Who is eligible:
• Students in grades 7 and up, as well as adults
• A good piano background
• An interest in the organ
• Has allocated time for practice each week
• Is someone who would benefit from a year of organ instruction
The Potomac Organ Institute (POI) is a scholar's program supported by the Trichapter Committee of the three Washington, DC metro area chapters of the American Guild of Organists (AGO): Potomac, MD; Washington, DC; and Northern Virginia. It is staffed by local teachers and coordinators who volunteer their time and talents to encourage pianists to begin studying the organ and to increase awareness for the need for well trained organists in the field today. Students are selected by an audition and interview that takes place annually. Pianists in the seventh grade to adults are encouraged to apply.
The Potomac Organ Institute was founded in 1988 by Elizabeth de Ayala, DMA with the help of Maureen Jais-Mick and other members of the Potomac AGO Chapter. Their vision, to interest people in the field of church music through instruction on the pipe organ, has been faithfully transformed by the POI into one of the most productive means for increasing the ranks of church organists in our area.
Most of the talented pianists and beginning organists who enter the POI make remarkable progress during the year of free instruction they receive from local artists. Graduates of the POI often wish to continue developing their newfound organ skills by continuing study with a private teacher, as well as through colleges and universities. Over the years, the POI has received feedback from former students expressing appreciation of the start they received through the POI scholarship and are putting their organ skills to use in part-time to full-time church music positions.
The success of the POI can indeed be attributed to the quality of organ teachers we have in the National Capital Region and the generous amount of time they devote to their students. In addition, the Chapters provide membership in AGO to the students. Auditions for prospective students are held annually and accepted scholars receive one year of free organ instruction from a volunteer Tri-Chapter Guild member with lessons from September through June. Students also participate in master classes, a POI spring recital, become members of their local AGO chapter, and receive a complimentary subscription to The American Organist.