Voice for Life & Singing Awards

The Voice for Life training scheme provides a framework for choral singers to develop their vocal skills, their musical understanding and their knowledge of repertoire. It comes with a range of teaching material and supporting resources, and gives plenty of advice on the practicalities of running a choir. Voice for Life is easy to use for both choir trainers and singers and deliberately sets the vocal work of the choir in its musical and wider context.

RSCM Singing Awards celebrate singers’ achievements and progress, through formal examinations at three levels; Bronze, Silver and Gold. Designed to run in parallel to Voice for Life, they affirm the work done by singers and choir trainers in choirs in a standardised way.

‘Singing lies at the heart of worship. Voice for Life has a valuable part to play in giving life and soul to us all as we worship and learn.’

Dr John Rutter, composer and conductor

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An introduction to Voice for Life for Choir Trainers
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Welcome to Voice for Life – a singer’s guide
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Buy Voice for Life Singers' Workbooks
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Voice for Life Choir Trainers Books
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Young Voices Festivals
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Voice for Life Guide to Musicianship downloads

Singing Awards

Bronze/Silver Awards
Bronze/Silver Awards entry
Gold Award downloads
Gold Award entry
Gold Award upcoming session dates
RSCM Awards and COVID

Bronze/Silver Awards

The syllabus and music lists for the Bronze and Silver Awards can be downloaded here:

Syllabus (from 2014)

Music lists (from 2016)

Bronze/Silver Awards entry

Bronze and Silver Award sessions are arranged by local area committees. See events below for upcoming sessions, or visit the relevant Area page.

Gold Award downloads

** UPDATED 27 August 2020: Thank you for your patience. As you will be aware, progress out of lockdown in the UK is tentative, but we are planning for a Gold Award session during November 2020. We expect high demand, and, with circumstances still far from normal, ask that you read the following carefully.

As usual, Representatives who expect to have 3 or more candidates from one RSCM Affiliation should contact examsdesk@rscm.com as soon as possible to discuss an examiner visit.

All 5 documents (Entry Form, Submissions, Music List, Testimonial 1, Testimonial 2) are required, from the Representative, by no later than Thursday 1 October 2020. Nothing “to follow” beyond that date. Entries still incomplete beyond 1 October will be deferred to June 2021.

  • We are extending the 2-year time range for Testimonial 2 to account for lockdown. For Autumn 2020 entry, Testimonial 2 can relate to activity between April 2018 and September 2020.
  • A service outline and prayer contained within the Submission form box is always acceptable. There are no extra marks for congregational service sheets.

Submitting the entry:

  • Email the entry/entries to examsdesk@rscm.com in one email with a subject line of “Gold Award Entry: Candidate Name”. Postal entries cannot be accepted due to risks of Covid-19 transmission, and may anyway be missed due to a lack of office presence. Emailed entries will be acknowledged.
  • Please aim for legibility, ideally completing the Entry Form, Submissions Form, Music List and Programme Notes within a word processor and emailing either the electronic documents or a pdf. Scans are acceptable, but must be clearly legible.

A link for online payment will be sent to the Representative making the entry after the entry has been checked and accepted.


Materials for entering the Gold Award can be downloaded here:

Syllabus (from 2016)

Entry form

Music list form

Submissions form

Entries must be submitted complete with ALL documentation.

Marking criteria

Gold Award entry

Each year there is a ‘summer’ and an ‘autumn’ exam session, with entry deadline dates of 1 May and 1 October respectively. Please read the message below, and then find the entry documents on the GOLD AWARD DOWNLOADS button, and the regional dates (by Friday 18 September 2020 latest) on the GOLD AWARD UPCOMING SESSION DATES button.


** UPDATED 27 August 2020: Thank you for your patience. As you will be aware, progress out of lockdown in the UK is tentative, but we are planning for a Gold Award session during November 2020. We expect high demand, and, with circumstances still far from normal, ask that you read the following carefully.

As usual, Representatives who expect to have 3 or more candidates from one RSCM Affiliation should contact examsdesk@rscm.com as soon as possible to discuss an examiner visit.

All 5 documents (Entry Form, Submissions, Music List, Testimonial 1, Testimonial 2) are required, from the Representative, by no later than Thursday 1 October 2020. Nothing “to follow” beyond that date. Entries still incomplete beyond 1 October will be deferred to June 2021.

