Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Here is what we'll be singing:
Entrance: Joy to the World
Kyrie VIII / Gloria VIII
Responsorial Psalm (Arlene's Mode IV alt version from Chabanel)
Simple chanted Alleluia
Offertory: Behold a Virgin Bearing Him
Ave Maria (chant)
Sanctus XVIII / Agnus Dei XVIII
Communion: Viderunt omnes (we're doing seasonal Communion chants still... not up to learning new for each week yet... but give us time)
Closing: What Child is This
This past week at rehearsal we began learning a few new things... we worked primarily on a new Ad libitum Communion chant -- Qui manducat. We also worked a bit on Anima Christi. I'd like to begin singing it as a post-communion chant as a weekly occurrence very soon.
I am playing and singing for a wedding on January 10th. I haven't done this in awhile, so I had to really dig to find all my old music. Well... I found it and had it all in one stack. I took it to church with the intention of letting the couple hear and choose from the various things I think I may still be able to play. And... disaster! I cannot find it anywhere... at first I thought I had just tucked it safely away somewhere in the house (if you would see how not neat my home is lately, you would understand how that could be). I think I must have left it at the church, where it was disposed of by helpful cleaning people.
I spent last weekend online looking for Wedding collections with the same basic music I used as standards (and for which the music is now gone). So... two new books (and the Messiah octavo I have wanted for awhile) are on order and should be in by Friday. No stress, right?
As this year ends and the new year begins, I am so very thankful for all the blessings I have and don't deserve. My children, husband and I are healthy, happy, comfortable, warm, members of a wonderful parish with family and friends we love. My children are sprouting up like little olive trees (can't remember the Bible reference) and God continues to show us His love and protection.
May God bless you... see you next year!
Thursday, December 25, 2008
I have successfully moved my files from the hubby's computer to mine... software is installed... everything is working beautifully. Perhaps I'll be a bit more regular at posting now that it will be much more convenient.
Christmas Vigil Mass was very nice at San Mateo. Father Bob was (as always) wonderful... the Mass was solemn and reverent... incense, sung prayers... it was joyful and peaceful. Our little schola did a nice job. Because I forgot to tell them, they were unsure a few times just how we were going to do things. Fr. Bob had a few changes he wanted me to make right before Mass, and I forgot to tell them. They are pretty flexible, though, and stayed with me! I am so enjoying singing with these wonderful people. Can't wait for the other new things we'll be learning in the new year.
Te Deum Laudamus!
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
We do have the opportunity to say something to the bishops by withholding donations this time around, however. There are many other ways to support and aid the poor. We should be good stewards of the gifts God has given us and find charities that are in line with Catholic teaching. I personally have some I like very much. Edmundite Missions, Mercy Home, local parish food drives, etc. I also like supporting various cloistered religious orders, such as the Poor Clares (there is a wonderful monastery in Roswell, NM) and Benedictines (Clear Creek Monastery is one of my personal favorites).
Thursday, November 20, 2008
My path to appreciation of Gregorian chant: I only had a vague idea of it, having never actually heard it (that I could recall) in my growing up years. Yet, when still living in the mountains east of Albuquerque, I began to start looking for information about it. I ordered two books from GIA (ironically, I later discovered that those initials stood for Gregorian Institute of America -- perhaps GIA will find its way back to its roots someday). I purchased the book Cantus Selecti and a book about learning to read the notation. After attempting to figure out the notation on my own, I gained an intellectual understanding of its theory. I got nowhere, however, in practical application and being able to really sing any of the lovely music I had in the Cantus Selecti book.
Another move... to New Orleans. While there, I began to ask if there were any groups that sang chant in the hope that I could learn from someone who actually knew it. I found a professional group of women who sang with the Musica da Camera of New Orleans. They didn't really sing chant exclusively, but were focused on all early music and medieval instrumentation. I sang with them only a short while, but was completely hooked when we first sang the Te Deum at one of our concerts. We actually used square-note notation and even a bit of organum.
Hurricane Katrina hits... we are off to Shreveport. There, with a group of like-minded individuals, we started our own schola. I soon discovered a support system in the Church Music Association of America (CMAA) and was off and running. The rest is history. Mine is a rather convoluted journey that took quite a bit of time. I didn't know anything about the holiness of it in the liturgy. I knew nothing of the history of it in the church. Although I was fairly unhappy with the general musical fare in the Catholic parishes I had attended, I really didn't know what the alternative would be. I didn't even know why I was looking for it. It was all a wonderful surprise for me when I found out how great it is.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Chant: Ft. Worth Schola Gregoriana continues to work on preparing for Advent. We will begin singing at the 10 am Mass every week at San Mateo beginning on Nov. 30th. The pastor there, Fr. Bob Stritmatter, is a wonderful pastor, spiritual director and an inspiration. In this rather small mission parish we have a true jewel. On his recommendation, I recently obtained and read a book called Why Catholics Can't Sing, by Thomas Day. I know the book is not a new resource, but found so many parts of it to be very informative to me (as well as a bit humorous). I particularly loved the part where he mentioned that he had noticed a very definite resemblance in the melody used for the well-known contemporary piece I Have Loved You and the Theme Song for the Brady Bunch. The author's point about the loss of holiness and reverence in the Mass in many places was well-made. Fr. Bob is already doing his part to make the Mass holy and reverent. We shall try our best to be a small part of it with our schola.
San Mateo Children's Choir: At the request of one of the parishioners (who donates a huge amount of his time to various parish work, including teaching the students for Confirmation, assisting in training altar servers... and a whole long list of other things), I have begun directing a children's choir for the parish. I have about 14 children who stay after their regular catechism classes to sing with me. I am getting my reward immediately working with these beautiful children. They are wonderful. We are working now toward learning music that will be part of a Christmas "posada", or enactment of the Christmas story. We plan to sing the following well-known pieces:
O Come, All Ye Faithful,
Angels We Have Heard On High
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Away in a Manger
In addition to those, we are also working on three pieces from the Story of Redemption in Chant that is available on the Musicasacra site. With those three pieces, the children will become familiar with three traditional chant hymn melodies (which have been used to tell a portion of the story of Christmas in English).
