The American Institute of Organbuilders offers its members an opportunity for professional enrichment through its exams process. Anyone who has been an AIO Regular or Associate member for at least one year is eligible to take this written open-book exam. Topics covered include organbuilding history, contemporary design issues, basic engineering theory, problem solving in a variety of windchest types, pipe construction and voicing, and business acumen.
All of the source material needed for the exam is covered in a syllabus. In addition, members should plan to attend an eight-hour review session conducted each year on the Saturday before the annual AIO convention. Members are then expected to review the material throughout the year before taking the actual exam at the following year’s convention. Since it is an open-book exam, study time can be spent becoming familiar with source materials rather than trying to memorize facts and figures. If convention attendance is not possible, arrangements can be made to take the exam at an alternate location and time.
Certificates are awarded at the close of each annual convention to those who successfully complete the exams. The requirements for each certificate are as follows:
Completion of the written exam with a score of 65% or better.
Completion of the written exam with a score of 80% or better, and presentation of an original instrument design that includes a complete set of drawings, specifications, pipe orders with construction details, a construction timeline, and budget. These need to be complete enough that another builder could build the instrument from them. The applicant needs to be able to defend his or her design orally to the Examination Committee.
This exam deals primarily with the practical side of diagnosing mechanical problems in organs. All types of organ actions are covered, and questions deal with the mechanical quirks of specific (but major) organbuilders’ products. Some basic historical questions are asked that any well-rounded, qualified Service Technician should know. In the “hands-on” portion of this exam, the applicant will be asked to set an equal temperament by ear on a portable voicing machine.