CORNWALL is fortunate not only to possess a particularly fine Cathedral organ but also many great church instruments throughout the county. Often it seems that there are more organs than organists and this is exactly what the Cornwall Organist Training Scheme (COTS) is going to rectify.

We are looking for people who love the sound of the organ, and have always secretly wanted to try it; but for whatever reason never had the opportunity. Now is your chance!

First of all we hear from a couple of people who have been to Truro Cathedral’s Organ Day – a kind of ‘open house in the organ loft’.

“I have been to the Organ Day twice and played the organ both times. I really like the different keyboards and the big range of sounds they make. I’m doing my piano prep test in December and would like to play the organ too one day.”

Nuala Sellwood, beginner pianist at Bosvigo Primary School


“My journey to the organ came through singing from a very early age in church choirs at home in Toronto, Canada, and boy, what a journey it’s been. The great thing about the organ is that there is so much wonderful music for it – from pieces suitable for the earliest beginner to concert pieces that we all aim at.”

Rachel Mahon, Organ Scholar at Truro Cathedral


“For me the Cornwall Organists’ Training Scheme allows me to access the highest level of tuition in Cornwall that specifically meets my playing needs. This is about my musicianship in the church and includes accompanying congregational singing, anthems. Given the scarcity of organists in Cornwall it is also important for me to have the skills to quickly familiarise myself with different instruments.”

Anton Humphries, organist for various local churches


 The Cornwall Organists’ Training Scheme (COTS)


How does it all work?

There are three strands to COTS – designed for the absolute beginner to the experienced player. It is not necessary to follow all three strands, simply chose whichever elements suit you. The three strands are:

Step-by-step training scheme

This is a short syllabus of about five levels, each introducing more organ playing skills in very gradual step-by-step stages. Stage 1 is designed for people with basic piano and music reading skills and by Stage 5, pedals are used in hymn playing and repertoire.

The syllabus is very detailed and can be found at  then click on Organist Training.

Course of lessons

Luke Bond and Philip Davey are available to offer a course of lessons tailored to the specific needs of the student. This might involve helping with the very early stages of organ playing, selecting stops, introducing pedal playing, and so on; or could involve study of more advanced techniques and repertoire.

There is a fee for the lessons.

Monthly group meetings

We plan to meet about once a month in different churches from different denominations around the county. These will be about 1.5-hour sessions each dedicated to a specific aspect of organ playing – for example, hymn playing, improvising, accompanying worship songs, selecting music for services.

There may also be an opportunity for students to play to each other in a friendly and supportive environment to help with that much-needed confidence, so often in short supply.


2014 Schedule of COTS monthly meetings

January 18  Truro Methodist Church 10.30 – 12.00

February 22  Penzance Catholic Church 10.30 – 12.00

March 22   St Petroc’s, Bodmin 10.30 – 12.00

April 12 Combined meeting with the Cornwall Organists’ Association (afternoon TBC)

May 24   Meeting as part of the Organ Discovery Day at Truro Cathedral (all-day event)

June  Date and venue TBC

Please contact  with any questions about anything at all that you’ve just read.

Download the COTS Organ Poster for your noticeboard here