Chant award system.
  • As mentioned in another thread.

    I was interested in a some sort of award system, as it helps me, the kids and especially the parents keep track of what is being learnt.
    Usually when children are learning music, playing an instrument etc, they are taking grade exams with some accreditation body. This helps the parents know they are making progress. The children I have coming to schola at the moment are from religiously practising families, who appreciate the religious content of what we do. But I am trying to attract children from less religiously committed families, so have been thinking about ways to package what I do to make it more appealing. Having an award/exam system is part of that effort, as is offering scholarships, so the monetary value of what is actually being given to the child is understood and appreciated. (Everyone qualifies for a scholarship ;-)
    I came across this scheme Voices for life by RCSM which is a very attractive scheme. For me it has two drawbacks - it is coming from an Anglican rather than Catholic perspective, (though I think they are open to any and all denominations using the scheme), and they are using modern notation as the basis for their study.
    Having read their materials for their level one award, I put together my own list of ideas to form an award, though I think their various modules are a useful basis and capture much of what one would want to do.

    I note the following:
    My schola is for 6-9 years old, they leave at end of year when they are ten.
    We have 5 terms - St Gregory term, Mater Dei term, St Thomas Aquinas Term, St Patrick term, Corpus Christi Term. The work on saints relates to the term we are in, and could be an adaptable element, could also include Parish or national patrons, musical saints , personal patrons etc. etc. The saints sheets consists of a colouring picture, a one page bio, or piece of writing from the saint, they write a prayer to the saint to pray for themselves.
    Our schola does not sing a Mass, thought we are following Jubilate Deo and learning pieces to prepare to be able to sing a Mass, musical choices reflect this, We do sing at Adoration, so for example this term , being St Thomas term we learnt Adoro Te devote. I think there could be a selection of pieces for each choir level which would allow directors latitude to pick pieces suitable for their situation.
    As with the Voices for life scheme, assessment is not done by external examination or all at once. The kids have a copy of the requirements, and as they complete elements it gets signed off for them. Some elements are just a matter of accruing sufficient time coming to choir, others are assignments completed at home.
    Elements requiring examination are done before or after class from time to time, as they express themselves ready. There is no pressure, if I feel the element is not ready yet I encourage them in their work so far, I might help them see what further work needs to be done (though usually they know this themselves) and express excitement that they are nearly there and I can't wait to hear it again soon!

    our kids have schola jumpers (and robes). Our local guiding association has a Church music merit badge, which has a picture of Gregorian chant, and I purchased some of these for use. With the simple addition of a Roman numeral, and by sewing them on with different coloured threads, the badges can be transformed into different coloured levels.

    Here is the badge: See the one called 'Church Music'

    Weaknesses and areas that need work still:

    I am happy enough with the elements concerning participation, learning things about choir, saints, adoration etc.
    1 )My concern is about the musical elements which is my weakest area. So far, because my schola are all beginners, I am happy with very simple elements, but to develop this to have ore levels would take more expertise than I have.
    2) I have found the Ward method very helpful, and wonder is there learning elements there which could become part of the award scheme, but don't want to make it unusable for teachers not using Ward, and also I am only learning that stuff myself, so work to be done there.
    3) There are other teaching materials out there - Words with wings, Noels books, etc; could they be included in some way as options? or as suggested resources?
    4) The RCSM scheme offers a teachers book as a guide for Directors, and a nice book for the student, which ncludes worksheets etc. I would like to get this scheme to the stage where is could be presented as a package like that, with the director choosing from among various elements, and the appropriate Students pages being downloadable. The choir could then have their folders, with their work for the term / year assembled in order, to follow in class or at home as homework.
    5) It would be nice to be able to jazz it up, with a website, and maybe even formal accreditation or links with somebody?, all the material for teachers and students downloadable for free, links to other useful sites, practice videos etc, maybe even a shop to sell the badges if we got so fancy as to design our own!

    I know there are lots of people doing music with kids in parishes here without support of any kind, and without training themselves, so the quality is problematic, and the Church's vision for music not well understood. The more this scheme could become a starting point and support for people like that the better.

