We are coming to a close in our Intro to Chant series (this will actually be the last Thursday that we meet for class – but I will pass along exciting news for the last Thursday of the month, so keep that evening open!), but that does not mean you have to wait until I mysteriously have time to offer another series. June seems to be “the month of chant,” with many workshops occurring throughout the US. Here are just a couple you might find interesting – keep in mind, they are generally offered every year, so no worries if you can’t make it for the 2018 season.
June 18-22: CMAA (Church Music Association of America) summer course at Duquesne offers a Chant Intensive (beginner/intermediate/advanced levels) where they will go over everything I taught, plus more, and better. There is also Laus in Ecclasia, which is taught by the choirmaster at Clear Creek Monastery, and is designed of offer both a thorough understanding, as well as to encourage learning throughout the year. The Ward Method class is great for anyone with an interest in teaching chant to children – I took it last year and highly recommend it if you are interested in teaching music to kids, even if you don’t have a full understanding of chant yet. They finish the week with a beautiful Ordinary Form liturgy.
June 25-30: CMAA Colloquium at Loyola University in Chicago, Il is kinda like the summer course at Duquesne, but bigger. The Colloquium moves around every year (I attended when it was at Duquense), so if Chicago is too expensive, you could just keep an eye on where they have it in the future. They offer very worthwhile talks, voice training sessions, instruction in both chant and polyphony for all levels, and the celebration of the liturgy in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Form.
June 25-28: If you need something a little less intense, but still wanting to learn, you might consider the Gregorian Chant Retreat in Amenia, NY. It is lead by Dominican Friars and is actually more affordable than one would expect. You can look through their schedule to get a sense as to what to expect.
June 18-22: Lastly, if traveling across the country is appealing to you, there is the Sacred Music Symposium in Alhambra, CA, which is presented by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. They are offering a “Crash Course” in Gregorian Chant and Hymnody, and there are some pretty big names in their list of participants.
If you are not able to make it to a workshop this year, but still want to continue to grow in your ability, I recommend simply getting a good chant CD (recording is clear, voices are unified, the chant is light/does not drag) and listen to it regularly. As you become familiar with the melodies, practice singing along – you can just sing the vowels until you become more familiar with the words. Get comfortable with your voice moving through the intervals, listen to match pitch and to express the nuances within the chant. See if you can pick out the liquescents, qualismas, and held notes that have a light pulse to them. The freedom of singing in your own home or car will help you to practice regularly, which is the most important part of learning.
Two sources of Chant CD’s that I would recommend are: the Norbertine Fathers of St. Michael’s Abbey and the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of the Apostles. Both offer very clear recordings and they are wonderful examples of the beauty of Gregorian Chant. The Benedictines CD’s also include polyphony and some hymns in English. Both sources are great to have in your music collection, and proceeds go to support the religious life.
While I will offer more opportunities when I can, I hope that you will continue to grow through experience and love with this beautiful form of prayer.