Here’s an idea to interview someone for DoM …
  • Hand him/her a Graduale Romanum and say, “turn to the (nth) Sunday of Ordinary Time, and sing me the Offertory antiphon.”

    Discuss.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,368
    Great question! Not a complete interview: no questions about organ builders, budgets, human interaction, philosophy of liturgical music, problem solving, organizational skills--but a key question!
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,115
    Good idea. Or at the very least a communio or introit.
    Thanked by 1Kathy
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,744
    The candidate flunks if (s)he cannot figure out which Offertory Antiphon goes with, say, the 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time (which isn't the way things were done in 1961).
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Hi Felipe!
    Though I agree with you and other commentators that such a tactic "cuts to the chase," I also think that might be counterintuitive in that some very good candidates might feel it confrontational on one hand, and that it doesn't provide the musician any intellectual "wiggle room." In other words, wouldn't you want to assess a person's adaptability as well?
    How about-
    1. Have the candidate identify the two clefs and explain their purpose.
    2. Ask them about the function of tetrachords.
    3. If they get the clefs, ask them to identify the solfege note starting a chant, identify the "final" by solfege pitch, and what seems to be the reciting solfege pitch is. If s/he successfully does that (which even non-neume readers could intuit), then let them try "Ubi caritas" or some other metric hymn-chant in neumes.
    4. Ask them to provide a rationale or framework for why they would teach chant, lead chant and use chant in normative Catholic worship.

    And so forth. Give the candidate some wiggle room, and you'll know how they'll function in a varied, real world of parish worship concerns. YMMV
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,373
    A truly good and accomplished musician who could likely work at any of the finer places, would probably smack you in the face with the GR, tell you to quit wasting his time, and where you can go as he moves on to a better place. LOL.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,368
    A truly good and accomplished musician who could likely work at any of the finer places, would probably smack you in the face with the GR, tell you to quit wasting his time, and where you can go as he moves on to a better place. LOL.
    And this would be useful information, much better gained during the interview process than during the next May crowning when you ask him or her to do something else that s/he feels is beneath the high dignity of a DM's station...
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,373
    There are legitimate interview questions, then there are the esoteric and non-relevant questions that are designed to highlight the interviewer, not the interviewee - if there is such a word. If this were a strictly OF parish, handing someone the GR and expecting them to try to make equivalents between two different calendars, would seem a bit pointless, if not ridiculous. Interviews need to stick to the essentials of the work that will actually be done, not try to delve into the unlikely and rarely seen.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    This is a bad question. A better one would be for the interviewer to hand the candidate the book, and say, "teach me to sing this Offertory chant."

    I was reflecting on my early mentors. I remember one who said to me, in my first year of organ playing, "you have a lot of talent, but talent is nearly worthless in church work. Develop your skills at dealing with people. That's what will get you farther." It certainly has.
  • Melo: Yikes! I had theory exams that were almost identical to your "interview" LOL! All the same I think yours is a great idea. And Gavin's as well. It's one thing to know all the stuff, quite another to be able to teach it.
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,115
    If this were a strictly OF parish, handing someone the GR and expecting them to try to make equivalents between two different calendars, would seem a bit pointless, if not ridiculous. Interviews need to stick to the essentials of the work that will actually be done, not try to delve into the unlikely and rarely seen.


