Children's choir to learn chant... need ideas
  • Darcy
    Posts: 73
    Hello experienced ones,

    I've been asked to teach our children's choir to read neumes. Any ideas on how to accomplish this? They are a mixed group of about 20 kids from 9-13 years old. The Ward method comes to mind but I only know what I learned from the intro course at the colloquium last year. It seems like that's a good long-term strategy. Any ideas to get them started singing some chant right away? Any ideas of what you would do if you had a choir like this to work with and your pastor is thinking of starting a Latin OF Mass this fall? (just edited, that is an ordinary form Mass).

    Thanks for your help!
  • WGS
    Posts: 226
    As to the neumes - seriously - from left to right and from down to up. That takes care of the progression of pitches. The rhythmic signs and rests are easy enough to understand.

    Many of the kids will already have a feeling for the major scale, so just be sure they know where the semi-tones are located on the four-line staff. Then, direct according to the ictus, and that takes care of phrasing.

    They'll tend to sing by ear anyway, but eventually they'll relate what they're singing to the neumes on the staff.
  • john m
    Posts: 134
    I would suggest having them sing a melody they already know from Sunday Mass - the Preface Dialog, perhaps? - from chant notation. The intervals and rhythm of it are already in their heads, so you can then point out how the notation illustrates this. Then these principles can be applied to a new melody from scratch.
  • Darcy
    Posts: 73
    Thanks for the suggestions!

    They do know the Sanctus and Agnus Dei (jubilate deo) already, so reading those from neumes would probably be a good introduction to square notes. This will be interesting... I have a feeling it may end up being easier than teaching adults.
  • Jevoro
    Posts: 108
    I work with 6 childrens on the Neumes of St Gall on a table board disposed in diastemie.

    (Je travaille le chant grégorien avec 6 enfants, en utilisant un grand tableau sur lequel j'écris ce qu'il y a à chanter avec les neumes de St Gall disposés en diastemie. Ca marche pas mal.
  • OlbashOlbash
    Posts: 310
    I've had my little Protestant children sing "Veni, Veni Emmanuel" and "Ubi Caritas" every year for five years now. At this point, it's a badge of honor to be able to sing them from memory! It will take time, but I guarantee that it will come, and the children will LIKE it!!!
  • Darcy
    Posts: 73
    Thank you. I'm not sure what diastemie is...?

    Olbash, that must be such a sweet sound. I am looking forward to this. And to have the children singing the Latin and the chant, how can the adults protest (as a few may be inclined to do).
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,177
    Great resource for quick introduction for children.

    Square Notes Workbook in Gregorian Chant
    by Sister M. Judith, OP
    Angelus Press

    http://www.cantius.org/go/webstore/product/square_notes_workbook_in_gregorian_chant/

    You could easily put these lessons on an overhead projector.
  • Jevoro
    Posts: 108
    Diastemie? C'est la disposition des neumes à différentes hauteurs pour exprimer les différentes hauteurs des notes.
    Don't ask me to tell you that in english...
  • Darcy
    Posts: 73
    OK Jevoro, je comprend maintenant. The placement of the neumes and how they relate to the pitches. :-)
    Thank you.

    Francis, thanks for reminding me of that resource.
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    The high school kids I teach love the Regina Caeli ! Every time!

    We have also done others: Angelus (mode 4, based on Charpantier), Salve Festa Dies, Christe Fili Dei Vivi, etc. etc.

    But Regina Caeli is their favorite of all.

    One possible organ accompaniment is here:

    organ accompaniment to simple REGINA CAELI

    #4312

    REMEMBER — high school kids will ALWAYS pretend to hate it at first, but it always turns out they secretly love it!!!
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    With the fles below, remember that the auto-Mp3 player sinks the files by a whole step

    Here is a ninth grader at John Paul II High School singing the REGINA CAELI

    Regina Caeli Mp3

    taken from: Chabanel Psalms

    And here is a ninth grader singing a Chabanel Psalm:

    Easter Chabanel Psalm

    Taken from:

    Chabanel Responsorial Psalms

    And here is a ninth grader singing a simple Kyrie:

