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Cantor who sings flat--WWYD?


PrairieSong
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I also have been blessed to have this pastor invite our then 12 year old son, who has serious speech difficulties due to bi-lateral cleft lip and palate, to be the liturgist 3-4 times a year. It was a delight to him, and actually brought tears to the eyes of other parishioners who saw his courage and grace doing something that was very difficult for him.  Not a single person ever complained, and many, many were proud of him and quite vocal about allowing him to remain as a liturgist.

 

Again, she reminded me that corporate worship is not a performance, and the minute that takes precedence over our desire to serve and worship with our hearts and souls, we are failing as a church.

 

Yes, yes, yes!

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I don't know what I would do...

 

But, I think the OP is being treated rather harshly. If you don't have the sensitivity, you just can't relate to how something off pitch can affect you. It's not as easy as ignoring it. 

 

 

 

I don't think off-key singing is as easy to ignore or tune out as some are suggesting. If the sanctuary smelled like a sewer or a skunk, would you find it distracting even if you were trying to focus your attention elsewhere? If the air conditioning was broken and it was over 95 degrees inside, would you easily be able to ignore it? The attempts to shame the OP for being bothered by it are misguided. It's a sensory issue, not a spiritual one. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try to focus your attention on the worship or that it's impossible, but it isn't easy or indicative of some moral failing if you find it difficult.

 

This! 

 

 

For me listening to someone, especially someone who is supposed to be leading the congregational responses (& other parts of the Mass - we chant the Kyrie, Sanctus, & Agnus all the time; sometimes the Gloria & Credo), sing/chant off-key is physically painful. Partly because I have sensory issues and partly because I have near-perfect pitch.

 

And this!

 

I don't sing well. But my ear is really good and an off pitch voice can make my skin crawl. I feel badly about it but I can't ignore it.

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Yes, I've thought of that. But...it is very hard for me to not find her voice grating. It just is. As I said, I've heard people (only a few) who are off key, and I would never think that they should be quiet in church, but they aren't leading the songs. Maybe I need an attitude adjustment. I don't know. I honestly do not have ill will toward this woman. It's her singing voice that is bothersome. It's like playing a piano or guitar that is out of tune. I just can't do it.

 

I get it.  I'm a singer and music is important.  We're having trouble with a new member of our choir who sings very loudly and not with the group (he's on key - but this is *not* a solo!!).    It's also very distracting when someone can't do it well.  I understand those who support looking past the distraction and thinking about her heart... I really do... but we are supposed to be bringing our "first fruits" to the Lord.  Music (just as anything else we bring to church and give) should be our best.  I think we do need to have a certain level of expectations.  Otherwise we're going to have chaos. Think of the visitors who don't know she's got a heart of gold or has been part of the parish for years and year.  All they hear is bad singing and it can be very off-putting.

 

I would suggest that you speak first to the choir director...then to the priest/pastor.  Maybe even speak to them together.  don't write an anonymous letter.  I think that is worse than doing nothing and I don't think it will be well received.

 

I've made an agreement with my husband that once I reach the point where I've got the "old lady voice" that he has to tell me so I can step down from singing in the choir. 

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I don't know what I would do...

 

But, I think the OP is being treated rather harshly. If you don't have the sensitivity, you just can't relate to how something off pitch can affect you. It's not as easy as ignoring it. 

 

 

 

 

This! 

 

 

 

For me listening to someone, especially someone who is supposed to be leading the congregational responses (& other parts of the Mass - we chant the Kyrie, Sanctus, & Agnus all the time; sometimes the Gloria & Credo), sing/chant off-key is physically painful. Partly because I have sensory issues and partly because I have near-perfect pitch.

 

And this!

 

I don't sing well. But my ear is really good and an off pitch voice can make my skin crawl. I feel badly about it but I can't ignore it.

 

yup, me too.  It's like nails on a chalkboard... very hard to just ignore.

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I don't think off-key singing is as easy to ignore or tune out as some are suggesting. If the sanctuary smelled like a sewer or a skunk, would you find it distracting even if you were trying to focus your attention elsewhere? If the air conditioning was broken and it was over 95 degrees inside, would you easily be able to ignore it? The attempts to shame the OP for being bothered by it are misguided. It's a sensory issue, not a spiritual one. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try to focus your attention on the worship or that it's impossible, but it isn't easy or indicative of some moral failing if you find it difficult.

Those things would affect the whole service.  The singing is likely less than 10 minutes, spread out over the mass.