    What does having a strictly OF parish have to do with ignoring the Graduale Romanum? I assume we are discussing the 1974 edition, which, as you should know, is the normative music book of the Ordinary Form, containing the official chants for the full new calendar and new feasts as well. It's very applicable to the ordinary form. It's not a book for the EF, that's the liber usualis.
  • ^ Except when trying to find the Sunday after Pentecost equivalent to Ordinary Time. That's a bit of trouble. Admittedly, I have a distinct preference for vernacular propers over the Latin ones, unless the Ordinary Chants of the Mass are sung in Latin as well. Which is why I go looking for faithful English adaptions of the Propers for Solemnities like Christmas that are close to the Graduale melody, rather than just using the actual Graduale Introit, Dominus Dixit.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,373
    No, I wasn't thinking of the 1974. How many OF parishes use it? Inquiring minds want to know. I suspect one has to have some EF leanings to even know about it or want to use it. Even in my parish the missal antiphons have replaced it. I don't see any great rush among OF musicians to implement it and am afraid it may die away from lack of use. Now I didn't say that is what I want, just that I think that is the way things are.
    Thanked by 1Kathy
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Ben, that's a digression that isn't very valuable at this point, coming from someone whose experience has been in the rarified and magnificent atmosphere managed by a true expert, our friend Aris.
    The point of an interview for a Director of Music is to assess the skills of an expert practicioner of teaching, leading, evangelizing, recruiting and maturing the skills of all interested parties, not an expert in the theory, musicology and academics of chant.
    Ergo, from the flipside of our practicums, if I wrote "DMaj9/F#=?" on the exam, I'd be more interested in knowing how the candidate would render that rather than hear an argument or philosophy about chordal nomenclature. That's kind of the same question Felipe asks for in the OP, but one which is of fairly equal value in the "marketplace" of church music, no?
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,115
    Except when trying to find the Sunday after Pentecost equivalent to Ordinary Time. That's a bit of trouble. Admittedly, I have a distinct preference for vernacular propers over the Latin ones, unless the Ordinary Chants of the Mass are sung in Latin as well. Which is why I go looking for faithful English adaptions of the Propers for Solemnities like Christmas that are close to the Graduale melody, rather than just using the actual Graduale Introit, Dominus Dixit.


    Not sure I understand. The new GR is completely revised, so it has no references to the sundays after pentecost. It's completely for the OF, just like the Liber is completely for the EF. On the 17th sunday of ordinary time, you simply open it up, and find tempus per anum XVII (or whatever the latin phrase is, I don't remember, don't have one in front of me). I'm not understanding what is so difficult here: The graduale is a book completely for the ordinary form.
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • I must be using the wrong Graduale edition, then. Darn- I knew I shouldn't have trusted Amazon.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,368
    Sight-singing a chant is a basic skill. Not sure what the issue is here.
  • kenstb
    Posts: 364
    Very interesting comments. I would ask an applicant to improvise a melody from a figure bass and to transpose it once he/she had done so. I would hope that anyone applying for a DoM position would be able to sing chant or play anthems at the organ at prima vista. Still an ability to work with and inspire people is of greater use to a DoM than impressive talent as a musician.
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,100
    A better one would be for the interviewer to hand the candidate the book, and say, "teach me to sing this Offertory chant."


    Hear, Hear!!! This is the winner!

    Not one member of a church choir, nor one member of the congregation, will give a flying fig about 'where's solfege'? Their only concern will be 'can I get home by 10PM on rehearsal nights' and/or 'will Mass last longer than 75 minutes'?

    The interview committee, of course, will be concerned that they will be able to hear their favorite '70's pops-based 'hymns.' And that the MD will work 60 hours/week and be able to cut/paste everything so that the entire budget--including wage, benefits, and expense, will be less than $20K/year or so.

    Ph.D. required, by the way.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,368
    Btw, how is this exercise more confrontational than the audition portion of (presumably) every interview for musicians?
    Thanked by 1Adam Wood
  • Besides, I'll have you know, when I started as a cantor last October, I didn't have a good grasp of how to read regular music, much less sight-read chant. I just learnt by ear, until I learnt in December how to read both. Even now, though, I prefer to learn by ear, and mostly use the actual chant score to remind me if I'm unsure of part of the melody.
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • This is a bad question. A better one would be for the interviewer to hand the candidate the book, and say, "teach me to sing this Offertory chant."


    When’s the last time you were able to teach a piece of chant without first being able to sing it?
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,911
    Yes, singing is the first step to teaching a song, but it's not the whole process. It would be beneficial to see if a candidate can teach new music effectively, or if they are of the teach by rote (strictly) and intense repetition school.

