Tuesday, June 10, 2008

To be trained to sing chant

At the Chant Intensive this week, and though I knew that 50 people would be here, I was still startled at this size of this camp -- a full week with one master teacher. Reviews are coming in already. It is very encouraging that all these people are willing to do this in order to improve their skills. Most of the people here feel rather isolated during the rest of the year, so the camaraderie is a big part of the program. But the teaching itself is the main point.

I'm ever more convinced that if you want to direct chant or sing the propers, especially as a leader, being trained is essential. It is really not enough to listen to recordings and then read from the Graduale. One must take the time to learn about rhythm, style, pronunciation, and be alerted by a master to pitfalls and mistakes we all make.

Another important aspect to these conferences is propagating a universal approach. Since these programs started expanding a few years ago, this is increasingly the case. We can go to other parishes and sing with their groups, in this country and around the world. There will always be charming variations in local practice, and there is nothing wrong with asking before liturgy questions like "how do you handle the Salicus" or "how do you treat episemas." Good training also prepares one to manage these differences.

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