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Those things would affect the whole service. The singing is likely less than 10 minutes, spread out over the mass.

In my church (Eastern Orthodox), the entire service is sung/chanted. An hour and a half minimum. That's a long time to listen to something jarring. I'd speak to my priest about how distracted I am and ask for spiritual advice on how to overcome it myself. If you think it's that bad, and others do too, it's likely the priest knows as well and he is allowing it to continue for some reason you may not be aware of. But he can give you advice on how to overcome and focus yourself.

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Op, I don't have any advice for you :grouphug: but this situation totally reminds me of an episode of The Andy Griffith Show where Barney is invited to join the choir before the director realizes that he can.not. sing.

 

Barney and the Choir

Mothersweets, that was my mom's all time favorite Andy Griffith episode! I watched it on Netflix with my youngest a few months ago. They found a way to let Barney "sing" without hurting his feelings...and the look on his face when he opened his mouth and heard that strong male voice which he believed was himself...priceless.

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It's okay. I expect varied opinions here at the Hive. That's not a bad thing. I don't feel that anyone was picking on me or treating me harshly. I do appreciate the different perspectives.

 

It is a sensory thing. Hard to ignore, like the analogy of the bad smell. If you smelled a strong, awful odor every time someone sang or when the pastor spoke or whatever, it would be hard to focus on the words.

 

Someone upthread mentioned that Alice most likely knew she sang flat. I'm pretty sure she doesn't. I don't think she'd be singing so loudly if that were the case. I doubt she would be cantoring at all. Some people can't tell when something is off key. My husband can't.

 

I don't know what I would do...

 

But, I think the OP is being treated rather harshly. If you don't have the sensitivity, you just can't relate to how something off pitch can affect you. It's not as easy as ignoring it.

 

 

This!

 

For me listening to someone, especially someone who is supposed to be leading the congregational responses (& other parts of the Mass - we chant the Kyrie, Sanctus, & Agnus all the time; sometimes the Gloria & Credo), sing/chant off-key is physically painful. Partly because I have sensory issues and partly because I have near-perfect pitch.

 

And this!

 

I don't sing well. But my ear is really good and an off pitch voice can make my skin crawl. I feel badly about it but I can't ignore it.

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Yes, I've thought of that. But...it is very hard for me to not find her voice grating. It just is. As I said, I've heard people (only a few) who are off key, and I would never think that they should be quiet in church, but they aren't leading the songs. Maybe I need an attitude adjustment. I don't know. I honestly do not have ill will toward this woman. It's her singing voice that is bothersome. It's like playing a piano or guitar that is out of tune. I just can't do it.

 

I think you do need an attitude adjustment, like you offered. Her singing is for the LORD, not you. If she is gracious and willing, who are you to take away her joy in serving God just because you don't care for her singing? Your task is to serve God in your capacity, not decide who is "good enough", because honestly, none of us is ever "good enough."

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I think you do need an attitude adjustment, like you offered. Her singing is for the LORD, not you. If she is gracious and willing, who are you to take away her joy in serving God just because you don't care for her singing? Your task is to serve God in your capacity, not decide who is "good enough", because honestly, none of us is ever "good enough."

 

Her singing is also for the congregation to follow, as she is the song leader, no? No one has suggested she be prohibited from singing or worshiping.

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Yeah as annoying as it probably is to endure, I don't think there is much that can be done. This isn't a paid gig. She isn't hired help. There are no promises of quality with a volunteer choir.

 

Flat singing is sometimes due to poor breath control. Does the choir do any breathing exercises?

That's the exact thing the choir director said. No, we don't really do breathing exercises, and we only practice as a choir a few times per year. The rest of the time it is up to the cantor and accompanist to practice. They usually arrive early and practice together before Mass.

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Those things would affect the whole service. The singing is likely less than 10 minutes, spread out over the mass.

Actually, no, it's not - not in a Mass which is mostly sung/chanted. I'm a member of a choir which sings in a very traditional N.O. Mass. Most of the Mass is sung and/or chanted.

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Actually, no, it's not - not in a Mass which is mostly sung/chanted. I'm a member of a choir which sings in a very traditional N.O. Mass. Most of the Mass is sung and/or chanted.

Even in our N.O. Mass I'm sure the singing is more than ten minutes. The Gloria by itself is long, with a repeating refrain.

