Music Ministry Alive!
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,202
    I hope that got people's attention.

    EDIT: In response to a kind e-mail from a colleague on this forum, I decided to recast the question, especially in light of some of the responses.

    So, here's the new question:

    With offerings like Music Ministry Alive! being actively promoted by some folks in my parish, including the Youth Minister, what alternatives are there for young people who wish to become better acquainted with the fullness of the received traditions of the Church?

    Also, how does one effectively control the spread of some of the more suspect ideologies of David Haas within the context of a large, suburban parish?

    Read below to see some interesting posts, including the idea that CMAA should develop a more "youth-oriented" branch. (Ugh, I hate that term, but sometimes you must fight fire with fire!)
  • I have no experience with this sort of thing... Perhaps you could talk about a program you would like to do that would be more appropriate to what you're working toward with the youth and get it going?

    Perhaps you can build from your volunteer's encouragement in getting youth more involved in music and steer it toward what you'd want them to learn... perhaps a kids' version of a Sacred Music Workshop? It is a lot of work involved, but maybe it would have a long-lasting positive effect on the music program... if you and your parish are up for it, you could even perhaps get Jeffrey or Arlene or someone else who has had success with youth programs in their parishes to come up and help you with it... even open it up to other parishes in the area, perhaps. Phrased the right way, you could even give the volunteer credit for giving you the idea of planning something particularly with youth in mind. Maybe you can enlist her help...

    What is MMA, anyway? Never heard of it...

    One of the teenagers from Shreveport went to the National Catholic Youth Choir program last summer and absolutely loved it! She was a cantor and was also singing in the cathedral choir before I left... and I assume she still is... a bright spot for the future of Sacred Music.

    Certainly, if you could tell your pastor that you don't think the type of music at those other programs such as MMA will be appropriate to the liturgy and that perhaps parish monies could be allocated to a program whereby you could make it available to more teens than just a few...
  • OK... just googled mma and found their flyer on this summer's program... $450 per kid to attend for a week... would be much better spent to get them to the Colloquium, huh? If the parish pays for very many to attend, that could quickly cover the cost to bring a guest conductor to your parish and offer the training to the entire youth group instead of only a chosen few...
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,202
    [content deleted by poster]
  • perhaps this could be the impetus toward a CMAA focus on workshops particularly geared toward teens... I assisted in planning a workshop before leaving Shreveport and know it is a fair amount of work, but not impossible. How would the format be changed to appeal to teens more? I like the current format myself so much that I am stumped in thinking of changes that would be needed...

    My guess is, that if it were a weekend workshop specifically for and limited to teens, it could pretty much follow the standard format. ISTM that they might like something where they are surrounded by other kids, but the content could still follow much of the normal stuff -- perhaps less polyphony, since you would not necessarily expect them to all be able to sing parts well...
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,486
    I've found young kids to be very interested in chant. They think it's beautiful and it doesn't take too long before they can do it very well. I've found parents to be interested in involving their kids in singing, and kids to be interested in serving.

    (It helps to have some teenagers as well, for vocal strength and reading ability.)

    My advice is, start them younger than their teens. 8-10 year olds will be in the parish for another 10-8 years, whereas the teenagers will be gone in 4. Undercut the age curve, try to make the program self-perpetuating by building up leaders among the kids.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,530
    Here is an interesting story.

    I started an elementary youth choir in the fall. They are singing Jeff O's Agnus Dei, a round by Praetorius, and some original music of my own. They are ages 8-14. I also lead the Praise and Worship group. They are singing praise songs which are nothing but trite trash. [I can't wait until the P&W group hears the little children singing these excellent musics. Maybe then they will begin to question their own silly repertoire.] Of course, I have the P&W group singing chant and hymns to the guitar. Half of them are really liking it (the instrumentalists) and the other half are losing their identity (the amateur singers) and can't figure out how to keep their footing. It is a very interesting dynamic to watch. I guess it is kind of like 'hi-jacking' the music right out from under them.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    francis, it sounds like you are having so much fun. No wonder you are out there. I still wish you were in MD.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,530
    It is fun at times, but also a real challenge to win these people over to excellence. Here is another funny story. One of the instrumentalists in the P&W group told me "I used to play Bach fugues back in college, but I got beyond that a long time ago." Well, I was speechless. My timely response was to sit down at the organ as he walked in the following week for rehearsal, and I performed Bachs D Minor Toccata and Fugue as he came strolling down the aisle. (His only response was that he jumped in to turn the pages.) He has never badmouthed ANY excellent music from that moment forward.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    What instrument does he play, a tambourine? (I know that reqires quite a technique too.)
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Interesting, Francis, I was talking to one of my classmates this week and she said "I hate Bach". I asked why, and she said that the fugues sound easier than they are. I conceded the point.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    That's funny. Maybe she can make them sound harder than they are. (with sighs and grinding teeth... sorry)
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 992
    If it's any comfort, I "got beyond" a lot of things when I was in my late teens and 20's. After disco was dead, I wised up. (Okay, I still work out to the Village People.)