    Another question would be "Is this person going to make my musicians better at what they do, or just teach them new music?" Sometimes learning new music is the key to getting better, but it is very possible to teach a bunch of new sings, but the group never actually improves. This also depends on what Fr wants in regards to the music and what his view of the function of music in the liturgy is.
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,066
    There is a director at a TLM oratory in the Midwest whose audition was substantially composed of this very thing, except with a Liber and the interview consisted of both sight-singing and improvisation on the chant.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,373
    I am not convinced there is one ideal way to interview any more than I am convinced that any two parishes are alike and want the same thing. Walking into an interview, a candidate often doesn't know what is important to the pastor and what is not. He may not give a fig about chant and may have other priorities. It is good to scope these things out ahead of time if possible.
  • I have had several pastors ask me to help draft job descriptions for openings in their parishes, and one of my main pieces of advice is: be specific about what you want. Anyone looking for a job has a tendency to "read into" a job description things that either get him excited or turn him off. Don't use euphemism, don't speak in generalities. Ask for what you want and you'll get it.
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,131
    I have consulted on 4 positions in the last year, one in my neighborhood and 3 in other parts of the country. In all 4 instances I met with the pastor and the committees before they began taking resumes. I walked in with my Graduale, several hymnals and a list of questions. In only 1 of the 4 did the pastor know what the Graduale was. In the others, neither the pastor or the committee knew what it was.

    One might like to engage in wishful thinking about knowing the GR, but it still remains an "little known secret" in most cases. And in three of the cases, the clergy had graduated from seminaries in the last 5 years. Please do not tell me the seminaries are getting better. Personal knowledge of 3 indicates otherwise. I realize that doesn't amount to much, but its what I know.

    And I daresay that 95% of the candidates knew nothing about the GR. The question introduced by Mr. Gaspar is at most a moot point right now and maybe in the future it might become a reality, but not now.

    As to the advice proposed by Mr. Motyka, it is the same as I give. You get what you ask for so say what you want.

    Just keep working for change and educate where you are.
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,131
    deleted
  • PaixGioiaAmorPaixGioiaAmor
    Posts: 1,473
    The original example is a bit ridiculous.

    And even in places in which there is a premium placed on Gregorian Chant, the ability to read it at sight from original notation is one peron's opinion of what should be a priority.

    Chant is but one piece of a large puzzle, which includes the ability to play the organ, direct choirs, get along with people, select appropriate music and lead a parish in the appropriate direction, etc.

    And, even if the parish is using chant - there are valid arguments for using modern notation.

    Yeah - the new DOM can sing an offertory from the GR. He has also driven away 20 families from the parish, has gotten 3/4 of the choir to quit, and has the Pastor pondering what to do about the large decrease in weekly offertory giving.

    But at least he can render a chant that most of the parish doesn't want to hear at sight.

    A far better interview question will be "How have you been successful in the past at getting parishioners and choir members to "buy in" to the idea of using chant and polyphony in the mass?"
  • donr
    Posts: 969
    I think you should give him/her a piece of polyphony that is 6 part and ask him to sing all six parts, all at once. Now that would be someone to hire :-)
    Thanked by 1bonniebede
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,744
    I think you should give him/her a piece of polyphony that is 6 part and ask him to sing all six parts, all at once. Now that would be someone to hire :-)

    Calling Matthew Curtis, calling Matthew Curtis, ...
  • I like the original question, and agree that if it's in the job ad, it's fair warning.

    There are a lot of good candidates out there who might not be up to par on this one of several factors, though having this as part of an interview would signal good priorities and concrete expectations.

    Maybe preparing one proper chant of the candidate's choosing, and having to sing one acapella from sight would also be a good combo. I also agree that teaching a chant- perhaps an introit or hymn, depending on the student singers- would also be an important demonstration.

    I don't recall the OP ever claiming his question would be the bulk of an interview...
    Thanked by 1Kathy
  • kenstb
    Posts: 364
    Somehow this thread became personal to some of you. From reading it, I'm not quite sure how that happened. The original question was interesting, but it wasn't an invitation to take verbal swings at each other. Everyone is entitled to an opinion.
    Thanked by 3chonak CHGiffen Kathy
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,737
    [I have removed some of the digression comments above.--admin]
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160

    And for the record, my Daltry reference was inclusive of many older (Greatest Gen/ Boomers/GenX's) priests who have, in my presence as well as God's, literally changed their tune.
    I can name that tune in three notes: Fr. Jeffrey Keyes.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,368
    Ok. And I'm having trouble imagining Fr Jeffrey Keyes disagreeing with the statement that sight-singing chant is a basic skill for DMs.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Thank you for making my point. I knew him when.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Yeah - the new DOM can sing an offertory from the GR. He has also driven away 20 families from the parish, has gotten 3/4 of the choir to quit, and has the Pastor pondering what to do about the large decrease in weekly offertory giving.