    I attach:
    A Pdf of my list so far - Elements in the left column, ideas of assessment method on the right.

    Some of the homework sheets, also the musical elements we are covering in class as we study chant together, which form the basis of the musical learning for the level one award.

    (Please these are rough drafts, I have borrowed some elements/ideas from other peoples resources, or put them together myself.)

    I would welcome feedback - help - expressions of interest - large amounts of funding (just kidding) - any other useful contribution you might make.
    Would anyone be interested in developing this further and trialing it?


  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,438
    This is excellent, Bonnie! I love the Schola info booklet and the exercises. Our chant instructor has made some really fun exercises based on the chant notation. The students really love it. He composes sight-reading drills every week based on a particular concept such as the climacus or the porrectus. The students all want to volunteer to sing the drills first.

    I'm very interested in implementing your program beginning in the fall since we have a curriculum set for this semester already. Of course, I'd probably make a few minor adjustments since our schola sings twice a month at the EF Mass so we'd have to focus more on things like learning the chants of the Mass and the propers, but I can see how the structure of your program could greatly improve and fine-tune what we're doing now.

    Thanked by 1bonniebede
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,176
    Looks great. I do know that there are some Catholic parishes that use the voices for life.
    I think that one of the cool things for kids are the medals they wear - might be more attractive to kids than a badge.
    Thanked by 1bonniebede
  • bonniebede
    Posts: 753
    I am starting to upload the Award scheme I have designed for general use. It is now called Jubilate Deo Awards and you can find it here

    Any help, sugestions, materials collaboration on this project would be greatly appreciated.
    I know many of you have websites that would provide great resources, I hope you don't mind my linking to them, and any suggestions with resect to resources will be welcome.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • janetgorbitzjanetgorbitz
    Posts: 911
    Bonnie... would love to hear more this summer at the Colloquium. I am guessing there will be many interested in this program of yours.

  • bonniebede
    Posts: 753
    I am very happy to share with anyone interested. I am spending the preceding week with Fr Skerris in Washington doing Ward 1 so hope that will be a chance to develop and refine the idea somewhat.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen JulieColl
  • Inexpensive crosses or crucifixes that can be attached to coloured ribbons to wear around the neck over their vestments when singing at mass are nice awards. I have used these with several boys' choirs. A different colour of ribbon for each year of service has great significance to youth. Also, you can award silver or gold crosses based upon exemplary achievement, scholarship, attendance, head chorister, etc.
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,007
    Bonnie, thanks for this. I'm in the process of doing something similar here. We got a bunch of kids through Words with Wings this year with great success, but need some other things going forward. I know Nick Botkins at St. Francis de Sales Oratory in St. Louis has taken Voices for Life and just changed all the repertoire out to Latin. Here, we use vernacular and Latin, so that would be less of an obstacle, but we'll see.
  • Hildegard
    Posts: 30
    This is a great resource. Thank you for sharing! I'll be checking out this and some other mentioned resources for my family choir idea I mentioned in another thread. I imagine the parent/child pairs or groupings could work on it together, similar to Cub Scouts.

    This may be a dumb question, but the Jubilate Deo book you that a published book, or something you put together yourself?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,956
    Jubilate Deo was a collection of basic chants issued by the Vatican publishing house; first in 1974, then again in a slightly different edition, for the jubilee in 2000.

