PSALLAM! RSCM America News & Info
May 2012 
Psalm 39:4 Lord, let me know my end, and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is.
 
Greetings! 

Our school and choir seasons are drawing to a close for the 2011-2012 year, and the potential for relaxation, rest, and rejuvenation becomes a possibility!

In these times in which we live, I believe that time itself is now the most precious commodity of all, not gold. If your life is like mine, you never seem to have enough of it. The organization of one's time becomes more and more a skill that has to be mastered and mastered well. Without my voice recorder on my Android PDA, I guarantee that 90% of the things folks ask me to do would be forgotten and never done! Or those ideas that hit you in the middle of the night? ...lost for ever! Or a reminder to not forget to order an anthem by a certain date -- poof!  ...disappeared. How do you organize your time? Is it working? Is it time, as I am doing for this next school year, to reassess, say no to a thing or two, and create time in your regular weekly activities, as the Psalmist advises, to "be still, and know that I am God"?

During the coming summer months, in the midst of conferences, planning for next year, family vacations, etc., may I suggest working in some time each week to simply sit, or lie down, and just "be", enjoying silence--the complete opposite of what we musicians are involved in so much: the making of sound. We all know how easy it is to become so wrapped up in music that we do nothing else for months on end. So, spend some time with that non-musical activity or hobby (mine is flying with Microsoft Flight Simulator!), focus on those other interests of yours that you don't have time for during the school/choir year, and develop the concept of a truly multidimensional you. I pray your summer is a great one, one that you spend in such a way that you arrive at the end of August refreshed and raring to go with another year of glorious music-making!

Andrew's signature
Andrew Walker
President, RSCM America
 
In This E-mail
What Our Medal Recipients Are Saying
How RSCM Fits Into Our Church/Organization
Music Sunday is May 20!
Training Courses Still Accepting Registrants
Getting Started with VOICE for LIFE
What Our Medal Recipients Are Saying
So far in 2012 we have awarded 14 VOICE for LIFE medals -- 11 Bronze, two Silver, and one Gold! Here is what this year's medal recipients are saying:

"Receiving the Bronze award is one of the climaxes of my choral career. I am extremely happy that I am part of VOICE for LIFE and the RSCM and I hope to continue growing musically through the program." -Sylvie Tuder, fifth grade

"With plenty of preparation beforehand, the Gold exam itself was nothing to be terrified about. I greatly enjoyed the discourse in the questioning section and things like the opportunity to plan a whole service and actually discuss it. Even from my preparation over the past few months, I learned a great deal about the workings of church music, even after having been involved in the RSCM for more than three years." -James Scott

"Receiving the Bronze award was an affirming process and one that I want my choristers to experience. It is an invaluable part of the RSCM and I highly recommend that adults and children participate in the process." -Carol Anne Taylor, Director of Children's Choirs, Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Dallas, Tex.

"I felt prepared going in to the Silver exam and it was a good experience. Educational and fun." -Madison Fogarty

"Before the Bronze test, I was nervous as the day approached. As I walked into the testing room, my tensions were building but as I sang and answered the questions I really relaxed. When I left, I was proud that I took the Bronze test!" -Eli Dunlap

"After taking the Bronze test I feel enlightened about the music I sing and the new music I will learn." -Diane Clements

Look for more quotes from our medal recipients in our Fall 2012 Newsletter! We expect that many more choristers will earn their medals at our 2012 Training Courses. If you or your choristers are considering a VOICE for LIFE examination, please visit our website for syllabuses and forms or contact Awards Administrator Linda Buzard.
 
How the RSCM Fits Into Our Church/Organization
by Christopher Harrell
St. Philip's Episcopal Church & School, Coral Gables, Fla.


This is the third article in a series that will feature each of the Board's nine Directors.

When I first came to St. Philip's, the Parish Choir was the principal ensemble that sang on a regular basis for our liturgies throughout the year. St. Philip's Church and School share the same campus, yet our interaction in worship was only once or twice a year. One of our main objectives has been to give more opportunities for the church and school to come together for worship on a regular basis.

Last year, we took a bold step at the parish day school by including a chorister training program as the core of third, fourth, and fifth grade music classes. The VOICE for LIFE curriculum has been immensely helpful in boosting the musical abilities and participation of both our children and adults. What started as program of less than ten devoted singers is now a program of over 80 participants with five ensembles. 

Chorister Class uses VOICE for LIFE Each class has 22 students, so each class is its own choral ensemble with its own set of anthems and music curriculum. This has been a monumental task, organizing folders for each of our 66 choristers, keeping track of their progress though first the White level and now the Light Blue level of VOICE for LIFE. The program has had the enthusiastic support of our Priest-in-Charge, The Rev. Mary E. Conroy, and our Head of School, Dr. Gregory Blackburn, both of whom had worked with RSCM-affiliated choirs at their previous churches and schools. St. Philip's School music teacher Mrs. Sara Beth Todd has been very supportive of the chorister program, as she and I co-teach the chorister classes. This support from my colleagues has been central in making this program successful.