I am also using a bit of the Ward method in teaching the children the beginnings of solfege. We are using the arm signals for the different notes so far. They do a wonderful job of singing on pitch especially when we are singing solfege.
This past week I also taught them the very simple Kyrie that we have been using at Mass, the Kyrie from Mass XV. They picked it up very quickly!
Other stuff: The weather has been wonderful here in North Texas the past few weeks... crisp and clear and perfect. This is my favorite time of year. I've been inspired to pull out my knitting needles and have finished four pairs of socks in the past few weeks, as well as new knitted hats for the boys, two tea cozies, and two sweaters. I also just finished sewing a quilt-top that is intended to be a wedding gift for a German cousin of my husband's. My mother-in-law will do the hand-quilting for it, so it will be a team effort. The boys are doing well with their schoolwork, learning well and getting their schoolwork done with a minimum of fuss. I wish I could say it is going quickly each day, but many days it has been lasting much longer than I would hope (thus the many knitting projects).
Book Club: I joined the local Catholic Women's Book Club and have been greatly enjoying it. We had a book this month that was a real treat: Humility, by Dietrich von Hildebrand. Although it is small in size, I can't say that it is an easy or quick read. It inspired a lot of reflection by me and the other members of the group. At the same time, I also picked up a book called Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence. That one I have especially enjoyed. It gave me an entirely new perspective on Divine Providence and the things that happen to us in life.
My reading otherwise is far behind. The First Things magazines are piled up for me to read... I got through the most recent issue today... as I said... so much to do, so little time.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
We started to work on:
Resonet in laudibus
We'll have plenty of opportunity to use them in the Christmas season. Our schola is settling in to a group of about 5-6 women right now. Although we have had many others come and go, the number has settled (for now, anyway) at a very nice and somewhat easy to manage number. Once we begin singing at Mass regularly, I expect it will generate a bit more interest again. At this point, I am just going to focus on getting us ready with the group we have.
I have also been asked to lead a small children's choir in getting ready for Christmas at the parish. I will be having the first practice this coming Monday. I am going to use a couple of the chant pieces from the Story of Redemption in Chant. I love this little booklet that CMAA has posted for free download and had been wishing for an opportunity to use it. So... I will attempt to use a few of the Ward method techniques with the children in teaching them some of the basics of pitch-matching and solfege. It will have to be very limited, of course, given the time I have to work with. We will also sing a handful of Christmas carols, which should be familiar to many. I wrote a little program out for planning purposes.
Life is chugging along :)
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Introit: Ad te levavi
Communion: Dominus dabit
Advent Hymn: Rorate
Our work continued with the ordinaries we will be using during Advent, as well as a solfege exercise. Turnout was a bit light, perhaps due to the holiday.
This evening, I was fortunate to be invited to give a short workshop to the choir members at St. Mary of the Assumption. They were very quick to pick it up. I am hoping I was able to help them in their future chant endeavors. We went over some basics of the chant notation, rhythmic groups, as well as singing three different ordinaries. They were: Sanctus XVIII, Agnus Dei XVIII and Agnus Dei XVII.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
I will definitely be giving my donations to the bishop's funds more thought next time around. I'm all for helping the needy. Paying individuals to commit fraud in our political process does not qualify in my opinion.
Interestingly, the "Program Area" listed for these various grants varied a fair amount. Most were related to "Community Organizing" and related to "Neighborhood Improvement" and "Civil Rights/Racism".
Geographical area served Amount
San Francisco, CA $30,000.00
San Mateo, CA $35,000.00
San Bernardino, CA $30,000.00
Oakland, CA $30,000.00
Contra Costa, CA $35,000.00
Fresno, CA $30,000.00
Houston, TX $25,000.00
Ft. Worth, TX $25,000.00
El Paso, TX $25,000.00
Irving, TX $25,000.00
New Mexico $25,000.00
Pulaski, Arkansas $25,000.00
Tucson, AZ $20,000.00
Mesa, AZ $30,000.00
Phoenix, AZ $30,000.00
Northwestern Indiana $36,000.00
Indianapolis, IN $35,000.00
Raleigh, NC $25,000.00
Louisville, KY $25,000.00
Central FL $30,000.00
Hialeah, FL $25,000.00
Broward County, FL $20,000.00
Allegheny, PA $25,000.00
Harrisburg, PA $25,000.00
Lehigh, PA $20,000.00
Columbus, OH $25,000.00
Cleveland, OH $30,000.00
Cincinnati, OH $25,000.00
Paterson, NJ $40,000.00
Metuchen, NJ $25,000.00
Grand Rapids, MI $25,000.00
Rhode Island $25,000.00
Boston, MA $25,000.00
For a Grand total of $1,111,000.00
Did you know that the Catholic Bishops' Conference gave $1M to Acorn? I didn't... and it does not make me happy to know that money I have given in support of the bishops' programs has gone to this group. Obviously they are not just a non-partisan group just interested in getting more people registered to vote and exercise their rights. Their radical socialist agenda is unmistakable.
See the entire article and video by Deal Hudson here: http://insidecatholic.com/Joomla/index.php?option=com_myblog&show=Bishop-s-Conference-Gave-Acorn-Over-1-000-000-in-2007.html&Itemid=127
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Father Bristow has a wonderful singing voice... a very deep bass that found us searching out our lowest chest voice for responses! The men's schola sang the Requiem Introit, the Communion Proper for funerals and In Paradisum and did a very nice job. The polyphony was a treat. The singers were very talented (some college music majors among them) and easy to sing with. I'm hoping to get to hear recordings that were made of the day. For more information, check out Richard's blog at: http://stmaryoftheassumption.blogspot.com/.
Thanks, Richard, for the corrections.
They very clearly lay out the information for the Catholics in their flocks with which they can inform their consciences in accordance with Church teaching. I was most pleased to see this and happy to know that they are speaking out in this crucial time in an election year.
Pray for an end to abortion!
HT to James at Opinionated Catholic.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
In working with folks where we lived before, I found that many had no idea what they would be doing when they said they would like to learn Gregorian chant. They had no idea of just how different the music is in the singing style, notation, solfege, rhythmic markings, etc (neither did I, for that matter). As we went along, many found that either the time commitment required was too great, or that it just wasn't their thing. Many who started out with us didn't continue over time.