  • We are extending the 2-year time range for Testimonial 2 to account for lockdown. For Autumn 2020 entry, Testimonial 2 can relate to activity between April 2018 and September 2020.
  • A service outline and prayer contained within the Submission form box is always acceptable. There are no extra marks for congregational service sheets.

Submitting the entry:

  • Email the entry/entries to examsdesk@rscm.com in one email with a subject line of “Gold Award Entry: Candidate Name”. Postal entries cannot be accepted due to risks of Covid-19 transmission, and may anyway be missed due to a lack of office presence. Emailed entries will be acknowledged.
  • Please aim for legibility, ideally completing the Entry Form, Submissions Form, Music List and Programme Notes within a word processor and emailing either the electronic documents or a pdf. Scans are acceptable, but must be clearly legible.

A link for online payment will be sent to the Representative making the entry after the entry has been checked and accepted.

Gold Award upcoming session dates

** UPDATED 17 September 2020: Thank you for your patience. As you will be aware, progress out of lockdown in the UK is tentative, but we are planning for a Gold Award session during November 2020. We expect high demand, and, with circumstances still far from normal, ask that you read the following carefully.

As usual, Representatives who expect to have 3 or more candidates from one RSCM Affiliation should contact examsdesk@rscm.com as soon as possible to discuss an examiner visit.

All 5 documents (Entry Form, Submissions, Music List, Testimonial 1, Testimonial 2) are required, from the Representative, by no later than Thursday 1 October 2020. Nothing “to follow” beyond that date. Entries still incomplete beyond 1 October will be deferred to June 2021.

  • We are extending the 2-year time range for Testimonial 2 to account for lockdown. For Autumn 2020 entry, Testimonial 2 can relate to activity between April 2018 and September 2020.
  • A service outline and prayer contained within the Submission form box is always acceptable. There are no extra marks for congregational service sheets.

Submitting the entry:

  • Email the entry/entries to examsdesk@rscm.com in one email with a subject line of “Gold Award Entry: Candidate Name”. Postal entries cannot be accepted due to risks of Covid-19 transmission, and may anyway be missed due to a lack of office presence. Emailed entries will be acknowledged.
  • Please aim for legibility, ideally completing the Entry Form, Submissions Form, Music List and Programme Notes within a word processor and emailing either the electronic documents or a pdf. Scans are acceptable, but must be clearly legible.

A link for online payment will be sent to the Representative making the entry after the entry has been checked and accepted.


Dates and regions for the next Gold Award session will be published here two weeks before the closing date for entries (1st May and 1st October each year). Dates cannot be guaranteed, and are dependent upon at least 3 Gold Award candidates indicating they are available on the date shown and in that region.

Entries must be submitted complete with ALL documentation.

Autumn 2020 dates are as follows:

Date (2020) Region
7 November (Sat) North London
9 November (Mon) Yorkshire & the Humber
9 November (Mon) South West
11 November (Wed) Central South
12 November (Thu) West Midlands
13 November (Fri) North West
13 November (Fri) Scotland
14 November (Sat) East of England
16 November (Mon) North East
17 November (Tue) North Wales
18 November (Wed) South London
19 November (Thu) South East (Berks., Bucks. & Oxon.)
21 November (Sat) East Midlands
21 November (Sat) South Wales

Write your choice of region in Box 5 of your Gold Award application form. Regions and dates as listed here are subject to change, depending on the number of candidates requesting each venue, so don’t forget to mention any impossible dates in Box 6 too. Exact locations and final timetables for each session are confirmed after the entry deadline, once all the candidates’ details are known. Due to the present crisis it may be 4 weeks before we are able to confirm an appointment and travel may need to be further than the 80 miles advised on p. 3 of the syllabus. Gold Award candidates in Ireland should contact their regional coordinator, Elena Henriquez (ehenriquez@rscm.com).

RSCM Awards and COVID

Determining whether an RSCM Voice for Life exam may proceed depends upon the coronavirus restrictions in place in the area where the exam venue is situated and the home location of exam staff, on the proposed day of the exam.

  • Candidates and Accompanists who live in an area under different coronavirus restrictions to the area in which the exam is taking place are responsible for checking and obeying their local travel rules and should contact their Awards Administrator if travel-restricted.
  • Exam session Supervisors who live in an area under different coronavirus restrictions to the area in which the exam is taking place are responsible for checking and obeying their local travel rules and should contact their Awards Administrator if travel-restricted.
  • In the event that an Examiner becomes travel-restricted, RSCM centre will attempt to find a substitute, but this may be impossible in the time available. In this event exams will be deferred or a refund offered.

