Written Test for Choir
  • This coming week, we're giving our adult choir a written test on music. For the choir we hope it'll be fun and different. No names are required so it's anonymous from the takers' side. For the DM and choir director it gives a picture of where choir skillsets are. In the course of the year we'll be giving 10-minute "theory" lessons each week. At the end of the choir year we'll give another test to see what folks have - and have not - learned.
  • That's a great idea. Directors tend to assume that everyone knows either nothing or everything. This will let you know where the biggest gaps in basic knowledge fall and then you can systematically patch them.
  • AngelaRAngelaR
    Posts: 309
    What a marvelous idea!
  • priorstf
    Posts: 460
    We gave our test tonight and the results were somewhat better than we'd hoped. Twenty people took the test resulting in a high of 100% (2 folks), a low of 30% (1 person) and a group average of 74%. It was done anonymously because the purpose was to discover what we need to teach this year, not identify the brightness of our bulbs. Based on results, the weakest area (far and away) is identifying key signatures. Time to roll out the Circle of Fifths somebody here mentioned the other day!
  • Like it, priorstf. Thanks for sharing!

    This summer I held 6 voluntary classes (two three week sessions) on very basic music theory for my choir, tailored to what choirs encounter most. Our weakest area seems to be basic rhythm and counting, by far. And it was eye-opening for them as well. They were able to come to the conclusion that learning new polyphony (always the dangling carrot) means real focus on their part.
  • By 'real focus on their part', meaning their part of the responsibility. They have to have some awareness of the other parts (sections) as well. :)
  • priorstf
    Posts: 460
    Last week it was a written test. This week after a 10 minute presentation on what constitutes a hymn, the question (homework assignment) was simple: What are your 5 favorite Catholic hymns. Fifteen people turned in their responses. (The rest will have bad marks on their permanent records.) Mind you that this is our main choir, not a youth ensemble, etc. Results are attached.

    [Edited to swap in a .PDF file for the .DOC file. Hopefully more readable.]
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,176
    Here's the list:

    6 votes:
    Ave Maria
    4:
    Amazing Grace
    Silent Night
    3:
    Battle Hymn of the Republic
    Hallelujah Chorus
    Holy God We Praise Thy Name
    O Salutaris Hostia
    2:
    Adeste Fidelis/O Come All Ye Faithful
    Come Holy Ghost
    Hail Holy Queen
    Holy Holy Holy/Holy Holy
    Lords Prayer/Our Father
    National Anthem/Star Spangled Banner
    O Lord I Am Not Worthy
    Panis Angelicus
    1:
    All You on Earth
    Alleluia The Strife Is Over
    Angels We Have Heard On High
    Beatitudes
    Danny Boy
    Gloria Patri
    Here I Am Lord
    Holy God Art Thou
    How Great Thou Art
    Immaculate Mary
    Jesus Christ is Risen Today
    Joyful Joyful We Adore You
    Like a Deer
    Lo How a Rose Ere Blooming
    Lord I Am Not Worthy
    Make Me A Channel of Your Peace
    Mary's Child
    Mother Dear Oh Pray For Me
    No Greater Love
    O Come All Ye Faithful
    O Sacrament Most Holy
    O Sanctissima
    On Eagles Wings
    On This Day Most Beautiful Mother
    One Bread One Body
    Only This I Want
    Onward Christian Soldiers
    Precious Lord
    Shine Jesus Shine
    Sing A New Song
    Tantum Ergo
    The Old Rugged Cross
    There Is A Wideness in God's Mercy
    We Believe
    Were You There
    When I Behold the Wondrous Cross
  • This week after a 10 minute presentation on what constitutes a hymn...
    What are your 5 favorite Catholic hymns

    Amazing Grace, Battle Hymn of the Republic, Hallelujah Chorus, Star Spangled Banner...need I say more?
  • music123
    Posts: 100
    Amazing Grace, Battle Hymn of the Republic, Hallelujah Chorus, Star Spangled Banner...need I say more?

    It could be worse. My pastor told me that when he was going to college in the 70's, at mass they would seeing "Leaving on a Jet Plane." Really.
  • priorstf
    Posts: 460
    juhorton - If you've ever stood outside the door of a Catholic church at dismissal, you'll understand why that one applies!
  • priorstf
    Posts: 460
    Tom - Give it a whirl with your choir and see what results you get. I suspect if you've been teaching all along there's a good chance that your responses will differ. This 10 minute session is the first catechesis of its type that I've seen in any choir I've belonged to in half a century of singing; I suspect there's room for at least another 10 minutes for all of us. But I really would be interested in comparing notes.
  • I shall do that, Priorstf, it should be interesting. This will be at my home (N.O.) parish where I struggle to reintroduce truly Sacred music all the time with some growing success. (BTW my wife is co-director of the music ministry, I am merely one of the singers.) It also provides me with a an interesting dichotomy when I go off to one or another schola rehearsal at the other (E.F.) parishes I sing at. My question to them, including my wife, is what constitutes a hymn or more specifically lturgical music as opposed to the "praise music" that is so often passed off as such, and they (the N.O. members) can't answer.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,176
    "Leaving on a Jet Plane": I think that was for Ascension.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,951
    I thought "Off He Goes into the Wild Blue Yonder" was for Ascension.
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 993
    I gave my women's schola the music test and am happy to report an average score of 80%. It did point up a couple of things they didn't know - and that might affect their music reading, so we'll cover those. Especially because I thought the items were "common knowledge."
  • Donnaswan
    Posts: 585
    I thought awhile before I did this- wasn't sure the choir would like it, but they did!
    I think, however that the question about the relative minor key was way too
    'out there'- most in my choir would have no conception of that . I think I will make up my own test soon as we get over Faure Requiem and All Saints,All Souls Liturgies.
    Donna
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 993
    All but one of my group missed the relative minor. And the distinction between a tie and a slur seems unclear.
  • don roy
    Posts: 306
    mjballou
    the fact your group missed the relative minor is suprising. everyone knows that a relitive minor is that annoying cousin under the age of 16!
  • priorstf
    Posts: 460
    Donnaswan - Glad your group did well. I deliberately tossed in some tough questions to avoid complacency. ("We aced it. We don't need no stinking classes.") The d minor key was also our worst. Of those who got it right, all but one wrote in "or F major"; most of the rest selected "key of B flat" showing a misunderstanding of key signatures. Something to work on for the year, at the end of which they will likely be presented with a similar question about e minor.

    mjballou - My understanding is that a slur is between notes of different pitches, reprsenting smoothness, whereas a tie is between notes of the same pitch indicating length. Our choir's not always to good on the smooth part ... nor the counting part, for that matter. It's turning the "knowledge" into the "applied" that becomes the true challenge.