    This PDF file is a photocopy of the 1974 edition, except that the title page has been redone.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • hartleymartin
    Posts: 1,447
    I've often used Jubilate Deo as the basis for chant instruction, although due to local "conditions" I've often used the English versions of many of these chants such as "Godhead Here in Hiding" for Adoro Te, and "Sing My Tongue" for Pange Lingua and the new ICEL Chant Mass (though, I retain the Greek Kyrie)
  • bonniebede
    Posts: 753
    Yes Jubilate Deo is an official publication, first one in 1974, and a lateer edition in the late 80's or early nineties, which has an expanded repertoire.
    The 1074 version basically gives you one mass ( A MIX OF PIECES FROM VERIOUS SETTINGS) AND SEVERAL CHANTS FOR MASSS/ BENEDICTION/ other purposes. It is meant to be our minimum repertoire as catholics.
  • bonniebede
    Posts: 753
    oops. do I need to rename?
    jubilate deo award
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,956
    The term "Jubilate Deo" has been around longer than that little book, so I don't think anyone will claim a copyvio.
    Thanked by 1bonniebede
  • bonniebede
    Posts: 753
    it was the st louis Jesuits bit that bothered me. ;-)
    Thanked by 1Adam Wood
  • Newly updates Jubilate Deo Awards, with resources PDF's and so on. Feel free to use. White level award now substantially complete, designed to help beginning schola members of a younger age settle into choir, begin learning to sing and read music, both chant and modern notion using the Ward method, to begin to explore their role as music ministers in the Liturgy, and generally just to get settled in during their first weeks / terms.
    Helpful feedback apprecited - also if you have rtesources that you could share through this award system, let me know.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw CHGiffen
  • JesJes
    Posts: 522
    I too am working on an award system, however mine will be as part of my very raw beginner chant tutor method which I hope to have completed for "level 1" students by the end of the year. My kids are much younger (Some are as young as 2/3 years old) so a lot of it I have based on Kodaly, Swanwick and Montessori methods and the awards are done by presenting video recordings rather than written work, the children will earn frequent choir points for attending mass and singing hymns (they get these stamped out of a card) and my hope is that they get a ribbon system similar to that of RSCM as they get older and as the group grows.

    Whilst I know these methods aren't really religious music methods I do believe that they are applicable and work well for teaching both chant and modern notation reading and aural skills.

    Interestingly my studies have lead me to believe less and less in extrinsic motivation and more in intrinsic motivational tools. So maybe something like "when you reach this level, you can choose a hymn for us to sing later in the year." It won't matter if they choose something too hard or completely wrong time of year, you just sit down with your diary and plan it with them. Or when you reach this level you will receive an MP3 of the tallis scholars. Plenty of things they can get that aren't merit stickers, money or food!

    I don't know if you've come across much montessori stuff but I would recommend building your own chant mat! KIDS LOVE IT! We have been notating chant using vinyl neumes and manuscript made of vinyl. We have also used plasticine to colour code notes such as Doh=red on a table covered in black electrical tape lines for the stave. I am currently working on something more textural. Whilst I am working with very young children I personally believe that this stuff works quite well for me as they are too young to notate with pens just yet. It is interesting to see the results my youngest members have achieved when they have to place the next neume in the kyrie on the stave based on aural perception, it's actually hugely surprising that they can not only name whether it is a doh or reh etc. but can also place their neume correctly on the stave even if I move the doh clef!!!

    For something really big scale I am working making a large chant carpet so that the kids themselves become the neumes on the stave. They have to replicate the chant by jumping on the lines and spaces. It's a great physical way to learn and actually lots of the Montessori materials can be brought in and refashioned for use in the chant classroom.

    Hope this is helpful. I'm very much learning on the job too but I am loving my journey doing so!
  • Thanks for that interesting outline. Please do keep us in the loop re developments, I to am interested in a younger age group and would love not to be reinventing the wheel. I am a trained montessori teacher.
    Thanked by 1Jes
  • Complete workbook for Jubilate award system now online at
  • This is very nice... excellent!
    Thanked by 1bonniebede
  • Bonniebede,

    I've been reviewing this thread again, and perused the white level workbook. There are some elements I just love, and especially you have given me some great ideas for music notation games! I have recently felt so stuck in that area, of how to make learning music notation more interactive for them.

    I've been thinking also, that I might be able to help in some ways with the future levels, but I must admit it looks like such a daunting task to get it all together!

    I currently have a boys choir and a girls choir each of them ages 7-12, and a new youth choir of mixed gender ages 13-17 (w/ a few more serious/talented 12 yr olds thrown in). I am in my 3rd year with the children/youth choir program, and have 70 youth involved. I also, have used some aspects of the Ward Method, Book One, and also do a lot with the Gregorian Chant Workbook that is published by Angelus Press and distributed by the Cantius webstore.