Restrictions that apply under current national terminologies have been interpreted as follows:

England

If a venue is in Local COVID Alert Level Very High (known as ‘Tier 3’), or above, on the proposed day of the exam, the exam must be postponed. If the assigned Examiner lives in a Tier 3 area they are deemed travel-restricted and the above bullet point applies.

Northern Ireland

No exams can take place until further notice.

Republic of Ireland

No exams can take place at the Framework for Restrictive Measures Level 3 or above.

Scotland

No exams can take place until further notice.

Wales

Exams cannot take place during the firebreak restrictions from 6pm Friday 23 October. Local restrictions will be assessed for viability by RSCM Centre once this period has ended.

All Areas

If a Gold exam session cannot take place it can be deferred in the first instance to a proposed session in Spring 2021. This session will be for entries accepted to the November 2020 session only. Candidates and their Applicants/Representatives should refer to the additional regulations for Covid-safe exams held by their Awards Administrators.

FAQs

Q.  How does Voice for Life work?

A. There are five Voice for Life levels; white, light blue, dark blue, red and yellow. Each level has graded targets which the choir trainer or teacher assesses. Once a singer has completed the necessary training for that level, reached the targets and finished their workbook, they can be awarded their RSCM Voice for Life medal and the appropriately coloured ribbon (for robed choirs) or coloured lapel badge (for non-robed choirs). They then move on to the next level.

Medals, ribbons and badges can be bought from RSCM Music Direct.

Q.  How do Singing Awards fit in with Voice for Life?

A. White, Light Blue and Dark Blue help a candidate prepare for their Bronze award, Red for the Silver award, and Yellow for the Gold award.

Q.  What is taught in Voice for Life?

A. Module A: Using the voice well
This module teaches singers how to develop good vocal technique. It begins by helping singers get used to the physical sensations of healthy vocal technique, and in the later levels develops their understanding of the physiology of the voice.

Module B: Musical skills and understanding
This module develops knowledge of music theory and notation, and then encourages singers to demonstrate this understanding through sight-singing and aural skills.

Module C: Repertoire
This module develops a good understanding of the musical and historical contexts of the music performed by the choir or individual singer. It also gives singers the opportunity to demonstrate the musical understanding they gain in Module B through simple musical analysis.

Module D: Belonging to the choir
This module considers the wider issues related to being part of a choir, including commitment, punctuality and responsibility and how singers can be encouraged to make a good contribution.

Module E: Choir in context
This module encourages singers to explore the wider context of its choir’s existence: Why do they sing in that particular choir? Why does the choir exist? For whom does it sing? How does the choir benefit its members and those outside the choir?

Q.  Is Voice for Life suitable for adult singers?

A. Absolutely! Voice for Life is designed to be suitable for singers of all ages. The language used is clear and straightforward, but is not directed at a particular age group.

Q.  Does every singer have to start with White level?

A. Definitely not! Some singers will enter the programme with previous vocal or instrumental experience, so it is important that they start at the level which best suits them.

Q.  There’s too much to fit into my choir’s schedule already – how can I fit Voice for Life in too?

A. Much of the training will become part of your usual rehearsal time; for example, the vocal exercises can be incorporated at the beginning of your rehearsal as warm-ups or to break up the rehearsal, and you can provide training on posture, breathing, diction, etc. Module C can be explored simply through the music you sing each week. And bear in mind that choir trainers don’t necessarily have to do the training themselves – why not involve a senior member of your choir in aspects of the teaching?

Q.  What if a singer doesn’t want to take the awards?

A. That’s fine! Voice for Life can be used on its own to provide training and motivation to singers within a choir. There is no need to take the awards if your singer is unhappy about undertaking such formal assessments.

Q.  What resources and supporting materials are available?

A. Five singer workbooks and three books for choir trainers are the core programme materials. You can also buy medals, badges, certificates and wall-charts to mark your singers’ progress. All Voice for Life products are available at a discounted rate to RSCM affiliates and individual/student members from RSCM Music Direct.

We have recently introduced a raft of digital Voice for Life materials hosted on the Showbie platform. These materials are designed to help candidates understand the breadth of information they need, and to help them learn on their own. Further information on these materials and how to access them will be found on the following page: Showbie Training Materials.