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As I see it, you have two choices for you personally:put up with it or don't put up with it. If you find it so jarring that you cannot put up with it, then avoid the masses where she is the cantor. But you certainly bear no responsibility for how others perceive her her singing.

 

As far as putting up with it, I used to feel terribly embarrassed and uncomfortable listening to struggling performers. I read something years ago that changed that. Now I focus on sending "energy" towards the performer. So instead of averting my eyes and slumping in my seat, I keep my head and body up and smile towards the performer.

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Mothersweets, that was my mom's all time favorite Andy Griffith episode! I watched it on Netflix with my youngest a few months ago. They found a way to let Barney "sing" without hurting his feelings...and the look on his face when he opened his mouth and heard that strong male voice which he believed was himself...priceless.

 

It's a great episode - poor Barney, and poor Andy for getting stuck with the problem of what to do with Barney. It's too bad something like that wouldn't work irl. :)

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Even in our N.O. Mass I'm sure the singing is more than ten minutes. The Gloria by itself is long, with a repeating refrain.

<ahem> Yes. Father decided that we would chant both the Gloria and Credo during Lent and he's kept it going. Although, the one we chant doesn't have a refrain. It's the Gloria from Mass VIII from the Gregorian Hymnal.

 

Shall I confess here that when I turn the page and see how much more we have to go, my heart drops a little and I heave a little internal sigh. Yes, I know, bad singer.

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I can totally relate to the OP on this one. As a musician and cantor for 20+ years, I totally get it. It's important for all to remember that people feel music in different ways, and place varying importance on it within the service. To me, music is HUGE. It makes me feel things in deeper, more meaningful ways than I would otherwise. And...it can positively or negatively affect the entire experience. It just can. The situation described would bother me for sure.

 

But, I agree it's the directors job to handle it. If I was the director, I would give Alice the chance to cantor but very sparingly. If he makes the schedule, I wonder why he isn't scheduling her less? Or, could he offer to work with her privately and give her a few voice lessons? Even if it didn't work, she might get the point and understand that she needs some improving.

 

Okay, so yes, it might hurt her feelings at first. But, that's life. We're not all cut out to do everything and it sounds like she can offer her gifts elsewhere. I don't think there's anything wrong with a little honesty if done in a caring, tactful way.

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I don't think off-key singing is as easy to ignore or tune out as some are suggesting. If the sanctuary smelled like a sewer or a skunk, would you find it distracting even if you were trying to focus your attention elsewhere? If the air conditioning was broken and it was over 95 degrees inside, would you easily be able to ignore it? The attempts to shame the OP for being bothered by it are misguided. It's a sensory issue, not a spiritual one. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try to focus your attention on the worship or that it's impossible, but it isn't easy or indicative of some moral failing if you find it difficult.

 

:iagree:

 

Sensory issues are not fun. I can't stand the sound of eating certain crunchy things. If my husband gets a bowl of cereal and sits beside me, I will suddenly abandon my breakfast, and go hop into the shower. It keeps me from stabbing him with an eggy fork.  :willy_nilly:

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I think you do need an attitude adjustment, like you offered. Her singing is for the LORD, not you. If she is gracious and willing, who are you to take away her joy in serving God just because you don't care for her singing? Your task is to serve God in your capacity, not decide who is "good enough", because honestly, none of us is ever "good enough."

 

I don't understand this at all.  What would you say if someone who could barely play piano was the pianist at this church?  What if this pianist was so incompetent that she could not play in rhythm or the notes correctly?  What if there was a competent pianist in the church who also volunteered to play?  It is not about the desire to serve.  You have to be capable to lead in these settings, and not everyone is.  Her singing is for the LORD when she is singing in the congregation, but it is also for the benefit of others when she volunteers to lead.  You cannot lead off pitch.  You cannot play the piano if you are not a competent accompanist.   It is not logical to demand the best musicians you can find but allow just anyone to lead vocally.  Both are of equal importance.  It is not about being perfect at all, just being capable.  Worship leaders that are very gifted at what they do inspire the church to give their best during worship as well.   

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I don't understand this at all. What would you say if someone who could barely play piano was the pianist at this church? What if this pianist was so incompetent that she could not play in rhythm or the notes correctly? What if there was a competent pianist in the church who also volunteered to play? It is not about the desire to serve. You have to be capable to lead in these settings, and not everyone is. Her singing is for the LORD when she is singing in the congregation, but it is also for the benefit of others when she volunteers to lead. You cannot lead off pitch. You cannot play the piano if you are not a competent accompanist. It is not logical to demand the best musicians you can find but allow just anyone to lead vocally. Both are of equal importance. It is not about being perfect at all, just being capable. Worship leaders that are very gifted at what they do inspire the church to give their best during worship as well.