So... I am gathering a very large group of beginners here... we'll throw a lot of mud on the wall and see what sticks! I ordered 10 more copies of the Parish Book of Chant (PBC). I am thinking I will be getting the new edition this time around, because the availability date was November. With this new batch of books, it will make 25 copies that I will have either distributed or will distribute here. I'll be giving one copy to the local pastor out of this next batch and one to the director of the schola in Louisiana... Let's just think... if each of the 45 or so Chant Intensive attendees distributed 10-20 copies each year and taught that many people the rudiments of singing the ordinaries and a few hymns... in only a few years we'll have our Catholic community growing and learning right along with us...
What if every Colloquium attendee did this?
While I am making copies of certain pieces and marking them with the rhythmic markings and notes in advance of rehearsals now, my plan is to move more and more to using the PBC and teaching them how to mark their own music (in pencil) in the books and to make them their own. Perhaps in the future we'll only need to make copies of propers and a few other pieces that aren't in the book.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
This is our heritage... we have to regain it for ourselves and our children!
Thursday, October 2, 2008
I shared a little information that I gleaned from Scott Turkington's course this past summer. I showed them the method he used in teaching us new propers...
... proper Latin pronunciation
... Ictus marking (we went over the main four rules that are also in the back of the Parish book of Chant -- p. 175)
... Singing the chant using solfege
... Singing the chant with rhythmic counting -- groups of 2's and 3's.
... Putting it all together... Latin and notes.
I may have changed the order a bit, but I think all the steps are there. They picked it up very quickly and I think it will help them in the future more as they get used to it.
I was so very impressed with these men and can see that the future of Sacred Music in the parishes will be improved by their participation and the spreading of the chant by them in the years to come. I was so happy to get to see them in action! For more information about this group and their singing schedule, check out their blogsite here: http://stmaryoftheassumption.blogspot.com/ .
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
The main reason this would be of interest would be for those who like accompanied chant (organ accompaniment). With this set of volumes, very nice settings of the organ accompaniment will be available for virtually all propers for the liturgical church year.
That being said, I personally prefer the chant to be sung without accompaniment, which I believe to be ideal. Plus, without a very well-trained organist (and one who is especially well-versed in how the chant is sung), trying to use accompaniment can be disastrous. But... for those who are in the know about organ accompaniment of the chant, this is the best arrangement out there. It is amazing that it is now to be made available for free TO THE WORLD at the CMAA website. Check out the samples that are available now: http://chabanelpsalms.org/introductory_material/NOH_ex.htm
Please consider making a donation to support this and other worthy projects to the Church Music Association here. To donate to the Chabanel Psalm project, you can make an easy donation (even small amounts are helpful) here.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Of the five more Parish Book of Chant copies I have ordered, three are already spoken for... Since we have had new folks each time, I have found myself covering the same ground each week in some ways. I don't want the newcomers to feel lost about understanding the notation, etc., so I rehash the basics each time.
Next week, we begin work on solfege in earnest. I'm planning to bring some practice sheets and will begin our session with some of that. We are still working on the ordinaries for the Mass.
We will work toward being ready to sing at Mass beginning in Advent. There are so many wonderful chant hymns for the season. It will be very nice.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
I see a great opportunity in the diocese to gradually let more and more parts of the liturgy include Gregorian chant. Whether it is by having the schola sing the communion proper each week so that the parishioners get used to the sound of the chant, or by gradually teaching them chanted ordinaries, I think this growing interest will be shared by the parishioners as they learn more about it.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Over the course of ten days, we were able to see all of them, along with assorted in laws and nieces and nephews, to the great satisfaction of our boys. We visited the Natural History Museum in Denver (which has sparked a huge interest in rocks and minerals, as well as feeding the interest in dinosaurs). We also visited the Denver mint, where we saw how the coins are made there. It so happened that we also got to hear a Medal of Honor winner, Drew Dix, speak at the middle school where one of my nephews is a student. I really enjoyed the entire event and was very pleased to see the emphasis on patriotism and the feeling of gratitude being taught to those students toward our military men and women.
It was a pretty long drive, but we got a lot of visiting family done in a pretty short time... it was a great trip.
We ended our rehearsal by praying the Ave Maria (in Latin, of course).
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Monday, September 8, 2008
We started out with some basic solfege and warm-ups, followed by the Kyrie XI, taught without music first. After we had the basic melody down pretty well, we sat down and looked over the notation. I was able to give a short lesson in neume-reading and square-note theory. We also went over the Sanctus XVIII and Agnus Dei XVIII, which were at least somewhat familiar to all.
Much discussion about the plans for the group and possibilities for the future took place along the way. Members of the growing schola are all thinking of others they want to invite to join us... we may end up with a larger group yet before long. I had brought along several copies of the Parish Book of Chant -- four of them wanted to buy their own copies this evening... I hope I run completely out and need to order another ten!
We talked about how our little group differs from what else is already out there... I think we have a niche here that we can help to fill in the diocese. Currently, at the cathedral, they do a pretty nice job of singing the same Sanctus and Agnus Dei from setting XVIII. They have also (from what I have heard) done other chant pieces from time to time with the regular choir. The local EF Mass schola does a lovely job of singing for the high Mass every 2nd and 4th Sunday here. The members seem to be very experienced and have a really nice sound.
The thing that I think is different about our little group is our focus on bringing chant to a Novus Ordo Mass. Also, the focus of our group is going to be more toward an ever-expanding role of chant in the liturgy, rather than the mixture of music types that is typically found with a traditional choir. With any luck, I'll have a few members who run with this and work to learn the notation well enough to be future Chant Intensive attendees... things are looking up in Ft. Worth.
I also have a meeting with another pastor, and a couple of the music directors for that parish this week... I hope to get permission to place my advertising flyers in the parish for our little schola and also to open the door for the possibility of singing there with our little group later on as our skills progress.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
First bit of good news: as of today, we have a very good centrally-located rehearsal location at one of the Ft. Worth parishes. The pastor spoke with me for quite a long while about our hopes for the future of the schola and was very supportive and helpful. I think we could potentially sing at the parish quite often once we are up to it. He even gave me a name of a potential schola member and suggested I call her. Now that folks wouldn't have to trek out to the hinterland for a rehearsal, we can really focus on recruiting. The stealth flyer recruiting effort will now be underway at the back of any church I can visit.
