Graduate school recommendations
  • mlabelle
    Posts: 46
    I am a third year undergrad at the University of Florida interested in a job as parish music director. This year I will look at prospective schools for my graduate studies. I originally started looking at Notre Dame, Catholic U, and Auburn, but have been told recently that those are not good schools for the kind of formation I desire.

    Can anyone suggest some schools where I can get some solid liturgical and musical training? Preferably in the United States, but if that is not an option, I am not averse to studying abroad for a while.

  • A few comments [as I put on both my parish music director hat and my collegiate academic advisor hat]:

    The most important thing you can do to prepare for a career as a parish musician is to apprentice with a full-time musician who has the sort of program you would eventually like to lead. Usually this means working as an assistant musician in a large parish, but other arrangements are possible. What you definitely don't want to do is to be a full-time graduate student and have a part-time church job from which you learn very little. This would include being a full-charge musician in a parish with very low musical expectations or serving as an organist/accompanist with little chance to train choirs, help plan music, etc. Many people fall into this trap! A great situation, if you can find it and be sure that it will actually come together, is for one of your principal instructors to also be the musician with whom you apprentice outside of the classroom and, hopefully, outside of the college/university. I can enlarge on any of these comments, but that's the 'elevator conversation' version.
  • PaixGioiaAmorPaixGioiaAmor
    Posts: 1,473
    I'm not sure why Notre Dame or Catholic U are bad picks for you. I've heard good things about both and have not known them to be off in left field from what I've heard - especially Catholic U.
  • When evaluating graduate schools, principal considerations should be:

    1. the faculty members with whom you will work;
    2. costs and funding;
    3. where recent graduates have gone professionally/academically; and
    4. what curricular and co-curricular activities help you to become a full member of your profession.

    For someone hoping to work for the Church, the quality of the liturgical and spiritual life of the institution is also extremely important, as is the fidelity of the professorate to Catholic teaching--including those outside the theology. This is particularly tricky at the graduate level. For instance, one of the institutions named in excellent The Newman [Society] Guide to Choosing a Catholic College has on its Web site an article by a graduate-school faculty member advocating the 'ordination' of women to the deaconate.
  • I wouldn't discount CUA. The program there is good, although I don't know much about the organ or choral programs. The music history is solid and the program at the basilica is in good hands these days. There are also opportunities in the DC area to work with excellent people. I don't know much about ND yet, but my asst schola director just left to start that program. Unfortunately they assigned her to help lead the ND Folk Choir as part of her assistantship! She has a good sense of humor, so I think she appreciates the irony.
  • Lawrence
    Posts: 123
    It may be difficult to find a school with both solid musical and liturgical programs. My suggestion might be to find the best music school possible, and then find the best parish possible in which to learn more about liturgy. In addition, to be frank, there isn't much about the liturgy you can't learn by reading the right books. The political and people problems--well, your teacher, whoever it ends up being, can offer guidance in this department.

    Just throwing this out there: the best organ programs for my money are (not necessarily in any particular order): Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, Juilliard in New York City, and the Yale School of Music in New Haven.

    That's as much as I'm willing to say publicly:-) but feel free to email me with any other questions at hocket[at]gmail[dot]com
  • Cantor
    Posts: 84
    Notre Dame is where Steve Warner is, and I believe Michael Joncas is there, too.

    Warner seems very much a 1970s/80s thinker on liturgical music; google for his keynote address at the 2007 NPM national convention for an example of what I mean. Give him a wide berth and let his way of thinking go the way of the clown Mass, says I.

    Joncas seems more open, but I don’t know his musical background. He may have more to do with liturgical and theological stuff, for which I imagine he’d be a good teacher.

    The organists I have seen come out of ND have not impressed me.