Choristers sing with Parish ChoirWe designed a schedule where each class sings on a rotating basis throughout the year, so that each group sings by itself at the Wednesday School Eucharist and then combines with our Parish Choir to sing on select Sunday mornings. Singing together has been mutually beneficial to our adults and children, as they learn by singing together. As choristers have earned their ribbons, they are role models for the other choristers, and they strive toward the common goal of always doing their very best. After our first group completed the White level, we invited parents to attend their surplice ceremony at a Wednesday School Eucharist. Parents have been very supportive, and the VOICE for LIFE program gives obtainable, objective goals in a format that allows parents to see how their children are progressing step-by-step.

I cannot express how helpful the VOICE for LIFE program has been in building up a culture of musical literacy in our young musicians. In each class, we work on sight-reading rhythms and melodies, and I include some solf�ge and theory activities that relate to the anthems and hymns they are learning. I choose simple unison anthems at the beginning, mainly with stepwise melodies, then introduce interval reading, all in a treble range that uses their head voices rather than so much "children's music" that is written in a low register and remains in chest voice range. We use the hymnal as a source of sight-reading exercises and as a way of discussing how what we sing relates to the liturgical year. As we musicians are well aware, hymn texts are chestnuts of theological teaching!

Monthly Chorister Challenge: We all sing for ice cream!
In each class, I keep track of "points" that students earn by sight-reading or singing, being on time for Sunday morning rehearsals, putting up their cassocks and surplices, and by singing parts of our anthems as either solos, duets, or trios in class. At the end of the month, the two choristers from each grade that have the most points get a $5 certificate for ice cream from a local favorite ice cream parlor. Total cost per month: $30--which is money well spent! Since we introduced this monthly Chorister Challenge, when I ask who wants to earn two points for sight-singing a phrase of an anthem or hymn, those little hands fly up, eager to earn points toward their award.

Fourth grade surplice ceremony

Helpful Publications
RSCM Season by SeasonTwo RSCM publications that I have used extensively this year are SEASON by SEASON and The Carol Book. Both are worth their weight in gold, as both are photocopiable, which makes for significant savings for the music budget. SEASON by SEASON covers the liturgical year from Lent through Pentecost, along with other anthems for general use. Some anthems are for unison/trebles only, and others are SATB. The CD-ROM that accompanies SEASON by SEASON has sample audio tracks of some of the anthems, along with PDF files that have two or three versions of each anthem for flexibility (unison, SATB, or SAB in some cases.) One of my favorite anthems from SEASON by SEASON is a spritely setting of "Rejoice, the Lord is King" by Malcolm Archer, which is a great piece to teach changing meters. "Bless, O Lord, us thy servants," by the volume's co-editor, John Barnard, is a nice setting of the Chorister's Prayer that has become a favorite of our choristers and adult singers.

RSCM Carol BookThe Carol Book covers Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany. Its accompanying CD-ROM has music files as well. Included here are the treasured favorite descants of Christmas carols by David Willcocks, along with many favorite traditional carols and new carols, such as the hauntingly beautiful "Small wonder the star" by Paul Edwards.


Christopher Harrell
Director of Music & Liturgy, St. Philip's Episcopal Church
Director of Chorister Program, St. Philip's Episcopal School

1121 Andalusia Avenue
Coral Gables, FL 33134
charrell@saintphilips.net
(305) 742-5369

Psallam Spiritu et Mente!
RSCM America promotes excellence in church music practice and choral singing, is part of the worldwide network of The Royal School of Church Music, and works in collaboration with Westminster Choir College of Rider University.
Music Sunday logo
May 20, 2012 is Music Sunday for RSCM America! Celebrate the music program in your church and promote the mission of the RSCM by giving a brief presentation, singing a special anthem, or including a description in your service leaflet. And remember to designate
May 19, 2013 as next year's Music Sunday!

2012 Training Courses
2011 Washington Course
Only a few spots remain for the Washington D.C. Course for Experienced Trebles,
July 23-29! Music director Robert McCormick will lead choristers in an exciting and fun week filled with fantastic repertoire in our nation's capital. Sign up today!

The Carolina Course for Girls and Adults is still accepting applications for July 9-15 in Raleigh, N.C., led by music director David Briggs and organist Robert Ridgell. Visit the course website or contact registrar Marilyn Neely!

The Rhode Island Course at Newport with music director Ben Hutto now has space for 35 adults! Register today to participate in this marvelous course, July 30-August 5
 
Website Updates
VOICE for LIFE logo
H
ave you seen our website's new Getting Started page? This page incorporates the results from our 2011 VOICE for LIFE survey and features many, many valuable suggestions from our members, your colleagues. Whether you're new to VfL or have been using it for years, you will find a great deal of helpful information here!

 
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