    It's just a slow process to move people from what they quite sincerely believe is "real and relevant church music" to any understanding of liturgical music. I don't care what anyone plays in their car, on their iPod, while washing dishes, etc. I only care that the music presented in the course of a formal liturgy be appropriate. With some people, it's going to be moving them from pop-style religious songs to decent vernacular hymnody. With others, you move further along. And day after day, you're confronted with folks who don't feel the least restraint in telling you what they don't like about 1,500 years worth of sacred music.

    Focus on the willing and able.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,530
    He plays the electric bass.
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 992
    Smoke on the water.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    francis, I hope you give him interesting notes to play. (somehow I never had a desire to learn that instrument. Myabe I should)
  • francis
    Posts: 10,530
    I think he should learn Bach's Suite for solo cello No. 1 in G major, BWV 1007 as a communion meditation. What do you think?!
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    that sounds like a great idea. He might like it (do you have to tell him it's Bach?)
  • francis
    Posts: 10,530
    No, you are right. I will tell him it is early Haugen.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,530
    Wow... look what I found on the internet!

    Here is the real thing. I am going to learn this for pedals this week.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    Early Haugen! I could not stop laughing this morning, until I got to the door of my church for mass (even then I had to try hard not to think about it.) Early Haugen,.. J. S. Haugen (sorry), surely I don't see off beat rhythm.

    Anyway, thanks for the link. How do you guys find just right thing at just right time in the internet like that? (It takes hours for me before I give up.)

    Can you play the piece on your pedals and maybe alternate parts with his bass? (I don't know the bass instrument much, but it might be interesting.)
    the music in pdf is all for flute, how fast is this piece?
  • francis
    Posts: 10,530


    I am a Googlemaniac. Let me know what you are trying to find. I will never have to purchase another score in my life. I downloaded the entire Art of Fugue and have been playing that for preludes the last month or so. If you want bach, almost his entire works can be found here:

    Since they are ALSO in midi format, I am able to import them into Sibelius and arrange them however I want.

    As for the Cello Suite, OK... I knew this piece was hopelessly non-idiomatic for organ pedals to say the least but I wanted to try it anyway. I played it last night. It is not easy as you have two large intervals right off the bat, (which really requires three feet). I had to use a completely contorted left foot with toe on G and heel on D so my right foot was ready for the B-A-B. With a little practice it sounded pretty smooth, although I wouldn't recommend a performance on the pedals. Use for pedal excersizes only!
  • Try playing them on trombone! :)
  • francis
    Posts: 10,530
    pipes... i would imagine that nearly impossible! is that your main instrument?
  • Yes. They are good studies to work on range and such. I think Bach rolls in his grave any time he hears any of us playing them, though.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    I love trobmbone. My boy played last year, but he quit because he says trumpets get more notes. I wish I know how to encourage him to continue.

    Francis, thanks for the offer. I will keep that in mind (You might be sorry though to find out how hopeless I am with modern high tech.)
    It's awesome that you can get all the music from internet. I didn't know that. All the Bach., I need to have my organ shoes back on soon. (haven't practiced for a long time.)
    I'll try that piece for pedals. But I know I can never do legato (even a 'pseudo-legato' ) from G to D.
  • Mia: Well, yes, the trumpet does get more notes. But there is also much more competition!
    Trombone is paying my way out of a DM/organist position. Yes, you did read that correctly. Even trombonists do get paid. :) What a blessing it will be to finally be a PIP again. So much less stress. So much more time to devote to the cello suites!
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    'Trombone is paying my way out of a DM/organist position. Yes, you did read that correctly. Even trombonists do get paid. :) '

    This sounds wonderful. I have to tell my boy. I just hope he has enough patients to go through and practice those few notes for his band.
  • Trumpets get more notes, but trombones get the best parts. There's nothing in the world better than a good bone section.

    Mike, who gets to play the bass bone on Till Eulenspiegel and Schumann 3 this semester.
  • Fun! Ah, Schumann 3........beautiful, and yet extremely nerve racking!! Till is tons of fun to play. Both I prefer in the section vs. at an audition. I got to play Mahler 2 this past fall, and boy was that amazing. I felt as if my career as a trombonist and my passion for church music all came together. :)
  • Yes, that lick in Till is still giving me fits. I'm a euphonium player by training and all that slide work is daunting. Fortunately I don't play 1st on the Schumann!
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,577
    janetgorbitz: "impetus toward a CMAA focus on workshops particularly geared toward teens"

    CMAA has a Promo Video.
    CMAA needs a Theme Song.

