|A New Choir Year!
I am sure by now you have all left the starting gate of the 2016-2017 choir season. I pray that those first rehearsals and the period of getting back into the routine have all gone well, possibly with some new members to welcome to the fold! Any of you that are at a church named after St. Michael, as I am, know that you hit the ground running at full speed in late August or September, with the patronal feast day (the Sunday closest to September 29) but a few weeks away! This year at St. Michael's Episcopal Church in Orlando we sang Parry's
I Was Glad
(see our everything-is-in-it bulletin in my article below.)
In this new year, may we all truly say: Psallam spiritu et mente!--I will sing with the spirit and with the understanding also.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Editor of PSALLAM!
Past-president of RSCM America
|From President Bert Landman
s some of you know, due to financial constraints at my former parish, it became necessary for me to seek a new position this past spring. I am happy to report that I was successful and have joined the staff of a remarkable parish. While this parish has had a thriving and sophisticated music program for a number of years, and has been a member of RSCM America, I found that VOICE for LIFE, our RSCM chorister training scheme, had not been employed. I
began implementing its use with the children when we began rehearsals, accompanied by an explanation of the program to the
parents and the choristers. A number of the parents sat in on rehearsals, and I could see their faces light up as the concepts the choristers were encountering in their workbooks were being reinforced and internalized as we worked. This past Sunday, the choristers sat with and sang with the adults during the service. In addition to a setting of the Chorister's Prayer, they offered "In paradisum" from the Fauré Requiem with the adults (after only two weeks of rehearsals). The congregation, parents, adult singers, and the choristers themselves were thrilled with the experience. A fire has been lighted in their bellies. They were so excited that two of them found me after the service and asked for their Light Blue workbooks, as they had already completed the White level since our rehearsal on Thursday.
I hope that all of you are having similar experiences with your children and adults (remember that VOICE
LIFE is not just for children!) If you have questions about implementing VOICE
LIFE in your parish or school,
or one of our other
; we are always delighted to hear from you and offer our ideas and experiences. If you have had great experiences, share them with us by e-mailing us at
. I hope that you will also plan to attend one of our
next year and consider hosting an RSCM choir festival in your area.
Our best wishes go out to you all as you begin your program year, that you may inspire and be inspired by those with whom you work.
RSCM America President
|The "Everything Is In It" Bulletin
| Has your church adopted an "everything is in it" type of bulletin, like this example from St. Michael's, Orlando or this example from Grace Cathedral, San Francisco? It certainly makes following the liturgy much easier for all, especially for newcomers unfamiliar with the pew aerobics of juggling one or more books, a bulletin, and various bulletin inserts. However, for those of us that are music directors, this does require a rather large paradigm shift. Here is what has happened at St. Michael's since we changed to this type of bulletin--
The paradigm shift? At St. Michael's we can now pull from literally hundreds of additional hymns and songs to reflect the scriptures of the day. We are not just limited to The 1982 Hymnal and and maybe one or two other music resources in the pew racks. This raises some questions: How much new material can one present to the congregation in a year? When is the best time, and what is the best way, to teach/introduce new congregational material? There's also the rather large issue of who exactly on the staff is going to devote the time each week to producing one of these types of bulletins, pulling in all the various items from The Rite Stuff and PDFs from the two programs mentioned above. A few of our members (including me) are also using a PDF version of the bulletin that we send out, reading it on our large-screen tablets!
- We purchased The Rite Stuff software from Church Publishing, Inc. This software has proved to be an amazing investment, due to the fact that it allows one to pull songs for the liturgy from all of the music books published by Church Publishing, without have to put any new books in the pew racks.
- As we do a broad spectrum of material at St. Michael's, we also purchased two yearly licenses:
- CCLI, and the SongSelect additional subscription, which enables easy downloading of items (as opposed to photocopying from a book one might have) and then adding the CCLI license number. However, if you want the music as well as text, there are some issues, re it includes all the chords as well as music and text, often resulting in a lengthy file to fit in the bulletin; it does, however, often have a version you can download that gives some harmony parts that could be sung.
- OneLicense.net, which was absolutely vital, as we use several of the Iona items from GIA Publications, Inc. It has also given us access to over 50 Mass settings, some of which have, to my ear, some great settings of parts of the Ordinary of the Mass.
The times they are a-changing in the music publishing world. Have we arrived at the end of the published denominational hymnal? These next five to 20 years will be most interesting.
|Music Learning Community:
A Comprehensive Music Theory Website
|As a result of a Board initiative in January of this year, I did some research on music theory websites. In my view, one came out head and shoulders above the rest: MusicLearningCommunity.com. An annual subscription of $240 gives you access to many music theory learning games for up to 50 students. The games are great fun and also cute, with amusing graphics and sound--somewhat cheesy in a "this looks like it was made for an early 1990s PC" kind of way--and are incredibly comprehensive in the areas of music theory that they cover. The repetition aspect of these games also really drives home the musical concepts and lessons. Click on the image below to view an introductory video on YouTube.
I spent many hours matching the various games to the targets in the Light Blue, Dark Blue, and Red levels of the RSCM's VOICE for LIFE curriculum, with the goal of enabling choir members to work toward their medals and ribbons at home or anywhere there is an internet connection. I also scheduled two, five-day VOICE for LIFE "camps" this past summer. Here's how they worked:
The results? Every participant made great progress toward finishing a VOICE for LIFE level, and several actually did finish a level and start the next one. So what now? I have set aside an hour from 5-6 p.m. every Thursday for which any choir member can advise me they will be coming in to do "VOICE for LIFE Computer Lab" time. Next summer we'll definitely have the camps again.
- Sessions were held Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon
- We set up three computers in our choir room, and many of the kids and adults that attended brought their own devices
- With only me there, and wanting to spend one-on-one time with each attendee, it worked well to have four to eight participants signed up for each week. I was able to spend at least 20 to 30 minutes with each participant each morning, either working apart from the website or assisting them with a concept covered on the website.
- When they were not working with me, they quite happily played the games associated with their particular level, without having the distractions that can occur at home.
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.
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