Second good news: I also spoke with another pastor in the area about the possibility of singing for an occasional Mass. He was very nice and suggested a follow-up meeting with the music director of the parish and the director of the EF Mass schola. I look forward to seeing what may come of it.
Thirdly... I attended the first fall meeting for the local Catholic Women's Book Club. During the meeting I had the chance to put in a little plug for our group. I was amazed... I had three different women talk to me about being interested in it. One of them may also bring her musical husband along.
In my discussions about the possibilities for our little group, I have been trying to work with the pastors to begin the integration of Gregorian chant into the liturgy starting where the parishioners are, so to speak. I remember how we began in Shreveport, using much of the music that folks are already somewhat familiar with from the Jubilate Deo booklet. While I much prefer other Mass settings at this point, I think we should again start out with the ordinaries that people know and gradually add to their repertoire. As so many in CMAA have pointed out, it takes time to really build a music program that will last. Going in and insisting on everything being changed all at once at the beginning... and ignoring the fact that the parishioners should be a part of it all... can cause a plan to fail. Since we are hoping this will have a long-term impact on the Sacred Music here, we will try our best to take things slowly and gradually...
Next I need to begin building a Mass program handout for the people to use when our schola sings for Mass. I plan to put together a simple program for a Novus Ordo Mass that will include the music and translations for all the ordinaries that we'll begin using. It will include:
Kyrie IX (Orbis Factor) -- This will be the new chant we'll teach folks before Mass begins
Gloria VIII -- unless the pastor prefers that it be in English, in which case we'll use Kurt Poterack's English Gloria setting
Sanctus XVIII (yes, I know it is supposed to be for Weekdays in Advent and Lent -- they know this one, so we'll start there)
Agnus Dei XVIII (ditto)
Anima Christi (to be sung by all after Communion - another new chant for them to learn... but it is so very simple and perfect to sing after reception of Holy Communion)
In addition, I plan to add Latin chant hymns (and their translations) and translations for whatever propers we can add as a separate insert for the particular Sunday. My thought is to begin with nice traditional English hymns from the hymnals or missalettes for opening and closing of each Mass in order to ease the people into it... We'll probably sneak a few Introits in as preludes whenever possible.
Aside from working with any new recruits to learn the basic ordinaries... I am thinking I'd like to also start working with them on a couple of seasonal Communion propers. Those are typically more simple to learn and could have a great deal of flexibility for use over a greater time period. We have the month of November approaching, when we can offer prayers for the souls in Purgatory, so I'd like to teach the schola In Paradisum... then I think we should begin working on Advent chants...
So much to do... such a great opportunity!
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
After hearing amazing stories from various chanters, I supposed I should write something to report the chant activity at N.
Right after the chant intensive workshop, I went to Quebec city for the International Eucharistic Congress. There was a 3-mile long Corpus Christi procession in downtown Quebec city. A friend of mine in the schola and myself started singing Gregorian chants during the procession. We sang Salve Regina, Tantum ergo, Pange Lingua, Missa de Angelis, Credo III. Gradually, some people around us (mostly young people and seminarians in their twenties like myself) started joining us. Later on, we found older people (over 60) joined us singing. It's very interesting so see that young people like us can connect with older Catholics in such a unique, and CATHOLIC way. After we were done singing Tantum ergo, a Canadian gentleman chanted the first part of the versicle: Panem de caelis praestitisti eis, and then an African nun 5 feet away responded him by chanting the second part of the versicle: Omne delectamentum in se habentem. I was deeply impressed by that scene. An African nun, a Canadian man, and myself (who was born and raised in Hong Kong) had no problem communicating our faith at all because we sing the same chants everywhere in the world. I was like...wow...that's REALLY CATHOLIC. Having people sing the Credo in Latin in international gathering of Catholics exemplifies the universality of the Catholic Church much better than having 10 different languages sung in the same Creed. And I'm glad that we did sing the Credo in Latin at the big Mass in the Eucharistic Congress. They actually used a lot more chants than I expected. The Sanctus and Agnus Dei from Orbis Factor were used almost daily during the Congress. Pater Noster and all the responses before the Gospel and Preface were sung in every Mass.
About the schola at my parish:Our first schola was formed last Oct to prepare for a EF Pontifical High Mass last Dec. After that Pontifical Mass, we have been singing at Mass once a month because most of the members couldn't read music and it took us a whole month to get a whole set of Propers (for 1 Mass) learned. We do sing the complete Gregorian Ordinary and Proper though, although we only have 6 people (3 men and 3 women). I don't know what has happened in these past few months (must be the Holy Spirit)....but now we found ourselves learning a new set of Gregorian Propers (not psalm tones) every week. We have always sung a capella since we never have an organist (i am usually responsible for keeping the pitch because of my background in playing violin). Now I look back and I'm still amazed at how far we have come from. When we started, we had an ex-Benedictine monk to teach us. But then he left last May for personal reasons and I had to take over the schola. I'm still very thankful for Scott for whatever he has taught us. I think I have gained a much deep appreciation of chants from the workshop. Right now, we are preparing for a Pontifical High Mass (Feast of Exaltation of the Holy Cross) next month. We'll be singing full Gregorian Ordinary and Proper, together with Ecce Sacerdos Magnus, Pange Lingua, Jesu dulcis memoria, Adora te devote, and CHRISTUS VINCIT as the recessional. We may even sing the Te Deum if we can find a relic of the True Cross for Procession.
Thanks be to God!I Just thought that this would be an encouragement for any starting schola. We went through the whole process of starting one and now we are seeing the fruits coming out of it. It's beautiful.Have a blessed day!
