workshop for beginning teachers of chant
  • Hello,
    I've introduced myself before as having a musical background and a passion for Gregorian Chant but in the latter I am self-taught. I've started a Gregorian Chant group in our church. I have suffered a lot of push back from the priests which I did not expect, but because of the amount of people who show up (between 25 and 30 weekly), I have been allowed to continue and one of the 4 priests has allowed us to sing at the masses that he celebrates. Our first mass will be on the 17th Feb (vigil mass, 1st Sunday of lent). My choir members are between the ages of 6 years to adult.

    I find that I am usually, sometimes barely ahead of the choir members. Does anyone know of workshops for teachers (I don't have the courage to call myself a choir director) available either in Europe (where I live), Canada or US in English. I started with Missa de Angelis, but how do I incrementally increase their repertoire? If there isn't such a course, is there a book on methodology for teaching chant. I'm winging it. Thank you all, and thank you for resources on this site.
    Thanked by 2Carol CHGiffen
  • Cathy, first - congratulations and kudos!! May your efforts be well-rewarded!

    There are lots of courses and workshops that are available. CMAA typically holds a number of events that either have component sections on chant or that are chant-specific; individuals and other groups offer periodic workshops that I've seen. There are also numerous online resources.

    My first suggestion would be to search CMAA events through the parent site of this discussion forum as well as a general internet search of "chant workshops" - you'll see a lot of results pop up.

    Secondly, you may wish to check out certain websites that have chant-related resources. Corpus Christi Watershed ( has a number of invaluable resources, including playback files (sung or sometimes keyboard) of the entire Kyriale. You can also have some benefit to searching you-tube for specific chants - it is hit and miss, but there are some very good representations (as well as some dreadful examples) available.

    I mention the examples in case you are looking to learn pieces ahead of your group, or which may give you phrasing examples as that seemed to be part of your question.

    My strongest recommendation - something that will pay enormous dividends for yourself and for those you teach - is to work at sol-fege. When I work with new choirs, the first four years or so we always use sol-fege to work through complicated chants the first several times before we introduce the text. Sol-fege really extends the ability of the individual (and the group) to sight-sing any chant. (We also use it for polyphony, but it is a different animal in that situation.) Over time, the sight-singing of the group improves to the point where sol-fege becomes an ancillary tool rather than the primary one for picking up new chant... it is used where there is a difficult passage.

    The nature of music is often about understanding the scale upon which the music is based - the positioning of whole and half steps is fundamental before building on that for larger intervals. Each chant mode is based on a different scale - so spending the time on sol-fege pays large dividends in the development of the individual and the group.

    Best of luck to you in your endeavors, prayers for your success. Hopefully the above is of some assistance to you!
  • If it were me, I would focus on the following:

    Missa de Angelis
    Missa Cum Jubilo
    Missa Orbis Factor
    Asperges me
    Pange lingua
    Vexilla regis
    Veni Spiritus
    and other basic hymns especially communion hymns
    finally, basic sequences

    It would be a wonderful thing if the CMAA would ask key well known chant experts in each country to come together and form a network of workshops and publicize them for the year; listing location, date, time, level of difficulty, etc.

    Also, if I could afford it, I would locate the finest experts near you and ask if they would privately mentor you as an apprentice for a day or so.
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,137
    I think Jenny Donelson is having a *free* webinar on chant conducting on Monday! Check out CC Watershed for more details!
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • I don't know if you would find this to be helpful, either for yourself or for your group... it is something that I put together that covers very basic concepts of chant.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,914
    That does depend on where you are in Europe. In the UK there is an organisation called Gregorian Chant Network who have workshops and courses. No doubt there are many other groups.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,081
    Solfesh? Out here solfège or hyphenless solfege is pronounced solfezh.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,232
    CMAA offers a five-day "Chant Intensive" course every summer; we expect that it'll be held in June in Pittsburgh, on the campus of Duquesne University, along with some other short courses. The formal announcement should be out in a week or so.

    In past years there have been chant instruction programs at the Abbey of Solesmes in France, so if they are holding one this year, it might be more convenient for you.
    Thanked by 1mmeladirectress
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,137
    Here's a link to the chant conducting webinar that I mentioned earlier:
  • BGP
    Posts: 213
    Welcome cathystox, the CMAA's 'Chant Intensive' would be a great starting place as far as workshops go (but is in the US). Unfortunately I have no idea what workshops are available in Europe.

    I would encourage you to see if you can find someplace, within reasonable distance, using G chant and see if you can connect with them. Maybe sit through one of their rehearsals, or consult with them. Perhaps you won't approach things the same way but it may be helpful.

    The best book I've read on Gregorian chant from the point of view of the choir master is "Singing in Gods Ear" by Dom David Nicholson. Out of print but maybe you can find a copy.

    Also if you haven't already done so check out the many books in PDF on the musicasacra website.
  • David Hughes will be teaching CMAA's Chant Intensive this summer - June 18-22, 2018 at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh... That course has given many of us our start in directing chant choirs (I was a participant in the summer of the first class taught by Scott Turkington in 2008). (Still working on getting the website and online registration ready to go, but hope it won't be much longer).

    I'm sorry I do not know of similar courses being offered in Europe...
  • re: ccwatershed chant conducting webinar

    Drat... it was held on Jan 28 and I didn't see Irishtenor's post till Jan 29...
    hopefully ccwatershed will have recorded it and offer it on their site? :) :)
  • Thanks for making note of the webinar.

    There is an archived version available on the webinar platform, and you can still register for it after the fact, I think. Click here and then fill out the registration form. After doing so, you'll be able to see the archived recording of the webinar. I'm still able to receive questions, too, in case you have them.
  • All of you are so encouraging with so much information. I am going to pursue the many avenues that you have offered me. Thank you for taking the time. I am deeply grateful.
    Peace of Christ.