After trying the limited amount of networking I have had available to me, it has become obvious that what I was seeking in terms of a schola was not (at least not easily) to be found here. Keeping in mind that I cannot count on many years of time available to do things in any one place, I have been thinking I need to get started -- and now!
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!