Ad Jesum per Mariam
Here is another recent message from a fellow attendee:
The Chant Intensive and Colloquium were life changing events for me! For the last year and a half or so we've been singing proper introits, offertorios, and communios at N. We sing these in English to simple psalm tones -- based on the Anglican Use Gradual but with the approved RC translation of scripture (cross-checked in the Graduale Romanum to ensure we have the right text for the day). For the introit the cantor sings the antiphon then congregation repeats, cantor sings verse and Gloria Patri, then all repeat antiphon. Offertorio is cantor solo. Communio is presented in the manner of a responsorial psalm. After our two weeks at Loyola things changed a bit! Now the English offertorio and communio are preceded by yours truly chanting the proper from the Graduale Roman. So far this has been well received, and I think my accuracy is improving week by week. I am really enjoying preparing those chants each week -- I find that even more intellectually rewarding than crossword puzzles! I'll be teaching the Kyrie from the Missa Orbis Factor to the choir when we resume rehearsals next month, and we are still celebrating the Extraordinary Rite first Sundays at 5 p.m. My pastor is planning to attend the Colloquium next year!
Things are looking up here as well... as more develops, I'll post an update. This week, our fourth rehearsal for A-2 (Anonymous Two), we continued our work on the ordinaries for the Mass. This included:
- Kyrie Orbis Factor
- Gloria VIII
- Pater noster
- Mysterium Fidei
- Sanctus XVI
- Agnus Dei XVI
We even had time to do a quick run-through of the Ave Maria. That was our only new chant for the week. Our plan now is to get very solid on all the ordinaries of the Mass (leaving the Credo for later). Then, we'll start working on some seasonal Communion chants and chant hymns. After we have a bit of a repertoire, we'll do more work on propers. We had a very good discussion about the 'other appropriate song' option that can be done instead of propers at a NO Mass and the fact that singing for a Novus Ordo Mass when you are a new schola does give us some needed flexibility.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
I found this update and a very happy ending for home educators today...
Home schooling constitutional in CA
Jody Brown and Jim Brown -
OneNewsNow - 8/8/2008 2:10:00 PM
var addthis_pub = 'onenewsnow';
Home schoolers in
California and their supporters are celebrating a legal decision in which the
court handing down the ruling actually reversed itself.
today (Friday) the California Court of Appeal ruled that the state's education
code allows parents to home school their children. That decision means parents
do not have to obtain state credentials in order to home school. The court
acknowledged that a state prohibition on home schooling would intrude on
parents' constitutional right to direct their children's education, and that
that any limit on that right would be presumed unconstitutional. Gary
McCaleb, senior counsel with the Alliance
Defense Fund, is pleased that the court
decided parents have a constitutional right to make educational choices for
their children. "Thousands of California families have educated their
children through home schooling," he states. "[This decision] protects the
rights of families and protects an avenue of education that has proven to
benefit children time and time again."
In early March a three-judge
panel of the California Court of Appeal determined that parents in the Golden
State had no legal right to home school --
a ruling that one Christian attorney said would leave thousands of students
subject to criminal sanctions unless reversed.
chairman of the Home School
Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), says
today's ruling was unexpected. "We're very thrilled, not just a little bit,
[and] we're surprised as well," he remarks. "To get a court to do a
180-degree reversal is a remarkable thing and we view it as a blessing from
God. We're really thankful for it, and there's hundreds of thousands of
home-school kids in California who are now able to breathe a sigh of
Farris says groups like the Alliance Defense Fund, Liberty Counsel,
HSLDA, and Focus on the Family teamed up and were armed with new information
that compelled the court to uphold parents' constitutional right to educate
their children at home.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Even such things as hearing the difference between a minor and major third (crucial to good intonation) seem to be a bit difficult to teach initially. As we were going through this concept last night at our weekly rehearsal, I found an easy way to explain it. We simply went over to the piano keyboard and looked at the black and white keys. Assuming 'do' is a 'C', we went through the diatonic scale and found the spots where there were no black keys between (mi-fa and ti-do -- or E-F and B-C). In this way I was able to explain first of all the difference between a half-step and a whole-step and then, later, a major and minor third and demonstrate the difference in sound. The visual aid of the piano keys really helped.
So... although the sound difference isn't really yet firmly established, at least mentally the concept is understood. But, should we really be discussing this at such an early stage? I don't really know if it is a good thing or not. The reason we ventured into this topic was the difficulty we were having with hearing the minor third on the Mysterium Fidei. My initial thought was to show, using solfege, just that it was a minor third, rather than a major third... this led to the question of the terminology 'third' and then, about what constitutes a major third or a minor third... so we got a bit far afield. I also discovered that I was assuming a knowledge of music theory that shouldn't have been assumed!
I do believe this underlying understanding of the notation, solfege and of the diatonic scale is essential for anyone hoping to be able to read the notation on their own, so I think the training has value. My main concern is that I may push too much theory too fast and scare potential chanters away... any experience and opinions on that?
What we have been working on thus far:
All sung Novus Ordo Mass responses
The Kyrie is sounding pretty good (and is almost completely memorized without the music), as well as the basic sung responses for the Mass. The familiarity of the Sanctus and Agnus XVIII make them good starter chants as well. My own reduced interest in them initially made me think of bypassing them. I thought better of it, thinking that we should use what we have as a starting point. We'll clean them up, singing them with the correct phrasing and just work from there, I think.
Next week, we'll continue on with those things, trying to gain confidence in the ordinaries of the Mass. We are using Scott's method of learning new music... marking rhythmic groupings, solfege, pronunciation of the Latin, singing it in 2's and 3's... then putting it all together -- words and music. I tried bypassing a couple of steps on the Mysterium Fidei initially last night. It became immediately apparent to me how much it helps to go through all the steps. By the time we have done all those things before trying to put it together, the melody has become somewhat familiar and we have isolated the elements of the piece. Although it goes a bit more slowly with a beginning chanter, it really does work!
Friday, August 1, 2008
On another tack... As I was reading yet another inspiring story from a fellow Chant Intensive Workshop attendee, it occurred to me that it was high time to relate a few of these stories on the blog. I don't know how it happened, but among us graduates, the title for the course has morphed into Chant Boot Camp. Perhaps the high intensity of the week's training and the high level of skill-building it incorporated into the course... whatever it was, the new name seems appropriate. Here is another suggested name from the CMAA forum:
Our Chant Boot Camp platoon has now all been graduated to "The Green Birettas". Just think of Scott as John Wayne.
As I clip and paste some of these stories, I am sure I will miss one... so apologies in advance to anyone whose success wasn't mentioned here...