    And "swag" like buttons that read

    National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry (NFCYM)
    Member list is at

    National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC)
    resource materials for catechesis and youth ministry.
    publishers, speakers, performers, music publishers, advocacy groups.
    Convention booth (10x10) NON-member price is $650
    Thu 1200-4, Fri 1130-7, Sat 1130-7
    Sponsoring something (name on a banner hanging somewhere) costs a minimum of $1,000.
    There are four blocks (1:15) for concurrent sessions/workshops.
    No info available about who is presenting what.
  • Pes
    Posts: 623

    You are a smart, savvy man. I love your strategery.

    what alternatives are there for young people who wish to become better acquainted with the fullness of the received traditions of the Church?a

    None, if no one steps up with one. I feel this acutely. I could kick back and ride the waves of opportunity at my local university, or I could get off my duff and commit to offering regular workshops in my parish. I work full-time and have kids. Believe me, I feel the question acutely. I know the right thing to do.
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    Hmm, the most difficult thing I ever played on Trombone was Telemann. The attempt revealed to me that I could never make a real living doing this.
  • Blaise
    Posts: 439
    For those who don't like t-bone, try tenor sax---their parts are usually a mix of 2nd-3rd clarinet, euphonium, and trombone. There is no way in the world you can make a living with that instrument, unless you are really, really good at it. Can try doing street gigs. In band, the alto saxes get all the solos. Idk.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,530
    I am loving having our built in trumpet/flugelhorn player for the Easter season. What a dream!
  • JDE
    Posts: 588
    You know the definition of an optimist, right?

    -- a trombone player with a beeper.
  • eft: Thanks for the updated info about the NFCYM. I actually passed along the pertinent information about that program to a teen from Shreveport who attended last year (loved it) and will be going again this year.

    I guess I was thinking of something a bit more local and smaller in scale to this. Like a weekend workshop at a local parish that is specifically geared to teens, but focused on the beautiful music of the church -- something local CMAA members could plan in their own backyard without huge costs, or housing requirements, etc.
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,577
    janet: "without huge costs"

    I completed the "exercise" and returned to update the earlier post with the discovered data.
    The financial bar is high for any convention.
    The webpages identifying collaborating members, mission and goals, etc
    indicates that CMAA would be going into the lion's den.

    Perhaps taking highschoolers to a monastery for retreat followed by a workshop
    would be a better idea than bringing a chant workshop into a convention.

    The question remains in my mind "how do you gear it for teens?"
  • eft: I helped organize a weekend workshop in Shreveport about a year and a half ago... because we had parishioners pitch in to bring food/drinks/ etc. and made our own programs (11 x 17 sheets double-sided in booklet from copied on the parish copy machine), and other things, including misc. donations, our cost for the whole weekend was pretty low (which was a very good thing, since we had no money to speak of).

    I am thinking of that type of format... at a parish, using parish facilities, volunteers, etc.

    I envision that the main way you would gear it for teens is not to cater to them in the way mma does (pseudo pop music with haugen/haas prominently featured), but rather to limit attendance to teens or college-age. I think they will love and appreciate the Church's music as much as adults would, but would much prefer to do it among others of their own age. (I have no data upon which to base this opinion...). It would, of course, be essential that the guest conductor be a person known to relate well with youth choirs... funny, a bit entertaining and chock-full of anecdotes and information that will hold their interest.

    Just my (yet-untried) idea... it would require a great deal of effort and support among those involved in the teen catechism program (or Catholic school) in encouraging students to attend. Once you could get them there, I think they would love it.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    My teen years are less than five years behind me, so I may have something to contribute to this.

    I think the idea of making this "fun" for teens (high school age) is a mistake. Again, as someone who remembers high school, anything someone over 30 thinks that teens will think is cool won't be. I think present it as a serious program for teens ONLY and you'll draw them in. Don't forget to have pizza there!

    Perhaps part of why a teen program could be beneficial is that teens would prefer to ask questions among their peers rather than among adults. If they're all beginners, they'll feel comfortable with learning about the material and their curiosity will take control.

    I would also suggest that your average 13-17 year old is not going to willingly sign up for a chant workshop. Some sort of compulsory attendance could help, but may turn them off as well. What I might do, were I involved with such a group (say at a Catholic high school) is give a presentation on gregorian chant, teaching a bit of the history and repertoire, get them listening to and singing a little bit, and THEN say "I will be giving a full-day workshop in singing this, culminating in a performance at Mass, in two weeks. If you'd like to learn more, please sign up!" (and yes, I would say performance for a group of kids) Then those whose curiosity was piqued, and I think this could be very many, will attend.

    And drop the thoughts of polyphony. Teens won't give a darn about that. Chant is the way to go with the young. It's exotic, new, very different, and ticks off the parents. It's got "teen" written all over it.

    EDIT: Or, if you get desperate, just teach them some swears in Latin. That'll get them showing up!
  • Gavin: I agree completely about the polyphony. I have had very good luck in teaching chant (using square notes) to non-music readers in a fairly short period of time. Polyphony... not so much.
  • WGS
    Posts: 295
    agreed - no polyphony - but teenagers (and younger kids and adults too) can easily sing and enjoy something like the Liturgical Rounds compiled by William Tortolano. -- and yes, some are quite appropriate for liturgical use. Maybe they're still available from GIA as G-1600 and G-3389. Most likely, the newer larger compilation would be the only one currently available.
  • I purchased the collection of those rounds for use with my children's choir not long ago... I believe only the larger collection is available (or at least when I looked, that was the case). My little 6-8 year olds are getting pretty good at sticking to their section :)