    Kyrie in honor of Holy Richard Thirkeld

    Taken from: St. Antoine Daniel Mass parts

    And here is a ninth grader singing an Alleluia:
    Alleluia before Gospel

    Taken from: St. Antoine Daniel Mass Parts
  • Jevoro
    Posts: 108
    What's that quite strange -for european ears- prononciation of latin. Learning with children has the advantage that they are still able to learn new colorations of vowels (??? voyelles, Auslaute) and .. consonnes (Anlaute)... but thatfor they need a well prononcing teacher. (You may argument, that even adult persons should learn their english before critisating...)
  • Darcy
    Posts: 73
    Jeffrey,

    The 9th grader has a beautiful voice! Thanks for sharing those files. You have provided a great resource with these settings. Hopefully we'll someday be able to break away from OCP-provided materials and start trying some of these.
  • OlbashOlbash
    Posts: 310
    Jevoro,

    The vowels sounded correct to my ear, except for the common error of pronouncing the last syllable of words like "laetare" and "Kyrie" as diphthongs, as in the English word "day." What country are you writing from? I know there are different pronunciations of Latin in different regions of Europe. (I remember auditioning to conduct an early music ensemble that could pronounce five different dialects of Latin... needless to say, I didn't get the job!)
  • Jevoro
    Posts: 108
    Neither i would get it... I'm from Luxembourg, and during studies in Germany and France i was learned the prononciation of... classical latin (in school) "Kaäsar" "Uirgo"... german pronociation: Reg(no:j)ina... french prononciation (lowlow: omnipotence déous) (better: Rejina)... préconciliar prononciation: ditschit miki... messian (from Metz) pronociation: dizit mihi zelebrare... that's it.
    But your american vowels bless my ears, in deed... but thats doesn't matter. Just my personnal sensibility. Should become more tolerant. (My tolerance for G/V/C is wellgot, why should the tolerance for O/A/I not folow?)
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    Are there any children's chant CD? It's always good to have them listen to beautiful children's singinging.
    Mia
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    As mentioned elsewhere on this forum, "O lux beatissima" from OCP, with (I think) Dean Applegate directing, has examples of men's, women's, and children's scholae in standard chant repertory, both accompanied an unaccompanied.
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    Yes, it is a fantastic CD
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    I just ordered the CD from OCP. Thank you for the info. Is there any other, perhaps only children singing?
    I also have another question. Boys in middle school age with changing voices, do they sing in falsetto, or one octave lower? (I don't have an experience teaching that age group to sing. My own boy who is 12, sings octave low all the time now. I don't know whether I can have him in my cnildren's choir)
    Mia
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    Mia, can u send me a private E-mail? jerome ddoott lalemant aatttt gmail dddooottt com I have a site you might enjoy
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    Hi, Jeff. Where or what is your email address?
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    hi: my E-mail is:
    jerome ddoott lalemant aatttt gmail dddooottt com
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    oh for goodness sake, Jeffrey, write your email address like a normal person. Gmail takes care of the spam problem.

    jerome.lalemant@gmail.com
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    The cambiata (changing voice) can have two or more registers, and it is not uncommon to have large gaps in between, where at first it seems phonation is not possible. At this point in vocal development, the high range is not really "falsetto," but just part of the natural voice. I would suggest staying in the high voice as long as physically (or socially) possible, trying to bring the good qualities of the high voice downward. I would not, however, suggest having a boy sing in "falsetto," i.e. singing beyond the range of the modal voice, after the natural voice has settled lower. If children receive proper musical education, they should be able to sing two- and three-part music, solving the problem of different voice ranges singing in unison, by the time the issue of changing voices arises. Maybe you can start with parallel organum with harmony a fourth (or fifth) below!
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    Sorry, Jeffrey: I was just trying to be clever. :-)
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    So, if the boy is already settled with lower range and don't have proper training, maybe I would not take him?(at least until the schola starts to sing quite well.) Because having him sing organum or different parts is going to be a risk job for the beginning group.

    Thank you Jeffery, I was a bit confused about the email address, and finally figured it out.
    Mia
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    Exactly. Children's choirs are for chilrden's voices. It seems pretty obvious, but sometimes it's hard to explain that fact to parents and teachers. Non-musicians are often surprused to learn that men and women sing an octave apart. With the changing voice, however, it's likely that singing in octaves (which is not ideal for your choir anyway) will not even be possible. Both the range and the compass of a given piece may prevent it. If you can get a couple more boys together to make a separate group, it would be helpful for them to have company during their vocal transition time.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    Thank you for all the info. It's a big help. I really appreciate these tech. of internet, website stuff now.
    Mia