Here is one story from an attendee:
I wanted to share a small success story and thank you for the Chant boot camp (!) with our best drill sergeant Scott from which I got courage to do the following. Yesterday my schola sang at the Catholic Family Expo. Mass with Archbishop. We sang pretty well, considering we just started the schola. (Christus Vicit, which I learned at the workshop, was the best. There was a regular choir too.) It was a really good chance to introduce chants to people in this area. Probably many of them never heard chants before. Our chants schola had to sing with David Haas' music side by side. (I took it pretty well.)
After the Mass I handed my letter to an assistant to the Archbishop, since he was busy with many people around him. My letter was about my concerns on so called Contemporary Mass. I said this term seems to be used to say that the Mass is focus on Contemporary music and cut off from traditional music. I said it seens to be step backward from what our Holy Father is trying to do, and no church documents support it, and I mentioned a couple of reasons why popuar style music is not helping our faith, etc. I asked him to ban the use of the term, Contemporary mass. (I thought this will be a good first step.)
Guess what! he called me just now, personally. ( I don't know this is a usual thing, but I never had a phone call from an Archbishop before.) I was very nervous and thought I was done now. He said that the memo was good, and he will pass it to the priest who is in charge of Liturgy and is also concerned on this. (Hooray!) We will see what will come out of this, but at least I was able to convey our thoughts on keeping our traditional music in our liturgy.
Thank you, CMAA for all your work. I thought you might like to hear some success story after the Chant workshop. I was able to do that because of the workshops, books, articles that you guys put out. I'm in the front line, in a parish with a Contemporary mass and most of people who likes contemporary music. It's a hard work, but I really feel that God is helping us.( I really don't think there should be a Mass called contemporary mass. I do think, though, all the Masses should have at least Ordinary parts in Lain. After all, the Second Vatican council says all the faithful should be able to sing (or say) Ordinary parts in Church's official and universal language. And I was told that one of the responsibilities of music ministry people is to educate the faithful musically and liturgically.)
I'm in full gear now, recruiting people for two scholas in two different parishes. (this way I get to give them a choice to pick a different practice day.)
I made lots of flyers to recruit people from different parishes. Anyone who want to learn and sing Gregorian chant, which is declared by the Church as having its first place in Roman Liturgy, are invited. I sent flyers to different parishes, put an announcement in the local Catholic newpaper (and one of my devout schola and his wife go to different parishes and leave flyers in the back of the church, too). We also started a Latin class(Ecclesiastical) in our parish. We hired an instructor. (We got about 25 people for the Latin class. There are people out there who want to learn more about our Church's tradition.). I'm also planning to start a children's schola for home schooling children. This will be a good free music class for them too.
Here is another great story from a couple of guys who attended:
Here in N. we have finished our third month of the men's schola singing. That would be me, N. and our other schola member N. We have sung these last three months at our Saturday 5pm Mass in a simple prelude / second communion / postlude format, with much better sound and understanding since our week of study in Chicago. The schola is preparing for our "debut" on the first Saturday of September (and every first Saturday) with a full ordinary of mass, and some propers in chant with a couple of Latin hymns thrown in. This has been an interesting dance of the "spirit of Vatican II" with the actual intent of the V II. We're still working through with the Music Director and liturgical committee the final details but we are hopeful that all details will be resolved properly.
We have kept our attention to the immediate endeavor, as if you know anything about the Diocese of N., what we are attempting is radical and un-known territory. Our little schola is indeed on the raft and about to launch on the big dark ocean. Maybe after we have traveled a bit we will work on expansion and evangelizing. For now we get ready for September. We've been given a year (from September) to prove that this will work. I suspect it will take our hard work, patience and many prayers to St. Cecilia and guidance from the Holy Spirit!
Here is another posting... I'm trying to allow for some anonymity (although it will obviously be recognizable to those in the know about shrines, locations, etc.), so please excuse all the "N."s replacing the actual names of parishes, cities, etc...
Down here in N., we can’t boast of any parochial success. However, my independent women’s schola, the N. Schola Cantorae will possibly acquire another singer tomorrow evening. We will be singing Vespers on August 14th (First Vespers of the Assumption) and on September 8th (Feast of the Nativity of the BVM) at 6 p.m. in the Shrine of N. This is the oldest Marian shrine in the USA, dating from the 17th century (and rebuilt every time a hurricane blows it down). The director of the Shrine is eager to rebuild its reputation as a pilgrimage destination and is very supportive.
Most of the Vespers is in Latin with the two psalms in English. It’s somewhat of a “hybrid” of the Roman Breviary and the Liturgy of the Hours. But it’s a start. It’s also a heck of a lot of work. However, having done it, the next one will take much less time to compile (not necessarily to learnJ) And we have a basic website at www.cantorae.com
Plans going forward involve recruiting and then finding places to sing in a difficult liturgical environment. I’m also scheduled to give two short workshops at the diocesan retreat center in the next several months. So my theory is that we just soldier on – sooner or later, the ice has to break up down here.
I like to think how each one of us is slowly making a difference. Even if my opportunities and successes are limited in this area, I know we’re all in this together.
Here is one of the most recent...
It's N. from N. here. So good to hear the conversation of late--I need it right now. I had a feeling my life was going to change after the Chant Intensive and Colloquium (my first time for both), and change it did! My first week back, I got a new teaching job that would allow me more time for some kind of liturgical work. The second week back I found a condo I could afford to buy (my first home purchase ever), in a good location for my new job, and the third week back I was asked if I would be interested in leading the music for the "Latin Mass community" who were invited a year ago to celebrate the liturgy at our cathedral in N. I had several days to think it over while other people were weighing in on the decision, during which time I glanced at the possibility of declining the offer in order to utilize my free time in a less demanding way. My main idea had been to JOIN a chant choir, not plan, rehearse, and direct the whole thing. So much work! But the opportunity to build up a Gregorian schola at the cathedral seemed such a potentially very rewarding challenge and also a sort of directive from Above coming as it did at this time, that my hesitation has given way to confidence that I'll be given whatever guidance and stamina required. So in I jump with both feet. I know folks like you as well as CMAA will be a great support.
