Sunday, January 22, 2012

How to judge a church

I recently found myself in the position of describing (or rather, comparing) two different Catholic churches, to help someone who is traditionally minded decide which to attend. As I thought about it later, the kinds of things that I chose to mention were interesting, and certainly say something about a church. But most people wouldn't consider most of these things significant at all! I hardly even had to mention the devotion to orthodox Catholicism, since the interesting thing is that these things all point to that!

-Of course, the quality of the music. How much chant? Anything in latin? The quality of the choirs and of course what styles of music they sing in.
-The demeanor of the priest while celebrating Mass; including, how much he "ad libs," or brings his personality into the ritual.
-The content of the homilies.
-Whether there are female altar servers.
-Whether the church "looks" like a church inside.
-The demeanor (lack or presence of chatter or respectfulness) before and after Mass from the congregation.
-What kind of vestments the priest wears, and what the altar servers wear.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

"Nobody has ever taught us this before!"

I had a lovely little choir rehearsal tonight.

Looking at the schedule, I realized that we really don't have much to learn between now and Lent, and, (if I wanted to,) I could surely run the rehearsal in 35 minutes each week. That not really being an option (since my pay isn't based on hours,) I have been thinking I need something more to do with the choir. So, I decided to have them work on a little polyphonic 4-part piece. At the very least, even if they never sing it at Mass, I could use it to teach some notes and how to read rhythms.

I decided I would do a lot of "everyone singing the same part" thing, so that people wouldn't get bored, and teach them to "count-sing." (Eg, 1+2+3+4+ for every measure.)

We had started that last week on a mostly quarter note song, and it was going well, so I figured that jumping into the eighth note song would be perfect. I quickly realized that they had less of a grasp on the actual note values than I was thinking, so I set about explaining how "1+2" or whatever fits into which notes exactly, and writing it on the white board. They were very interested, with only mild complaining about the difficulty. So, we had a great rehearsal, got through a bit of the piece, and I'm looking forward to helping them to really learn it solidly, with a complete understanding of the notes over the next few weeks.

However, my day was made (and my heart aches,) when, at the end of rehearsal, I was erasing the white board, and someone said, "Oh, you're erasing that! I was going to use it!" And then they started asking me to re-write it and hand it out! They said, "No one has ever taught us this before!... I failed music when I was in school... I've been singing in choirs for years!"

Wow. So, this will be an interesting experiment at the worst, or, way to change their lives (musically at least,) at the best. I will definitely write out a sheet for them, and even include some rhythm exercises that they can practice counting on their own! This should be fun.
And...this is why I love my job. :-)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


I'm super excited... I'm currently working on typesetting a new edition of THIS gorgeous piece, which is certainly in public domain. I can hardly wait to be finished so I can put it on CPDL and make it available, accessible, and FREE to the whole world!

I'm particularly excited, because this, as a project, has been in the back of my mind as something that I would like to do... but I just received confirmation today that this is entirely legal, and rightly so! {why deny the world something that was written by someone who has been dead for more than 100 years, just so some publisher can line his pockets?}