Sunday, May 07, 2006

Instruction is key

The discussion of which type of music is appropriate for liturgy goes on and will go an ad aeternum. Those of us involved with liturgy, its music, and its theology will always be challenged by the comments and ideas of our colleagues. The art and science of liturgical music is a vital one, and this alone should be a source of encouragement to us all.

Recent discussion of our recent piece which appears in Crisis Magazine supports this view. Whether one agrees with the contention that chant IS the music for liturgy or not is not, instruction is its raison d'etre. It is meant as a primer for those who want help in diving into the world of neumes, specifically those who have had other musical training and find making the switch to medieval notation difficult.

Without real access to interpretation of the chant, a musican or pastor trained only in modern notation will have a hard time grasping "how chant works," and conjuring up a real understanding of chant's place in the liturgy, not to mention an informed understanding of the symbiosis that exists between the two.

Again, the thrust is instruction. In an ideal world, we would all be instructed in both notational methods. The Ward Method of music instruction is the definitive resource for those who want a new understanding of the relationship between both medieval and modern systems. Althouth demanding of the teacher (why turn down a challenge?), it should, without question, be consdidered for all children growing up in the Church today.

The debate over the intent of Vatican II and the appropriateness of musical styles will never be settled. That is one of the glories and the challenges of the living Church. But children raised with a full understanding of where todays' music and notation comes from will have the leg up on any discussion they encounter as liturgists and musicians of the future.

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