Wednesday, July 4, 2007

How come this isn't done in every parish? Huh?

Being born "tone deaf" (at least, that's what my sister says of all of our family), I've been pretty much a "whisperer" when it comes to singing in Church since I left high school. And that's a long time.

But for some strange reason, perhaps the knowledge that I can sing "Jingle Bells", "Happy Birthday" and a few other tunes, I foolishly said "yes" last month when a friend invited me to join his schola, a group devoted to singing Gregorian Chant. Actually, I had been attending Mass on Saturday mornings at St Anthony's in NE Mpls for a year or so and our tiny congregation has been doing that quite well. Actually, it is so tiny that I dare not participate. So I have developed a bit of confidence in my vocal abilities. Not ready to go on American Idol yet, though.

But after four classes, I haven't been thrown out yet.

I have often felt that Church musicians are missing the boat by not offering a bit of instruction to parishioners to entice them to join parish musical groups. Virtually all of us can sing "Jingle Bells" and "Happy Birthday." St Olaf in downtown Minneapolis seems to be doing that. Pester your own parish officials to get them to do so also.

Interestingly, God has arranged St Olaf's "novice" training schedule at a time when I won't have to skip my Saturday Mass at St Anthony's. I think I'll sneak in there and see what they have to offer. Join me.

Didn't somebody important say that "Singing is praying twice?"

There are about one hundred active music ministers at St. Olaf Church. Through spiritual and liturgical
formation, they come to know the God-given musical gifts they have within, and often benefit from small
group and one-on-one instruction outside of scheduled rehearsals. Presently, more singers in our music ministry
are taking private voice lessons than ever before.

Cantors at St. Olaf offer private and group lessons to music ministers of all levels of ability. During the year
there are often people in our assembly who request the desire to be an active singer in a group at St. Olaf but
have had little or no vocal experience. Their confidence is low, but desire is great. Jumping into a group and its
rehearsal may be too challenging without any past singing experience. Rehearsal certainly offers orientation
and gradual improved use of the voice, but there is need for more coaching outside of rehearsal to feel more
comfortable and confident.

So…(drumroll please)…

There will now be the opportunity for the earliest beginners to come to group sessions with other parishioners
to learn the basics of vocal production. Do you wonder if you can ‘match pitch?’ Often people who say they
‘can’t sing’ really can match pitch and sing a melody but need courage to step forward to explore the voice.
Want to know the basics of vocal phonation, range, and breathing? Want to take steps toward exploring
the vocal cords God gave you, perhaps leading yourself to music ministry? Even if it doesn’t lead to active
music ministry for you, this will be a fun opportunity for anyone of any musical ability to come learn about
the voice in a very unintimidating setting, and in the sacred space of God’s community.

Come to any or all of these sessions, 10:00 - 11:30 am in the music room of the church complex, lower level. No RSVP necessary. Just show up. Saturday, August 4, 11, 18. C’mon. It’ll be fun.
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