Engaging children in sacred polyphony
  • Good afternoon
    I am a Choir Director at a Catholic Cathedral south on the mainlaind of Australia. I have received funding to establish a choir which will combine (auditioned) children from schools (Grades 3 - 6; ages 8-12) with older adults and specialise in Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony. The children we are recruiting may not be from practicing familiies, they have had little (or no) instruction in music theory and they are mostly confortable with repertoire from musicals (e.g. Finding Nemo) or popular music (Taylor Swift?). 'Building a Bridge' from where they are now to where we'd like them to be will take a while. I would value any tips about how this can be done e.g. are there particualr pieces of polyphonic repertoire that are easier to interest children in (and easier for them to learn - things like the Byrd 3 Kyrie for example). How do you teach kids this stuff, especially if they don't know much music theory? How do you get them interested in it? All ideas welcomed.
    Vincent Sully.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • davido
    Posts: 893
    Hi Vincent, I would suggest you contact the Pueri Cantores program if you are not already familiar with it. I know the leadership of the US Pueri Cantores federation would be very knowledgeable in answering your questions.
    Lucas Tappan (who may be on this forum?) gave an excellent webinar for Pueri Cantores USA in March 2023 about using choral repertoire to train choristers in theory, sight-singing, and musicianship. Perhaps they would let you view that webinar.
    Thanked by 1Vincenzo
  • Chaswjd
    Posts: 263
    I might suggest two things. First, why don't you concentrate on teaching them chant? That is probably the best starting point. At the same time, you might want to consider teaching them relatively simple canons. There are some of the Taize pieces and the Boyce Alleluia which can be done in canon. That should get them used to singing simple things while other parts are singing other things. Once you have that foundation laid, you can branch out from there. You might also look at the harmonization by Peter Kwasniewski of the Ambrosian Gloria. It has the chant in the upper voice.
    Thanked by 1Vincenzo
  • francis
    Posts: 10,703
    I might suggest two things. First, why don't you concentrate on teaching them chant? That is probably the best starting point. At the same time, you might want to consider teaching them relatively simple canons.
    This is exactly how I start from scratch with a group of kids, who have no experience singing excellent music

    Gregorian chant is “womb music”. Everything else is built on that.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw a_f_hawkins