(Edited) Here is another success story from one of our fellow attendees... I couldn't locate the details of their story when I first posted... here it is:
The schola that we started last year according to Jeffrey and Arlene's "Garage Schola" model, had been singing on its own, and then once a month for the OF at a nearby parish. In late April, we found out that a priest was transferring into the Diocese to say the EF, and when we went to the 'organizational' meeting, it turned out that we were the only people in the area to sing, so by default we became the Schola for the Missae Cantatae, which are currently being celebrated once a month. We've sung for two of them now, plus we sing hymns at the Low Masses, plus an EF funeral, and tonight we had First Friday with an EF Mass, followed by Adoration and Benediction. I have to say that none of this would have been possible without our wonderful priest, the experience I gained singing at Chant Intensive and the Colloquium, and last but not least, the Parish Book of Chant, which we use for everything. And did I mention that this is in a 200 year old Mission Church?
A gentleman walked up to us tonight afterward and thanked us for singing. He said that it was nice to have the Latin Mass, but that the music is what really made it wonderful for him. Not bad for a Garage Schola! It reminds me of movies like "The Guardian", where inexperienced people learn new skills (drawing on the Boot Camp analogy again) and then are thrust into the real world where they still feel green and inexperienced, but their training makes them more knowledgeable than anyone else around, and they have to adjust to their new roles. We feel incredibly blessed.
This is just an indication of the grassroots (Green biretta) efforts of another group of people who love beautiful Sacred Music and who are trying to make a difference where they are.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Thursday, July 17, 2008
So... I first began by talking to every Catholic I met about the possibility of a schola to sing Gregorian chant. I found one potential member at Steve Ray's talk... then I put the word out to the local Catholic homeschooling group (and found four more there). Then, last night I think I have found another -- a wife of a man who works with my husband. That puts me up to 7 (including me) potential members.
Now I'm in the process of scheduling our first meeting/rehearsal. That puts me in the planning mode. It is a little difficult to decide the best way to start our fledgling group on the road to chant notation reading and singing. This is what I have come up with so far in terms of music we'll start with and reading resources:
1. Copies of "An Idiot's Guide to Square Notes", Arlene Oost-Zinner and Jeffrey Tucker
2. Lesson 1 of Learning Solfege from the Textbook of Gregorian Chant by Dom Sunol
3. Kyrie XI, Orbis Factor -- marked with all ictus markings and groups of three circled.
4. Gloria VIII, de Angelis -- marked in advance
5. Cheat sheet with names and descriptions of neumes from the book A Gregorian Chant Master Class by Ted Maurier and Scott Turkington
6. A CD with recorded chants I plan to work on for the next month or so. This will include a complete set of Mass ordinaries and several chant hymns suitable for use during ordinary time, as well as several Marian hymns.
7. Online links to information about documents regarding Sacred Music and the use of Gregorian chant in the liturgy.
8. Links to online resources for music and interpretations.
9. Would it be too soon to include membership applications for CMAA???
I am toying with the idea of also printing out the online Jubilate Deo for each person, although I may simply give them the link and let them decide for themselves if they would like to have it.
My plan for the first meeting will be to first talk about why it is so important to pass on the knowledge of how to sing chant and give some documentation about its desirability for use in the liturgy -- both Novus Ordo and Extraordinary forms of the Mass especially.
Next I plan to do a little warmup of the voices with standard vocalization drills as well as some 'Ward-method' type vowel 'noo' singing and pitch-matching.
Thirdly, we'll work on singing the Kyrie Orbis Factor learning it by rote. This is a method used by Scott Turkington in his workshops and is very effective in making the chant seem less formidable. Once we have it mastered (or least nearly so), then we'll open up the music and look at the chant notation, discussing the various neumes used in that chant.
Next, I'll go through a quick description of the theory of solfege, using a simple lesson from the book listed above.
Finally, we'll sing the Kyrie Orbis Factor all the way through to get it thoroughly in our heads and talk about the other resources I'll be sending home.
If time permits, I think I'll also show them the Parish Book of Chant, with the plan of moving to using that as a primary resource over time. Initially, I'll be making copies so that all the music is fully marked with rests and icti.
This is certainly different than the way our little schola in Shreveport began... with none of us knowing how to read the notation or anything about names of neumes or rhythmic markings, etc. I hope it is also better... but we shall see!
Friday, July 11, 2008
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
I've been silent, but not idle... Since moving into our new digs, I've found myself not blogging as frequently as before for a few reasons. One reason is the less-convenient location of the computer... upstairs and out of sight. Another reason is the fact that I have been working on several projects related to the new home.
The picture at the right shows my latest project, new patchwork quilts for the boys' room. I began working on these quilts about 8 years ago, when my youngest son was very small. At that time, I had to abandon the project, finding it impossible to quilt with little ones underfoot. Now that they are older (and even somewhat interested in the project), I am finding it possible to revisit the project. As you can see, I have finished the quilt tops. I now need to put them together and do all the hand-quilting (on the quilting hoop I have from my great grandmother on my father's side).
I've also made curtains for the dining room and kitchen here in the new home...
You'll be happy to know that I have (in between projects and on quick rests during) been practicing my chironomy on various chants from the Parish Book of Chant. So, my chant directing skills are, hopefully, continuing to improve.
Monday, June 30, 2008
If the course had been offered last summer, I would not have been ready for it. I'd still have learned a lot, of course, and been a bit farther along than I was when I began directing the schola, but I think I was able to get more with a little more experience this year.
What particular points did I take away from the course?
1. The necessity of learning, using and teaching solfege. This basic understanding of the diatonic scale and its use in sight-reading makes learning new chants so much easier.
I can remember last summer at the colloquium getting very tired of trying to sing the chants in solfege. I really could not see the value in it. I had developed my own 'cheat' system of sight-reading whereby I mentally thought of a key signature (assuming the four lines of the staff were the bottom four lines in a modern notation staff) and happily sight-read with ease. The main problem with this is the fact that my system was virtually impossible for me to teach to others (even those with a fair amount of standard notation experience). They just couldn't get it. Solfege may not be second-nature to most modern notation note-readers, but they can all understand it and get used to it with a little practice. Beginning note-readers do far better with this than trying to understand modern notation.
2. I learned so much more about the understanding of the various modes. The organization of them, the ability to hear the difference in the modal scales and a more clear understanding of them only came about for me this summer.
