Monday, June 22, 2009

Who Wants to Be Trained in Sacred Music?

I'm intrigued by the stories of many people during the registration day at the sacred music colloquium in Chicago. I've met already a dozen or so people who are coming for the first time who are very well trained in music, with advanced degrees, but are coming to be retrained to read neumes, conduct and sing chant, become acquainted with the broader Catholic tradition, and want to understand more about the relationship between music and the liturgy.

Until very recently, it was a common assumption about music at the Catholic Mass was that it was no different from most any music gig, except that you play hymns instead of charts. The idea of a unified liturgical text and music--that Catholic musicians have a very specific job to do that is unlike any other music job--just didn't seem to be the thing.

I would say that this feature of experienced musicians learning new ways of contributing is something new and highly encouraging. It takes real humility and dedication to take the step of rethinking a paradigm and upgrading one's skills in order to make a contribution.

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