Devon Area

Resourcing and encouraging your church's music for worship

RSCM Devon is a thriving part of the work of the Royal School of Church Music, an ecumenical body which is committed to achieving the best use of good music in worship – whatever the resources, whatever the styles.

We seek to serve churches of every denomination and musical tradition and to organise training sessions and special services and events which will give church musicians the skills and resources they need to lift and inspire the worship of their churches through the gift of music.

Members of affiliated choirs and music groups, individual members and Friends to receive these benefits:

  • Regular information about Area and regional events by email, in addition to publicity in ‘The Network’ national handbook published quarterly.
  • Quarterly issues of the informative national CMQ magazine
  • Discounts at RSCM Devon events, and when purchasing music from the RSCM Shop
  • The support of local and national advisers who make visits and lend their expertise where required. Music leaders, organists and choir directors can call on advice and support, as can clergy and church leaders when problems arise.
  • Knowing that you are part of a national and regional body which seeks to improve the quality and effectiveness of church music at every level.

Click here to join our mailing list and download current and past e-Newsletters


Updated Guidance for Choirs

Covid-19 resources for churches

Last updated: Thursday 24 September 2020

Following the latest government and church guidance, the RSCM has made a number of supporting documents available for churches to use as they plan how to incorporate music into their worship again. Resources available to download below include a risk assessment template, models for playing and singing in churches and an FAQ document.

This page will be updated regularly in accordance with the latest guidance. Please click on this link to view the guidance and additional resources.

Devon Area News

Greetings to everyone connected with RSCM Devon and welcome to our Newsletter for September 2020. I hope that you have escaped the pandemic unscathed. It has certainly been a strange time and there have been many, many people who have told me that they have been missing their singing.

Music in Services

We are now allowed singing groups of up to 15 people, suitable distanced, but congregational singing is still not permitted.

There are many things that we can do to use singing in services:

  1. Why not suggest that the congregation might hum along with a tune? If they also have the words they can at least think about what they would otherwise have been singing.
  2. Ask one member of the choir to be a cantor, to sing a hymn or two and a song as an anthem. A little bit of prior work is advised, as this can be quite daunting.
  3. Use the building. In other words there’s probably a place or two where you can site a few singers at a suitable distance from the congregation. Singing in an unfamiliar place and at a little more distance from each other can be quite challenging, so practising is advised.
  4. Try using more unison or two-part anthems, and don’t be always tied to singing hymns in four parts: if you’re distanced it’s easier to sing in unison, and to obtain some variety don’t forget the idea of using groups of voices or solos for some verses.
  5. As the congregation don’t have anything to sing it’s a good idea to allow them to say, for example, the Gloria and Sanctus of the communion service rather than have a sung setting.
  6. Recorded music is an option, but please check on the copyright position on whatever you use.

Area Events

It is with very great regret that we have to announce that we will not be able to run the Area Festival Service this year. The position with regard to the virus seems to be improving gradually, but the Devon Area Committee feel that the safety of all our members and friends must be our top priority. We are confident that we will be able to run a very successful Festival in October 2021.

It is also with great regret that we heard the Buckfast Abbey are not hosting any events before Christmas, so our ever-popular Advent Carol Service will also not be able to take place this year.

It is possible that if restrictions ease in the next couple of months there may be some locally-organised Advent Carol Services, and if so I will keep you informed of them.


RSCM Re-Organisation

RSCM have for the last year or so been consulting on a new way of organising areas and regions. The background to this is a desire to resource events better, and also to gain more accountability for safeguarding and finance.

The new organisation will see Regional Managers (who will be part-time paid employees), with the Area Committee replaced with an Area Team. Heading the Team will be an Area Team Leader (volunteer), supported by Secretary, Treasurer and Diocesan Representative. Further members can be co-opted to cover other responsibilities.

I am informed that Regional Managers have been appointed, but I don’t yet know who they are. The Regional Manager (by the way, the plan was for us to be in a region stretching from the West Midlands to Lands End), will find someone to be Area Team Leader, and the four main roles of the Area Team will be officially appointed by RSCM.

In order for this to be put in place, RSCM have instructed that there will be no RSCM area events from January to March (2021) inclusive.

However, we are hoping that there will be events around the area which you can attend. These will be administered by local churches rather than RSCM Devon, but the personnel will be much the same. I propose to use this RSCM contacts list to inform you of these. If you wish to be deleted from either the postal or email list, please let me know.

Implications for the future

  1. We don’t as yet know who will be on the Area Team. I hope that you will be contacted as soon as the membership is determined.
  2. I hope that events going forward will be very much like we have so far promoted, with more training for singers and instrumentalists.
  3. Award exams will now be administered from Salisbury. In the past the Devon Area Committee have thought it important to encourage these exams and have subsidised the costs. Unfortunately this will not be able to continue.

If you wish to enter for an exam you will need to do so online via the RSCM national website.

  1. If anyone wants to enter for an exam this term, please let me know and I will make the arrangements.



If you are currently on the postal mailing, please let me know if you can access emails. It may be that even if you don’t have email there may be someone else in your church who can keep you informed of what’s going on. The advantage is that there would normally be only 2 postal mailings per year, whereas emails can be updated whenever there is a new event.

Wishing you all the best for the next few months,

Nicholas Brown

Little Pitt Cottage, Whitchurch Canonicorum, Bridport, DT6 6RG




Advent Carol Service at Buckfast Cancelled

Sadly another cancellation, but Buckfast Abbey have cancelled all their musical activities until at least the end of the year, so our Advent Carol Service will not be taking place in 2020.

Resumption of Singing FAQ

Following recent guidance from the government and C of E, RSCM Centre have published information on the resumption of choir and solo singing in church services.  Congregational singing is still not permitted.

The information may be viewed  and  downloaded here.

2020 Events Update

The Area Committee and I hope that you have stayed virus-free in these worrying times. With the continued health and safety of RSCM Devon members and friends in mind, we have reluctantly decided that we cannot run the Area Festival this year. With luck (and possibly with the assistance of a vaccine) we hope to run next year’s Festival ad usual.
We are still hoping that we might be able to run some sort of Advent Carol Service at Buckfast, but we’re waiting on developments nationally, locally and of course on the position at the Abbey itself. I will let you know the position as soon as it is clear.
Nicholas Brown
Area Chairman

RSCM Music Sunday 14th June, 6pm

I hope you’re all coping in this strange situation we find ourselves in.
If you fancy joining a large group of people singing on Music Sunday, then follow this link for a recording of the RSCM Big Music Sunday Service which took place on 14th June.
Best wishes to you all – and I’ll let you know when live events can start up again.
Nicholas Brown
(RSCM Devon Area Chairman)


With restrictions on group activities and the use of churches in place, there have been fewer than usual RSCM Devon activities this year.

However, in the hope that restrictions may be eased by the Autumn, we are still planning to hold our Annual Festival at Exeter Cathedral on Saturday 24th October, but to run the event as a “Come & Sing Evensong,” as participating choirs will not have had the time to prepare in the usual way. We also plan to hold the Advent Carol Service at Buckfast on Saturday 28th November.

Meanwhile, RSCM Centre has provided on their website some resources to help with worship in these difficult times.

Welcome to our new website

We have redesigned the RSCM Devon Area website with a fresh new look but keeping its  layout and navigation simple.

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