    But at least he can render a chant that most of the parish doesn't want to hear at sight.


    I can't agree with this enough.
  • bonniebede
    Posts: 756
    Thinking of other threads...

    Interviewer: Please take this massive tome of music written in a way you have never heard of and sing me something beautiful from it. Any problem with that?

    Interviewee: Please take this long and detailed employment contract, which specifies a living wage on which to raise a family, paid holidays, specific job descriptions and grievance procedures and give me a short disquisition on the just treatment of workers in the Social teachings of the Church from Leo XIII to Francis. Any problem with that?

    Ahh. I do love fiction...

  • cmbearer
    Posts: 71
    Of course this type of interview question implies that the interviewers (the pastor or committee made up of lay people) can understand chant enough themselves to be able to adequately assess the skill of the one being interviewed.

    Wouldn't that be a wonderful thing?
    Thanked by 1Adam Wood
  • PaixGioiaAmorPaixGioiaAmor
    Posts: 1,473
    I know chant. I sing chant with my schola and direct it.

    There's a lot of chants that I can't open up and sing at sight. And I think that's ok.

    At the end of the day, expertly rendering a chant from original notation with nuance will be done maybe for the Introit, Offertory, and Communion (that's being very generous; we typically do it only for the Introit and Communion. Some places only for one of those moments.)

    So what percentage of the mass is that when we factor in all of the Ordinary, whether choral or congregational, any hymns that might be sung, the Psalm and Alleluia, and prelude and postlude music? Remember - even if the ordinary is being chanted by the congregation, I doubt that the whole chant notation and sight singing thing comes into play.

    Really, even in an "ideal" music program, chant itself is actually only one piece of the program. And remember, almost no one can be an expert at everything. You will either have a PhD in musicology who can expertly render the chant and give a talk on the differences between Solemnes interpretation and historical, but can't play the organ well, or you will have a splendid organist who is a bit shaky on chant, or a great choral conductor with decent organ capabilities who is shaky with chant, or 100 other combinations.

    Why would you ever put so much emphasis on this?

    Sight singing in general is very very valuable. From chant notation, using a more complicated chant from the GR? Not so much.
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • Again, I don't see how the OP is putting undue emphasis on this area.

    Maybe it wouldn't work some places. But is it a good idea in lots of situations? Sure, why wouldn't it be?
    Thanked by 2BruceL Kathy
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,373
    In reality, I have never applied for a DM/Organist job, and I have been at this for around 50 years or so. The churches where I have worked, Protestant and Catholic, have had to convince me that I wanted to work for them. Does that mean I am world class as organist or director? Absolutely not! I work well with my people and get generally good results, but Mormon Tabernacle Choir we are not.
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,744
    Thinking of other threads...

    ...

    Ahh. I do love fiction...
    Bonnie, on this subject, this may have been, quite simply: The. Best. Post. Ever.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,737
    Really, this whole thread is a lot of talk about fantasy interview questions, with as much contact with reality as a fantasy football league.

    For the people who got into a personal spat, it reminds me of the old saw about faculty squabbles: the battles are so intense because the stakes are so small.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,368
    I disagree, Chonak. I think it's an entirely practical matter, along the lines of any other audition portion of an interview.
  • It is wrong to believe that the interview questions are entirely practical and should be used by any priest who is not strongly versed in chant, willing and able to take all the flack, stand behind the employee and give the new employee a 5 year contract with a golden parachute in case he gets transferred....meaning you get paid for all 5 years if the new priests kicks your keister to the street.

    Small...to confront the moderator who has so succinctly described this discussion.
    Thanked by 1kenstb
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,066
    At the end of the day, expertly rendering a chant from original notation with nuance will be done maybe for the Introit, Offertory, and Communion (that's being very generous; we typically do it only for the Introit and Communion. Some places only for one of those moments.)

    So what percentage of the mass is that when we factor in all of the Ordinary, whether choral or congregational, any hymns that might be sung, the Psalm and Alleluia, and prelude and postlude music? Remember - even if the ordinary is being chanted by the congregation, I doubt that the whole chant notation and sight singing thing comes into play.