    Due to the wider age range of my children choirs, I would love to see more in-depth music notation/theory covered in the workbook for the first level (learning all the neums & their names, bar lines, basic understanding of arsis/thesis, and groups of 2s and 3s; then for modern notation, learning all the basic rhythm values, rests, solfege w/ C major scale, letter names of notes on the Treble staff, some basic musical symbols, etc)

    Regarding your white level workbook, I understood how they earned their award for the Practicum, and vocal skills, but not so much for music composition/theory, and music ministry in its liturgical context.

    It would be great to have this resource also have adaptable elements for those who are in parishes with the TLM, like myself. Our parish is an FSSP parish.

    I'm sure there's more I could say/discuss, but let's start with all of the above. :-)
  • Thanks for the encouragement.
    The Awards system is a work in progress , so any help is welcome.
    Initially i had more of the theory material in, but i have taken it out again in order to allow for a more logical progression.
    The plan is that the award material works with the Ward teachers book from CUA = so White level award covers only what is covered in the first 7 chapters of that book. Hence t should only take from 7 to 12 weeks for the choir to achieve that award.
    Ward develops music notation as she goes along - the next level award which I am just working on will cover the next 7 chapters, by then the children will have a full staff i chant and modern notation, and be more familiar with notes with time values(round notes) and neumes(square notes). Again, this should occupy only another 7-12 weeks of the year.
    THen there is the last third of the Ward materials (all this is only in her year one book), which wil be the next level, which should be something you could complete within the choir year.

    by the end of yeas one the children (mine start at 6) should have a reasonable level of music reading skill as well as vocal skills, and will be on their way to being able to tackle the basic chants in the jubilate Deo book.

    because solfege is so useful for singers, it seems to me more useful a sill than absolute pitch note names, and also more transferable betwen round note and square notes, so that the kids don't develop any bias against chant notation, but equal ease with both.

    I also believe in the principle of only giving them material that they ca sight read, hence the beginning materials for singing are very basic, but the do develop rapidly, and the sense of empowerment in the children is awesome. We talked on day 1 about how someone used to read them stories when they were little, but now that they can read, they can read any book in the library. Similarly there are whole libraries of music, which they will be able to read for themselves. They got the idea straight away, and are eager to learn.

    Please do keep in touch. We are expanding to some ore parishes, so today we had our first study day for adults in the ward method materials. She designed it for teachers without a formal music background, and it is just so brilliant.
  • Some items for those using the Ward method or Jubilate Deo awards.
    Ward method songs given words suitable for Eucharistic Adoration hymns.

    I Worship thee Lord Jesus, Ward Song 17 with works by Littledale

    Doxology from Ave Maris Stella (Set to Ward song 18)

    O Jesus King of Love (Words by Rosemary Swords, set to Ward song 19)
  • Music for Jubilate Deo Blue level award (Ward method Book 'that all may sing' Chapter 8ff)

    Jesu Decus Angelicum, words by StBernard of Clairvaux, Ward Song 23
    Thanked by 1JulieColl
  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,438
    Love the visuals, Bonnie!
    Thanked by 1bonniebede
  • Hi all,
    Still plugging away at this. Amy Zuberbueler was an absolute inspiration this year at CUA WARD Center training, I cannot recommend getting this training highly enough.

    Anyway, we now a few new scholas in formation in Ireland, and so I am revamping our materials for the 'Choir Award system' to align them more closely with Ward Method materials.
    I also am packaging materials for a Weekly Ward lesson, as that is how any of us access the kids, so the daily lesson plans are not so useful.
    Some of the Ward Songs without words have had words added, so that i can have materials for a little 'concert' for the youngest ones.
    Other games, both indoor and out door are included.

    The files attached are - general instructions for Ward lesson elements based on Amy Z's superb 'cheat sheets'.
    Folder materials for the students folder to accompany the work, either to do in class or as homework, or just useful resources, including building their material for Eucharistic Adoration.
    Teaching notes for Weekly Ward Lesson 1, which deals with Book1 chapter 1 of the Ward Method books.

  • General instruction file does not seem to want to upload, but you can access it here, as well as the other materials