You’ve done the piece a million times….but somehow still manage to mess it up
  • CatholicZ09
    Posts: 109
    I had one of those moments as a cantor on Saturday evening when singing Fr. Chepponis’ “Holy” from his Jubilation Mass. I’ve probably been a cantor numerous times while we’ve used this setting, but for some reason, on Saturday, my mind wanted to sing its own rendition of Fr. Chepponis’ setting. LUCKILY, our celebrant was very loud in his singing, so it was easy to get back on track. If it was one of our other priests, I think I would’ve derailed the entire congregation.

    At this particular church, cantors sang in the choir loft under the former music director. The new one wants the cantors in the front. I have to say that moments like this make me miss the loft—at least I didn’t have to look at everyone in the eye after flubbing a piece.
  • CatholicZ09,

    I don't know Fr. Chepponis' Jubilation Mass, but, mistake-coverage aside, why does your present music director want everyone down front?
    Thanked by 1francis
  • CatholicZ09
    Posts: 109
    Chris,

    There are a lot of factors that could have caused this change. It could’ve been any of our clergy or solely the music director that wanted the change. My prior music director liked us in the loft to avoid having more people than necessary in the sanctuary. We have some vocal clergy, so I have a feeling that it might not be the current director’s choice 100%. The other churches in the parish have the cantors in the front (none of the others have lofts), so I think maybe this is for the sake of “unity.”

    I miss the “loft days” because I could be inconspicuous. My parish did well with the cantors in the loft, so I don’t agree with the notion that the cantor needs to be in the front to encourage congregational singing. I honestly feel as if I’m more of a distraction than anything because I’ve been in the loft, and this sudden change of being in the front would be jarring to me as a PIP.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,611
    In principle the cantor/s should be in the sanctuary, otherwise ancient rubrics would not call for them to be vested in copes on great occasions.
  • Note the presence of purple
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,169
    I kept cantors in the loft for 20 years until I retired. I don't know why, but even the best cantors seem to ham it up when they are in front of people. Go figure.
    Thanked by 2ServiamScores CCooze
  • ham it up when they are in front of people.


    answer your own question, maybe? One reason the priest shouldn't make eye contact with the faithful is that he's tempted (thereby) to think anything at Mass is actually about him.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW CCooze
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,463
    Musicians and ego. Check.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 826
    I had a life-long cantor mess up the words of the Kyrie (in English, to boot) two weeks ago. It was the second time she’s done it, too.

    Heaven help me. Lol
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 1,150
    When I am a solo cantor for a Mass, I have like 4 different books/hymnals/missals open to the various spots in the Mass, just because I'm sure that sometime my mind will wander and I'll sing something wrong. It can't happen if I'm singing everything straight from the book - as liturgies should be - rather than like it's a song I'm singing from memory.

    Being in the front is awful, such an awful idea.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,169
    As far as messing up something I have done a million times goes, it easily happens. I think my mind kind of tunes out and I am operating on auto pilot until something distracts me. Then I mess up.
    Thanked by 3MarkB CHGiffen CCooze
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 826
    One of the very first things I did when I arrived at my current job was to move the cantors from up in the front of church to up in the organ loft. The distance made communication difficult, and furthermore I really do not believe in holding up your arm when it’s time for people to respond… we are all intelligent adults and it’s the same pattern just about every liturgy… you know when to sing…

    One of the cantors in particular was very grateful that she didn’t have to sit in the front anymore. There were a few other people who would only cantor once every blue moon because they felt like they were sitting in a fishbowl whenever they cantored from the front; they were willing to sing more often once I move them up to the loft.
  • CatholicZ09
    Posts: 109
    I hate the awkward stares when I’m in the front. It’s much easier to focus on the Mass when I’m in the loft.

    Then there are those moments where you catch people smirking and/or giggling. Is my fly down?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,169
    Again on the music you have played a million times, one of my organ profs once told me that many of us are not really paying attention when we practice. We may be going over our grocery list, thinking about other issues, and mentally not paying attention to the music. Then at performance time, all the mental stuff is gone and we are playing in different sets of distractions. It is the new cues that throw us off because the old ones are now missing. Could be. I thought she had a point. She said to pay attention to all that we are hearing, seeing, and feeling while practicing.
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 1,150
    I was just reading, the other day, a piece about how to most effectively practice.
    Sort of along the lines of what Charles said you forget to control, you have to do things differently each time to fully embrace and learn a piece and to be prepared for anything that can be changed when the actual performance comes around (like an excited director or something).