    I hope I'm not taking us off topic here, but I vehemently disagree that the notation system for chant is not important. Parishes SHOULD and MUST be exposed to Gregorian notation, for two reasons: 1) most of those who do not read music expertly find it easier to follow, or at least see what it is trying to do; 2) those who do read music and do not appreciate the Gregorian notation need to "get with the Church" and realize that this is part of our patrimony.

    Most people fall into one of those two groups. I find those that immediately accept the Gregorian notation and love it to be few and far between: it is a relationship you grow into.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,612
    hahaha

    sometimes, i just like to sit on the sidelines, say nothing, watch the rants and eat popcorn.

    ++++++++++++++

    I am always proactive before considering a position and I usually turn the table on the situation by asking the hard questions first. Here are a few of the questions I ask BEFORE applying. Most of the time, I find that it is a waste of my time and theirs once I find our goals are different to pursue things any further.

    1. Do you have a TLM and a schola?
    2. If not, is that something you are interested to incorporate?
    3. Do you have a contemporary praise and worship mass?
    4. What are your present pew resources?
    5. Do you have a choir?
    6. Do they have a library of octavos?
    7. What kind of organ do you have?
    8. Where is the organ... in the sanctuary or in the choir loft?

    Typical answers.

    1. No, but that certainly is a good question.
    3. Yes. Do you play drums? (just kidding)
    4. Breaking Bread on the Journey to Ritual Songs
    5. We used to, and we want to get that going again.
    6. What are octavos?
    7. I think we do! (could be a Hammond B3 for all they know)
    8. Down front on the praise band stage. Come to think of it, I think the organ is a synthesizer.

    You can pretty much surmise the entire lay of the land on those questions alone. Shoot straight, be honest and kind, discover what the parish wants... it should be the same thing you want... if it's not, walk away.

    Note that my questions find out if they value the basic three types of music appropriate to the liturgy without being direct: chant, polyphony and organ music. The last question gives me a general sense if their focus is on the liturgy or themselves, however, it is not a black or white observation.
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • PaixGioiaAmorPaixGioiaAmor
    Posts: 1,473
    I hope I'm not taking us off topic here, but I vehemently disagree that the notation system for chant is not important. Parishes SHOULD and MUST be exposed to Gregorian notation, for two reasons: 1) most of those who do not read music expertly find it easier to follow, or at least see what it is trying to do; 2) those who do read music and do not appreciate the Gregorian notation need to "get with the Church" and realize that this is part of our patrimony.

    Most people fall into one of those two groups. I find those that immediately accept the Gregorian notation and love it to be few and far between: it is a relationship you grow into.


    Well, I don't necessarily believe that people should never be given Gregorian notation. A couple times a year, I might have something in a worship aid in Gregorian notation, just because it was easier to include as opposed to putting it in Finale.

    However - I do disagree that this is a must. In terms of them needing to "get with the Church," that applies to the use of chant, not to the form of notation. Someone singing chant with modern notation in front of them is no less giving chant its proper place.

    We have an obligation to read and study the Gospels too. Does that mean that we have to study original Aramaic parchments?
    Thanked by 2kenstb Gavin
  • PaixGioiaAmorPaixGioiaAmor
    Posts: 1,473
    Francis,

    The trouble is, it's usually not that black and white at all.

    In my experiences, it's not going to be answers of "Yes of course we have a praise band, but we also have a Hammond organ in the back corner" and the like.

    The problems arise when things are far more nuanced. The place that I worked that was a nightmare had a pastor who would talk about having all kinds of appreciation for "real" music: "Oh, I love the opera!" and "There is nothing more heavenly than hearing a motet by Palestrina or Byrd right before mass!" and "I'm very moved on the Fourth Sunday of Advent every year when the choir and whole congregation chant the first verse of 'Veni Emmanual' in Latin a cappella."

    But when the rubber met the road, on the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, it was "Yeah, I mean, why are we singing all this chant type, Lenten sounding music? That's not what the youth need to be engaged."

    Of course all of this comes out in snippets during the interview process, leaving a musician to wonder if this is a place that has some fertile ground, in which you and they can work with some common ground, or if all is lost.

    And therein lies the problem.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW Gavin