Materials for a half-day seminar
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,193
    I have been invited by a priest to present a half-day seminar on sacred music to his parish musicians and those from the area; more of a practicum, if you will.

    Here's the structure that I'm considering:

    Morning prayer: featuring use of the St. Meinrad psalm tones for the psalmody;

    First presentation: overview of what the Church means by "sacred music", based on the wonderful CMAA "FAQ's on Sacred Music" pamphlet;

    Second presentation: overview of the more important documents of the Church on sacred music, some discussion regarding Roman versus USCCB documents; I will include some examples of how to make music selections within a typical parish paradigm that better serves the "mind of the Church";

    Third presentation: overview of music resources including the Graduale simplex, By Flowing Water, The Parish Book of Chant and the Gregorian Missal. During this presentation I'll demonstrate the different types of chant in these resources and have the participants learn some of it in preparation for a Mass that will close the seminar;

    Mass: incorporating some of the chants learned in the 3rd presentation. I'm thinking that it would be helpful to assemble a volunteer schola to actually sing the chant during the Mass rather than have the participants struggle through.

    I'd appreciate any advice, tips or observations from others who have done similar "overview" presentations.

    This is going to take place at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Miesville Minnesota on Saturday, Oct. 17. If you live in the area and can help by singing in the schola, please contact me.
  • Chironomo
    Posts: 29

    This looks like an excellent plan, although I wonder how long the "half-day" actually is such that you could present this much material. The "second presentation" could include a few examples from the items indicated for the "third presentation" without delving into the Simplex.

    We did just such a workshop last Fall, and the presenter was just a bit ambitious with the amount of material to be presented. The result was that the entire three hours was spent rushing through pages and pages of resource with no real discussion or understanding of what was being presented.

    I like the "how to make music selections within a typical parish paradigm that better serves the mind of the Church"... that topic could encompass all of the others....
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 989
    I think this is a great outline for a full-day workshop. If you do all this in a morning/afternoon only, they'll drown in material and information.

    I'd combine the first and second presentations into one. You'll have to spend a fair amount of time defining terms and clarifying the confusion between the lectionary and the graduale, etc.

    On the resources, give them a sampling of what's there, emphasizing the PBC and By Flowing Waters, as well as the vast amount of FREE material available on and Chabanel. This last may be very useful to folks with dwindling budgets and make them more willing to step outside the box.

    Give them a good annotated bibliography with links or send each participant a email with live links as a follow-up. (The latter will be more attractive since it will be "click to follow.")
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,193
    This is all very helpful advice!

    I've been thinking this over and am wondering if it wouldn't make sense to turn the regular afternoon parish Mass into the closing Mass for the seminar. That way we'd be applying the theories to a very practical parish situation and be able to use the "Sunday" liturgy as our target.

    Thanks MJ for the tip about the Chabanel psalms. I ashamed to say that because I've never used them I don't always remember that they're there! Perhaps that could be the psalm setting used for the Mass.

    All in all, I'm thinking that this could be a nearly full-day event with lunch in the middle.

    Please keep the helpful comments coming!
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,576
    Perimeter tables with at least one hard copy of every item you intend to talk about sitting open
    with enough space between so people can gather around each and browse during breaks.
    Tape a 3x5-card-with-book-title to the tabletop at each book spot;
    in case something wanders away you know what is missing.

    Two required books to put at the head of your list are:

    Internet access in the presentation room with at least one desktop with large screen
    so people can browse your hilighted websites during the breaks.
    Modify the browser settings on that computer so that the default home page button
    points to a file on the disk with the URLs you talk about.
  • don roy
    Posts: 306
    I like to start such seminars with a question/answer session such as "true/false...the church abolished latin" etc. i usually make all the statements false so as to see how deeply engraned the "progresive" brainwashing has been. this is a great way to gauge what your up against.
  • don roy, you cad you,
    I suspect your method works for you because you are one engaging, light-hearted and funny guy. But I could also see that approach, in other hands, being received ala "trying to catch flies with vinegar."
    What's clear to me is that most of the laity, young (as Gavin's pointed out) and old alike, AND most priests could care less about documentation and "ought-to-be's" that are technically "correct."
    I would give an eye if our pastor would simply schedule and preside over one solemn Mass in the OF in Latin among the 19 weekend/Sunday Masses. I would then wager the other eye that the numbers of congregants at that first Mass would quadruple by the fourth week, if everyone ministerally carries their own water with care, dignity and focused fervor.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    I would tend to avoid negative statements: don't do X, X is not appropriate, and so on. That will turn off whomever's done x. As much as I like Don Roy's True/False, I think starting off a workshop with "Hi, my name is ___. You're wrong!" may be a turn-off, although I think it may be profitable to phrase it as "many people think X, but actually Y." Same kind of dynamic, but less confrontational.

    I tend to think that a successful workshop will present chant as "another way" (the "NPM paradigm" so often lamented). Let them try it a bit, then they'll be hooked.
  • don roy
    Posts: 306
    charles and gavin
    good points! obviously how you present your "true/false pop quiz" is very important. my goal in so doing is to show people that 1. they usually have preconcieved ideas about what the constitution for the liturgy really sais and 2 those preconceptions (which are the driving force for all sorts of abuse) are usually wrong. I find that when these preconceptions are directly challanged, that people become way more open to what we have to say. it also helps to smile a lot.
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 989
    If you can treat their preconceptions lightly, go ahead. True or false? Do we sing in Hebrew? Of course, the alleluia and amen.

    I would be really annoyed if someone pointed out that I was brainwashed.

    I think the suggestion about the resources - spacing, labeling, availability for browsing - is wonderful and am filing the thought in my tiny brain.

    Gavin is right - present it "as another way." Oh no, I just agreed with Gavin. (Just kidding)
  • don roy
    Posts: 306
    mj ballou
    not to belabour the point but if anyone pointed out that people were "brainwashed" I would seriously question their people skills. My original suggestion presupposes a degree of common sense.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,279
    "Oh no, I just agreed with Gavin. (Just kidding)"

    ROFL. I have never met Gavin, but he sounds like an OK guy to me. As for the term "brainwashed," the old saying applies that it is often not what you say, but how you say it. Of course, I have reached the age where I don't always care as much about that as I once did.

    It is always a good idea to ask a few questions and find out where your class/audience happens to be. How much do they know, is it accurate, and what biases are they bringing with them? People can bring a lot of baggage with them. I find that remembering the terms see, hear, and touch helps me remember that these are the differing ways people learn. It's good to structure the lessons so that all three approaches are used.
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,193
    My hunch is that my audience will be made up primarily of very well-intentioned, hard-working, dedicated church musicians who will probably be more surprised than angry at discovering that there's a whole lot more information and "stuff" out there than they've been given via the "liturgical/industrial complex." (I'm also getting word that there are some seminarians from St. Paul Seminary who may make a little roadtrip to come to this!)

    Part of what makes me say that is an experience I had with a local musician who asked me to sub for her. As we were talking about the music to be used (all from OCP, most of it the usual hackneyed stuff we've come to expect), and I asked her about how many "verses" of the Lamb of God she usually does. She said, "Oh, three or four. We always put in extra verses like, 'Jesus cup of love', or something like that. Why, what would you do?" This opened the door for a bit of catechesis. I explained the documents, some of the confusion, and even talked about "bad" theology and how some of these seemingly innocent verses completely obscure or directly counter Catholic teaching.

    Her response? "How do you know all this stuff?"

    I said, "I read. A lot. All the time."

    Her next response is the one that angered, baffled and inspired me. "Oh, I don't have time to read all that stuff. I just do the best I can. I'm so busy picking music and scheduling cantors and just trying to keep the music program going that I just don't have time to do anything else."