    However, I still think that the liturgy isn't just a performance, and it's best to actually be paying attention to your liturgical books when at all possible.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • vansensei
    Posts: 161
    For those of you who remember music juries from university, the title is very apt.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 826
    Ain't that the truth...
  • Carol
    Posts: 679
    CharlesW since apparently Stimson isn't here, it falls to me to ask why were you imprisoning the cantors?

    "I kept cantors in the loft for 20 years"

    I prefer to be in the choir loft, but I have found that I can attend to the Mass better when I am down front. Location doesn't matter, I will occasionally mess up and I just recover as quickly as I can. It keeps me humble, I hope.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,169
    Carol, if we all had professional looking and sounding cantors, there might not be a problem. When they want to perform and be noticed and even dress inappropriately, then there is a big problem. They are not supposed to be the center of attention nor create a distraction.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 334
    All the musical instruments that are attempting to produce sound simultaneously should be in the same place, whether that’s singers or organs or trumpets or kazoos. The cantor should be at the same end of the building as the accompanying instrument. In no other musical situation would anyone tolerate a singer 200 feet or more from their accompanist. It’s just sloppy and impossible to produce a musical product of high quality.

    My preference is for the singers to be in the liturgical/architectural choir, as at any of the great European churches, with a suitably gentler organ there to accompany them, and a larger organ high on the west wall to play with the congregation and for solo music. That’s the best situation acoustically for all involved. Choir lofts in the other end of the building are nontraditional, acoustically bad, and liable to make the choir and the congregation forget that the choir has a truly liturgical role. But if that’s where the organ is….
  • I agree with Gamba. The singers belong with the accompanist, even if it is more traditional to have them in the front. You end up with too much delay if they are apart. Also, if you need to communicate, it's much easier if they are all in one spot.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW Carol
  • Caleferink
    Posts: 356
    As for screwing up things I've done a million times - from this past Sunday:

    "All hail the power of Jesus' name! Let angels prostate fall..."
    AND
    "O that with yonder sacred thong..."
  • Carol
    Posts: 679
    I completely agree about the accompaniment and choir or singers being in the same place. Cantors used to go down to the ambo for the responsorial psalm (NO) and there was a small speaker which kept the organist and cantor in time with each other, but I was much happier when we stopped that and now we chant the psalm from the choir loft. I hated slinking up and down the side aisle staring at the floor while attempting to be inconspicuous.
  • CatholicZ09
    Posts: 109
    I don’t think anything will ever top my slip-up during “The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came” when I accidentally sang “Most highly flavored lady.”

    Gloooooooria!!!
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 826
    Carol, and nothing is worse when there is an exceptionally short epistle and the cantor isn't back up to the loft when it is time for the gospel acclamation, or they have to scurry and arrive too winded to effectively sing.
  • Serviam, that is why I would never make a cantor sing the psalm from the front. And even if it is a longer second reading, I still wouldn't so they don't have to catch their breath from doing the stairs.

    Edit: Fixed typo.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW Carol
  • trentonjconn
    Posts: 181
    Singing from the sanctuary is all well and good (and even preferable) if you're a choir of clerics. Short of that...
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 968
    I’ve probably been a cantor numerous times while we’ve used this setting, but for some reason, on Saturday, my mind wanted to sing its own rendition of Fr. Chepponis’ setting. LUCKILY, our celebrant was very loud in his singing, so it was easy to get back on track. If it was one of our other priests, I think I would’ve derailed the entire congregation.


    [Purple On]This is called 'being human'. It is a terminal condition. [Purple Off]
    Thanked by 3CharlesW CHGiffen Carol
  • CatherineS
    Posts: 614
    Despite a perfect rehearsal I totally squawked in the middle of a piece last Sunday. Just missed an interval and then lost my concentration and lost my place. The others got briefly derailed and then jumped back in to continue without me.

    I once lost my place and just made something up, but the (young) organist knew and nearly fell off his seat laughing.
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 1,150
    I didn't squawk on Sunday, but I did sort of choke out the vowel I was supposed to be singing.
    The initial "si" of "Sicut cervus" is just such an ugly vowel to hold at the beginning of a piece of music.
  • Corinne,

    Surely, you darken the vowel by moving it back, and don't sing it on your teeth?
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 1,150
    Chris, I apparently just choke on the actual vowel after the "s" comes out...
  • That sounds painful.

    Let me make an unwarranted assumption: You'd like to stop doing whatever it is that sounds like an ugly vowel or choking.

    Does my expression "darkening" the vowel make sense, as distinct from choking on it?