- September 6, 2018 at 8:57 am #577390
There has been an interest within our village community to “boost” the Anglican evensong choir in the local church (who are five in number, over the age of 70). The current choir are faithful members who have been serving for decades and we respect and admire them. We have joined with them on a few occasions, but the wider group found it very difficult to follow and pick up the chanting.
I’d like to help. I understand the mechanics…..but how to teach in a clear, enjoyable way?
If you were teaching Anglican chant to a group of enthusiastic, but non-experienced musicians, how would you go about it? I would love the result to be flowing, not wooden and most importantly worshipful.
any advice gratefully received. Thank you.September 7, 2018 at 2:38 pm #577540
Like most things, chanting psalms gets easier with practice and familiarity so it is worth persevering. A few things make it a bit simpler:
1) Agree on the pointing. Trying to learn non-uniform pointing is doubly difficult. Have a look at the existing choir psalters. Are they covered with pencil (or even inked) corrections and emendations? If they are, consider removing all the changes or buying a new clean set. Possible candidates are the Wessex Psalter, the Anglican Psalter and the Anglican Chant Psalter. When you are learning the conventions, it is a lot easier if you fit the rules to the printed pointing rather than attempting to create pointing to match whatever people sing. Unadulterated print is quicker to comprehend. Plus, you don’t want to have to mark up books for new members with anything other than outright misprints. I would even recommend following all the oddities like extra syllables on ‘-ed’ and pauses, exactly as printed. It is less odd than when singers make up their own rules.
2) Start with canticles. Psalms have so many words, it takes years to become familiar with all of them. However, you can chant canticles the same way. If, once per service, you chant a canticle, like Magnificat, Nunc Dimittis or, in the morning, Venite or Benedictus, the words will remain constant and you can concentrate on getting the knack of pointing.
3) Learn chants to numbers. There are twenty chords in most chants, with a few passing notes. Before you add words, sing the notes counting up to ten and back down to one. If people can memorize the notes, so much the better when they turn to the words.
I hope that helps. My congratulations to your loyal choristers for keeping the tradition going. My best wishes for your efforts to rejuvenate it.
Nigel.September 10, 2018 at 12:19 pm #577913
Thank you, Nigel. This is helpful. I will try these ideas.
Best wishes, Frances
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