3. Chironomy training that is so essential for leading a schola was made so much more clear.
I had seen the basics of it in use last summer during the colloquium. I had also read about it in various chant books I have in my (ever-expanding) library. I had even tried to figure out how to direct simple drills with the arsis and thesis concept. I was not really very successful. I always simply fell back into my own simple method of directing, somewhat loosely based upon the directing I had been used to seeing while singing in choirs over the years...
The ability to see some actual rules to use in determining whether a grouping should be arsic or thetic was so very helpful. I have, since coming home, marked up many chants I already knew well with the directing notes. And yes, I have even practiced directing (no one present to direct, of course) here at home. I don't think I would have made too much progress along this particular path without having someone really show us how.
Picture the way our entire gathering of forty-some attendees all gathered around our teacher, Scott Turkington, in front of the chapel that faces Lake Michigan practicing our chironomy. We looked a bit like a tae- chi group out doing our exercises.
4. We learned the actual rules that exist for determining rhythmic groupings. Rather than just having to guess at what 'seems' right, we have actual rules!!! It had never been explained so clearly to me before. What's more, the most crucial of the rules are all printed for anyone to use in the back of the newly published Parish Book of Chant (p. 175 for anyone interested).
5. The method of teaching new chants using a combination of the various bits of information is something I will use.
Whenever we began learning a new proper during the workshop, we began by marking all the rhythmic groups according to the Solesmes method. The groupings of twos and threes and the insertion of understood rests at full- and double-bar lines helps tremendously in gaining familiarity with the chant. We also sang the chant in solfege... knowing where those half-steps are is crucial for note-reading accuracy... it is hard to miss when singing solfege. Then we would often sing the chant by the rhythmic numbers. This helped us to concentrate on the rhythm (and also gave our poor, unaccustomed-to-solfege brains a chance to rest). We would often go over the text, assuring accurate pronunciation... and finally put it all together text and notes.
I was quite astounded at how quickly the group learned new music using this method.
I'll probably think of several more really great things that I had never learned (or had the sense to absorb) before this summer... but, for now, these are the things that stick out for me. As I mentioned, I think I got more out of this course after gaining a year's worth of familiarity with the many standard chant hymns, ordinaries and propers that we used in our schola. It made the learning process much quicker for me this summer than it would have been for me as a complete novice.
I think this course offers so much possibility for those who may be thinking about starting their own schola somewhere... to have this foundational knowledge will make a huge difference in the world of Gregorian chant in the liturgy.
Monday, June 23, 2008
One of my particular favorites was the Christus Vincit with a bit of organum added, courtesy of one of our workshop attendees and a few friends.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
One thing that has not yet been unearthed is the cable I need to upload my recordings of the Mass to make them available. Happily, you can still get a taste of the music we sang at the Mass on Friday afternoon, thanks to my friend over at Sacred Miscellany. Mary Jane has uploaded several of the chants we sang. Click on over and give a listen...
It was a very congenial group of folks gathered there for the workshop... the relatively smaller size of the group (in comparison to the Colloquium) made it possible to meet almost everyone and share a meal and conversation along the way. It was such fun to get to sing with friends from last year's Colloquium, as well as new ones. Several bloggers were there... Sacred Miscellany, Back When We Were Liberal, Scelata, Chironomo's Podium... and some others. It was fun to be able to put a face with a blog.
I'm getting very close to finding many things I need to feel that things are back to normal around here... after that, there will be many more postings...
Friday, June 13, 2008
The course has progressed very quickly through the various aspects of Gregorian chant. We started out with a pretty basic overview of neumes, interpretation of the Solesmes editions of the ordinaries and propers, including rhythmic notations...
Along the way we have also begun to learn the basics of chironomy and have worked a lot on the solfege, modes, ear training... As you can probably guess, it has been a very packed week.
Our instructor, Scott Turkington, has been great. He makes the difficult concepts very clear and understandable, even to those of us who don't have a great deal of experience with it. I would highly recommend this course to those who want to gain a bit more depth in their understanding of chant, although maybe not so much to the absolute beginner.
The facilities here at Loyola have been outstanding. The staff here have been so very helpful and friendly. The recently-renovated chapel here at the university which sits at the edge of Lake Michigan is quite beautiful and has great acoustics for the chant.
It has been a wonderful week!
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Along with all this home preparation goes the inevitable change of addresses... utilities turn-on and cut-off... and, since we can't keep our email address from one state to another, the many online links to our email all must be updated. For those who seldom, if ever, move -- this is a very good reason to stay right where you are.
Our food supplies are dwindling, too. We must either depart or make a grocery run soon. I'm down to quick foods for the boys and a few cans of liquid meal replacements (do you think I can shed a few pounds right before the move -- that is a happy thought). I did make muffins with almost the last bit of baking supplies left this morning.
It is time to begin getting ready for Mass... I'm cantoring twice today. Our little altar server gets to serve one last time this evening at 5:30.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
I found old bank statements, checks, files from as early as 1994 in an old rubbermaid bin that had been lurking in the garage. My oldest son had a great time with the shredder... I think he especially enjoyed the times when it would jam up and he could put to use all his natural mechanical skills and (after unplugging the thing at my insistence) unclog the teeth with my tweezers.
I found my long-lost professional resume and job information from my last job (outside the home, that is -- I still have a very demanding job, you know). It was good to look it over and remember that happy time in my life when I was working (I really loved working and found it a HUGE adjustment to stay home and take care of my babies at first). Unfortunately, I am thinking that, even if I have the energy to try, my chances of actually finding a job in my chosen field after the kids are raised and out of the house are probably slim to none. Since I had the kids so late in life, I'll definitely be a bit old to try to begin again ten years from now... no... dear husband is going to just have to support us all for the duration.
That one useful (I suppose that could be debatable) item was about the only thing I kept out of a huge rubbermaid container... think about it -- we've been hauling that thing around for the last nine moves (counting moves within a city). That is ridiculous! Each time we go through this, I resolve to get rid of stuff as we go along... and then fail.
Thus, the only way I seem to be able to force myself to go through and get rid of the stuff we seem to be drowning in... is when an impending move is upon us. Even at that, it is obvious that I miss certain things each time. Perhaps that is why we must move so often... if we lived anywhere longer than, say, three years, perhaps we would be unable to dig ourselves out.