Monday, May 18, 2009

Why Train to Sing?

Anyone who has spoken with pastors from parishes at length hears a similar story about a primary problem in parish life today: too many people are demanding of services and not enough are willing to provide them. Most priests are thrilled when faithful laypeople get involved in assisting, particularly as it affects the liturgical life of the parish in ways that draw the parish into the traditions of the Church.

The most successful scholas I know, for example, formed without being asked and sing in order to make a contribution to the parish. It can change everything.

Right now, we are in the midst of a renaissance of sacred music in Catholic life today, and it is being pushed forward mainly by nonprofessional who are taking it upon themselves to undertake training to become experts in singing the music of the Church. These days there are many opportunities: spend one week training and you change the liturgical life of your parish for an entire generation.

I was thinking about the Sacred Music Colloquium coming up in June in Chicago and looking at what is offered vs. what it costs. The price of tuition is $325 and it runs from Monday night until the following Sunday morning. This is an amazing bargain by any standard. There are options for housing and meal plans but the main thing is that you get a chance to study with and sing under the direction of world masters of sacred music.

If you worry about your own vocal abilities, there safety in numbers here. There will be some 220-250 people here so your sections will be sizable and you will meet many people who are encountering this world for the first time. It will challenge you, to be sure, but then you return to your parish with fantastic knowledge and you will be in a position to help others. Change begins to happen within months. By Advent you could be singing introits, graduals, communions and your services will be sought be other parishes in town.

There is no shortage of people to complain about the state of things but some are called to do something positive for the good. It starts with one person who is willing to make a difference. It will be good for yourself and good for others, and even turn out to mark a dramatic change in your life and the life of your community.

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