Cantor Workshop Outline?
  • Does anyone have a cantor workshop outline I could use so I don't have to reinvent the wheel? I want to do about a 3-4 hour workshop. Just FYI I have a MM-Voice Performance and also some theology credits so I can do everything from technique to history of the cantor if you have something that detailed. Our parish has never had a workshop for cantors so it is desperately needed!!!! And I have been here almost a year so it is high time.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Carol
    Posts: 397
    Will it include nuts and bolts topics, such as proper use of a microphone? (Assuming you use microphones, the use upon which some here frown.) Interested to see what feedback you receive.
    Thanked by 1ValerieOestry
  • Hi Valerie: Please find mine attached to this post. At the end, I included music from the funeral and wedding masses, which we used to practice. Please share yours on this thread when you come up with it. Thanks!

    Edit: I added one in PDF format, in case anyone has compatibility issues with the various editions of Microsoft Office.
  • Valerie,

    I would divide the presentation into two parts: the purely practical details (what I call, sometimes, "How not to look like a foreigner"; the properly theological/spiritual aspect of the work, which might very well include some history, unless you're using the Ordo of Paul VI, in which case there's not much history to go on.

    I am one who frown on the use of microphones. If their use is deemed necessary by someone, I encourage you to treat them in the voice-production section of your presentation.
    Thanked by 1ValerieOestry
  • Carol, yes, nuts and bolts plus the rest. Chris, I frown on microphones as well, but there is just no way around it with the architecture of the space unfortunately. However, I train people without the microphone first, then show them how to use it as little as possible. The other great thing is that our Ambo and cantor areas are adjustable in height, so it will be great to show them how to use it so they aren't ducking behind them as a fortress. Other than that, these people have had no formation.....I can do it myself, I just thought maybe there was an outline on the history and spirituality floating out there. I find most of the pamphlets and books are woefully inadequate.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • Valerie,

    Here's a novel idea for you, to get around the microphone problem. When I was at Thomas Aquinas College in May for my son's graduation, I attended Mass (OF) in which the cantor sang from upstairs, thus being invisible to the congregation. None of us had trouble following the auditory clues as to when the end of a verse had been reached, and no one had trouble hearing him because of his location and the design of the building.

  • Chris -
    is this the Thomas Aquinas in California (I can't remember the city)?
    We've had a number of youth from Walsingham go there.
    Exquisite neo-Roman basilica.
    I shudder to think that, for all the beautiful attention to architecture, they probably don't have a real organ in it.
    I do hope that I am wrong!

    Valerie -
    You might find Christopher Page's magisterial tome, The Christian West and Its Singers, the First Thousand Years, to be both interesting and helpful. It is exhaustive, but you are sure to find useful information in it. Also, Edward Foley's brief book on the music of the pre-Constantinian Church discusses the early cantor and his resources. While not exactly useful as a practicum for modern cantors, these books discuss real cantorship in historical context and reveal just what knowledge and vocal competence the modern cantor has to live up to. As for the microphones - it sounds like you are doing the best you can with them. They are only needful in a poorly designed architecture.
  • Jackson,

    The same. The college is in Santa Paula, CA. The recent (Christmas time) "Thomas Fire" started a mile from campus, and my boys were there at the time.

    I've never been upstairs, so I'll have to look into that.
  • the cantor sang from upstairs, thus being invisible to the congregation. None of us had trouble following the auditory clues as to when the end of a verse had been reached, and no one had trouble hearing him because of his location and the design of the building.


    Chris, if it were only that easy - no loft :-( My church is a Pizza Hut with a cross on top as far as architecture. So we must overcome being stage right (and yes, I meant to use that terminology).

    MJO, thanks for the book suggestions! That is the kind of historical perspective I am looking for - the type I can read and glean a few things from, so they know that hey, we are part of a long history going back centuries and centuries.....(insert song about tradition here......) Plus I love the sounds of the early chant, such as this....

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=locW-9S00VU

    I want to expose my musicians to these things so they know we are so musically deprived in what we do, so limited, when people only want P&W. We need spiritual depth in our music again.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,299
    I've never been upstairs, so I'll have to look into that.

    Do you mean to say that, sight unseen, you one cannot tell the difference between a pipe organ and an appliance? Perhaps the purveyors of said appliances, be they Allens, Hammonds, Baldwins, Rodgers, et al., are speaking the truth when they claim that nobody can really tell the difference between the sound of an organ and that of an appliance. 'Tis a mystery.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Duck and cover, run fer yer lives...I hear a train a'comin', a 'comin' down the tracks.... it's
    JACKSON, JACKSON, y'say "appliance," some say "simulacra." Jackson say "I am become breath, destroyer of circuitry!"


    Ya hadda go there, Padre?
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • Fr. Krisman,

    Thanks for the opportunity, but I'm going to disappoint. What it means is that my hearing is so dulled (and, according to an audiologist some years ago, I'm missing parts of it) that I have trouble distinguishing sounds that some years ago wouldn't have given me trouble.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • Fear not, Fr Krisman -

    Anyone who actually listens to what he or she is hearing can tell the difference between an organ and an organ simulacrum, even of one of the very best of the simulacra. It is so patently obvious when sound is emitted from a speaker system which is filling a room with cleverly 'digitised' 'sound samples', and sound that is emitted from pipes whose languids and reeds are filling a room with living columns of vibrating air from within pipes. The simulacrum, the simulated organ, the synthesiser cannot sound 'like' an organ, it can only sound 'similar' to an organ. Because the sound source between each is quite different and wildly dissimilar the laws of physics will have none of it - for one to sound 'like' the other is physically impossible. Anyone who 'can't tell the difference' either has a tin ear or isn't listening carefully (or is fooling him- or herself). Electronically generated sound and that produced by wind flowing through pipes are worlds apart. The most advanced simulacrum can only sound 'like' a very fine recording played on a very fine speaker system, for that, essentially, is all that it is. All one has to do is actually to listen - to his pipes... or to his speakers.