    I can't say that I don't understand the problem. De-mystifying this information, where it's found and most importantly how to apply it to the average parish experience is what's needed here. Charity and clarity (ooh, a bit of alliteration!) will rule the day with most of these folks in terms of my presentation style. Do I think they've been "brainwashed"? No, I think it's more of a manifestation of the "Stockholm Syndrome" than anything else. These folks are over-worked and under-paid. In many cases they really don't have the time to study up on this stuff, and frankly (based on my recent unpleasantness) I think many parish "pastoral" staff members and clergy feel threatened and even jealous when a staff member begins really digging into the material they use, rather than just opening the catalogue, buying what's trendy and using it because it happens to be what their colleague at St. Suburban's-Down-the-Block happens to use, and she's really popular in the deanery.

    Go to my blog ( and scroll down to the entry announcing this little project. It should give you an idea of what I'm up to and how I'll go about doing this. These folk deserve our help and attention. They've been deprived of the fullness of the information out there, and have been caught up in a very compact sales and marketing gimmick by the "big three." I think it's time we take seriously the work of mercy that asks us to instruct the ignorant, that is those who are ignorant not out of willfulness but out of manipulative treatment by the progressivist elites.
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 989
    I agree with David that most folks just don't know and I look forward to hearing how this project goes.
  • Bumping this back up.

    Here's the text of the flyer/poster that's going out:

    Sacred Music
    The Reform of the Reform

    A Day of Reflection

    St. Joseph Catholic Church
    Rev. Fr. Jay Kythe, Pastor
    23955 Nicolai Ave
    Hastings, MN

    Saturday, October 17, 2009
    9 AM o’clock until 1 PM o’clock

    Presented by Dr. David E. Saunders

    Join Dr. Saunders, a serious-minded Catholic and a sacred musician committed to the “Reform of the Reform” and the reclaiming of the uniqueness of the identity
    of the Catholic Church, as he shares his experiences and learned insights into the “mind of the Church”, the development of music and liturgy in light of the documents of the Church before and after the Second Vatican Council, and the future of sacred music and the liturgy .

    Here's my outline for the morning:

    Day of Reflection Schedule

    8:30 AM Gathering, registration. Coffee and rolls

    9:00 AM First Presentation (Reflection on my formation development of my understanding of the meaning of “reform of the reform” and what it means to be a “sacred musician” versus a “pastoral musician.”)

    9:45 AM Break, mingle and questions. Coffee

    10:00 AM Brief overview of the documents pre and post Vatican II, including the distinctions between binding legislative documents and guidelines. Will also include “FAQ on Sacred Music” from the CMAA

    10:45 AM Question and Answer

    11:00 AM Putting it all together; review of preparation resources and approaches to selecting music appropriate to the liturgy and in keeping with the “mind of the Church.”

    12:00 Noon Concluding remarks; question and answer period; lunch.

    Of course if any of this runs over schedule, we can go with it, since we’re not trying to fit in a Mass. I want to give everyone a chance to share their experiences, ask questions and look through the samples of various books and resources that I’ll put out on a table.

    I've taken out much of the "hands on" Gregorian chant singing, mainly because that's a specialty I'd rather save for it's own seminar, led by someone with greater experience. The purpose of this seminar is not to show people the "whole elephant", especially since most of them will never have seen an "elephant" before. If I overwhelm them, they'll shut down and won't get much out of the day. This way, I'm whetting their appetites, encouraging them to dig further and learn more.

    Fr. Kythe reports that he has people from 5 area parishes showing interest in attending!

    Maybe some of them will end up as regulars here!
  • David Andrew: We had just such a "resource" list in our chant packets for the very successful workshops in McLean, VA, in 2007 and 2008, with a resource table of each document so that registrants could browse each title. The concept was to provide people with a starter list to pursue self-study, after having two days of excellent instruction from Scott Turkington. (And yes, do put your name in a conspicuous place on the materials if you are providing your own personal copies. My own experience was positive: no-one attempted to "walk away" with any of the materials, and were grateful to be able to see items before they purchased them.)

