Learning the Propers
  • gregpgregp
    Posts: 632
    First, a great big thank you to the CMAA for its work. Because of the information, workshops, and download-able materials it has made available, we started a garage schola in the middle of an area with no demand for it. Now, at the end of June, our Diocese will be starting to offer the EF in this area, and we will be singing for it!!

    Which brings me to my question: other than slogging through them every week, are there any hints anyone can give me to helping a schola of eager people who have not sung a lot of chant learn the Propers quickly? (It looks like we'll be singing every other week at first, but that may change also).
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    Hi, Gregp

    I used to learn from Cassette tapes. I especially liked the Solesmes recordings (I used to own the entire Kyriale).

    You might look into purchasing the Schola Bellarmina CD's.

    Also, this might help (but you have to use Internet Explorer to hear them or see them):

    Practice Mp3 files for Gregorian Chant
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    The best thing you can do is teach solfeg and rhythm. Seems like a takes a lot of time out of singing propers at first, but the investment pays off. Always take the time to teach the fundamentals even if it means delaying singing propers!!! I'm a convert here on this question. Arlene did this with our schola after years of week-to-week work and it made all the difference.
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    And don't forget to mark the half steps!

    (Lucky there are only two of them!)

    I am blessed to direct a Schola that loves singing: Simple Agnus Dei recorded May 2008
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    Jeffrey, I hope you continue to post these. These are just great.
  • janetgorbitzjanetgorbitz
    Posts: 966
    Hi GregP,

    I second Jeffrey's suggestion about solfege and rhythm. I have been using excerpts from a book that is available for free download from CMAA. After vocal warmups, we do a bit of working on our solfege and neume reading from exercises out of the book each week. I am moving away and leaving our schola to their own devices soon, so I really needed to get them all to be able to read the chant notation themselves. It has helped immensely. Although it still really helps them to listen to the recordings, they are more able to learn the new music quickly with the little bit of theory skill. Here is the link: http://www.musicasacra.com/pdf/sunol.pdf

    None of them were terribly excited about this at the start of it (it is actually a bit of work involved, you know), but now are quite happy at the skills they've developed.
  • Steve CollinsSteve Collins
    Posts: 1,021
    Take heart - it gets easier exponentially with each Proper you learn! My detailed suggestions would be:
    1) Do use organ accompaniment, at least in the beginning. But not if it's simply chords held under the melody. Having modal movement in the inner harmonies strengthens the feel/concept of the modal melody.
    2) Start with the Introits. They look long, but 2/3 of it is the matching Psalm tone. the Antiphon itself is usually quite short. And you will begin to hear the relationship between the melismatic chant and the more familiar tones.
    3) Do the same with the Communion Antiphons since they tend to be even shorter, and very melodic. Again, use the Psalm tone Communio verses just like the Introit.
    4) Get used to the entire variety of Psalm tones as in the Rossini Proper Book. You can always fall back on these when you run up against a longer, more difficult Offertory or Gradual.
    5) Go ahead and start with the Rossini Gradual and Alleluia, but use the melismatic "Alleluia" as the book instructs. Most of these Alleluia melodies could be sung by the congregation once they're used to them.
    There are so many musical possibilities with the official texts of the Mass. And they are all so much better than "G & P" songs with piano!
  • gregpgregp
    Posts: 632
    Thanks, all. Very good suggestions. I'll be incorporating all of them. Hope to see everyone in Chicago!!!
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 993
    Oh, how thrilling! And I second everyone's suggestions. Don't try to get all the Graduale Propers all the time at first. What you don't want to do is crash and burn - it's bad for the congregation and schola both.

    I'm about to start pushing my schola into solfege because I have a mix of readers and non-readers. Since we don't have the EF around here, I'm not under performance pressure. I figure if we add small doses of solfege weekly, it will have a tonic effect on the singing.
  • mjcurtis
    Posts: 62
    Wait until the beginning of 2009 and check out www.chanttracks.com. I am recording the complete Mass Proper with many Ordinaries which will be downloadable. There will be 600-700 chants total with over 100 hours. I am in the recording process right now and still need to edit and design the website before it is available. Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions.
    Matthew Curtis