conservatoires hold auditions in December, whereas European ones tend to be later in the academic year for entry the following September. It is always a good idea to make contact and meet professors where possible to see where you feel at home.

Some conservatoires also provide flexible programmes of study which you can pursue whilst holding a job, such as an organ scholarship in a cathedral.

Young Organist
Orgnanist Playing 3 Tier

Gap Year Opportunities

Many young musicians can benefit from a gap year taken between school and their next institution of study.

There are cathedral and church organ scholarships throughout the UK which are open to those in their gap year. You can gain some indication of what skills a cathedral or church organ scholarship might require by looking at our videos on organ scholarships (see below). However, keep in mind that all institutions will have different requirements. The RSCM publishes an online list of places which offer organ scholarships here

Some conservatoires offer the opportunity to study for one year during this period. COfO students have also pursued courses of study abroad.

A gap year can provide a student with the invaluable experience of focusing solely on music, after the constant juggle of balancing academic and musical commitments during secondary school. Many students find that their playing improves exponentially during a gap year, and that the extra year helps them approach their next course of study refreshed and with renewed purpose.

Whatever your dream may be, COfO can give you advice and help in pursuing it.

Organ Scholar Films

There’s a lot to learn and prepare, however, in order to secure an organ scholarship and hold it successfully and enjoyably. That’s why COfO and the Royal College of Organists teamed up to produce eight films to tell you all you need to know about organ scholarships.

Orgnanist Student Playing

Further Reading and Resources

Find out more about preparing for an Organ Scholarships by downloading this helpful guide, which we’ve produced in collaboration with the RCO.

A Guide to Organ Scholarships Reading List