    I gave full bibliographic citations for each title, and put asterisks by each title that was available for download or purchase from CMAA. For others, the people could contact the publisher or seek the titles through book sources like We also had books and CDs for sale, both years, through the good efforts of Gary Penkala (canticanova publications), Marian Smedberg (Understanding Latin), and Ann Marie Mitchell (A Gregorian Chant Master Class via the Abbey of Regina Laudis). We used the same list at the Fall Pilgrimage/Gregorian Chant at the Shrine this past weekend, but did not provide the samples to browse through.

    Best wishes to you for a successful event!

    Elizabeth Poel
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 989
    This looks good. I like the "serious-minded Catholic."

    You may have more questions than time to answer them - and many questions that you will have answered in the presentation already, but the questioner didn't make the connection. You can promise to "follow up" or the "see me about that when we're done" routine. Just be prepared.

    Make sure you show them the elephant's sweetest side!

    We'll be waiting for a report.
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,576
    So David, how did it go?
    Can you give us a quick "headlines only" report?
    Of course we are insatiable and
    we will be looking forward to the "full story at 11".
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,193
    Well, it's been a busy couple of days. I presented the workshop on Saturday morning, and then had to prepare to play the voluntaries for Sunday Masses at St. Louis King of France in St. Paul where my good friend and colleague serves as organiste titulaire de l'orgue Cassavant . Today I played for the noonday recital at St. Louis and am preparing to head back to Ohio via Amtrak.

    The "day of reflection" on Saturday was an intimate gathering, made up of the music directors of the two parishes under the care of the priest I was working with, and also included volunteers from the music ministries, about 16 in all. There was also a Theology III seminarian from St. Paul Seminary and a local "supply" priest in the gathering. Only the directors acknowledged the ability to read music, and indeed none of them (save one of the music directors, the seminarian and the two priests) had read the documents of the Church regarding music and liturgy.

    I began with my own background, what I had come to understand as the purpose of sacred music, and why I considered myself a "sacred musician committed to the reform of the reform." I shared with them what I meant by those terms and how I had moved from a more typical "spirit of Vatican II" understanding of them to deeper understanding of the intimate link between music, liturgy, the formation of souls, and the teaching and "mind of the Church".

    After a break I presented a list of the documents, (including web addresses where they could be found on the Internet for free), divided into categories: official documents governing music and liturgy from the Holy See, guidelines from the USCCB (and the importance of recognitio in determining whether a document is binding), writings of the Holy Fathers, articles and commentaries and finally, informative links (including to and this forum). Part of this segment included a lively discussion about the importance of using the texts appointed for use in the liturgy rather than freely-written texts. Several people sitting at the back were members of the "contemporary ensemble" of one of the parishes and took exception to an article I quoted from that took issue with the text of the song "Table of Plenty." They suggested that the music and text were "meaningful" and gave them "warm fuzzies". I think it was beneficial, as the Pastor and others weighed in on the importance of music not as a means of eliciting emotional responses but rather in properly disposing people to participate in the liturgy, both internally and externally. ("Full, active and conscious participation" was discussed in this segment).

    There was also discussion about Benedict XVI's important work to bring about a "hermeneutic of continuity" out of the rupture created just after VCII. This became important in our final section.

    After one more break we came back together and I shared some ideas about how to introduce chant, select music and texts more closely connected with the liturgy and therefore the "mind of the Church" and resources they could consult apart from the material (hymnals, music and planning resources) made available from the usual sources (OCP, GIA, WLP and the others). The books I shared included the Gregorian Missal, Parish Book of Chant, By Flowing Water, and Graduale Simplex. I stressed the importance of a "brick by brick" approach. I explained that great care needs to be given to the process so that we do not, in our attempt to bring about the reform of the reform, commit the same sins against charity that were committed by those who have created, facilitated and permitted the hermeneutic of rupture to occur and continue over the last 40 years.

    A wonderful luncheon followed, and some discussion at the tables continued.

    It was a good experience all around. I'm sure I made mistakes, but the priest I worked with was very kind, reassuring and supportive. He hoped that there could be future seminars presented by others in the field, and I was honored to be the first.