Oop. There goes Moses!
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I can see both sides of this.

 

I can see people, especially musicians, for whom flat singing is like fingernails on a chalkboard. It's distracting and takes time out of worship to pull back from the distraction and focus on the worship. (I find this when I'm at a church when they play music while praying. Once I hit perimenopause, I could no longer screen out background noise, so the "background" music competes with the words of the prayer and I struggle to pray along in my spirit. This is true of a significant number of older women. ) 

 

So to the OP, I would suggest that she offer her acceptance of this cantor to the Lord as her worship at the time she's struggling, "giving preference to one another in love."  Worship then becomes offering the struggle, accepting the distraction, making the effort to orient one's soul at God, not the temporal. It will be easier to do this if you're not simultaneously wishing you could "fix" it That's the "acceptance" piece.

 

If the cantor had written a post saying she loved to sing, but couldn't sing on key, should she still volunteer? I would say no, it's not  about you and what you want. It's about what is best for the body as a whole. Serve in ways that you are gifted and make a joyful noise within the general congregation and your own home. My guess is that many people in the congregation are presented with a obstacle to overcome when she leads as a soloist.

 

The point being that worship is never about us, but about God.

 

If I were the cantor, I would want to know. If I later found out that I sang flat, I'd feel exactly the same way as I would if I walked around the store with toilet paper hanging out and no one told me. However, I think it's the job of the choir director to do the telling.

 

As a side note: It is possible to teach someone to sing on key. I had a foster dd who could not carry a tune AT ALL. It was truly painful to listen to her. We took her to a singing teacher and she was able to sing on key. So maybe the choir director could offer that.

 

 

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I can see both sides, too. She's a nice lady and wants to cantor. However, she can't sing very well. I did some researching and found a church document on sacred music that states that cantors should be proficient. That probably won't interest anyone who isn't Catholic.

 

Some posters thought that I was being too critical, and some said that it was gossip to talk about this woman's singing. After reflecting on that, I don't think it is. It's a fact that she sings off key. It is not a moral failing of hers. It isn't a character trait. No one (that I've heard) is judging what sort of person she is...they are stating a fact, that she sings off key. Only God can judge a person's heart. The fact that her singing bothers me and others is not a spiritual thing...it is sensory. If you are the sort of person who isn't bothered by this, you probably won't understand.

 

Someone else brought up the fact that if someone was bad at playing the piano, they wouldn't be playing in church. This really isn't different. The voice is an instrument. Ideally, if this woman wants to continue to cantor, she could get some vocal training and improve. Or maybe she will serve in other areas.

 

In the end, it will be up to the music director, not me, whatever decisions are made.

 

I can see both sides of this.

 

I can see people, especially musicians, for whom flat singing is like fingernails on a chalkboard. It's distracting and takes time out of worship to pull back from the distraction and focus on the worship. (I find this when I'm at a church when they play music while praying. Once I hit perimenopause, I could no longer screen out background noise, so the "background" music competes with the words of the prayer and I struggle to pray along in my spirit. This is true of a significant number of older women. )

 

So to the OP, I would suggest that she offer her acceptance of this cantor to the Lord as her worship at the time she's struggling, "giving preference to one another in love." Worship then becomes offering the struggle, accepting the distraction, making the effort to orient one's soul at God, not the temporal. It will be easier to do this if you're not simultaneously wishing you could "fix" it That's the "acceptance" piece.

 

If the cantor had written a post saying she loved to sing, but couldn't sing on key, should she still volunteer? I would say no, it's not about you and what you want. It's about what is best for the body as a whole. Serve in ways that you are gifted and make a joyful noise within the general congregation and your own home. My guess is that many people in the congregation are presented with a obstacle to overcome when she leads as a soloist.

 

The point being that worship is never about us, but about God.

 

If I were the cantor, I would want to know. If I later found out that I sang flat, I'd feel exactly the same way as I would if I walked around the store with toilet paper hanging out and no one told me. However, I think it's the job of the choir director to do the telling.

 

As a side note: It is possible to teach someone to sing on key. I had a foster dd who could not carry a tune AT ALL. It was truly painful to listen to her. We took her to a singing teacher and she was able to sing on key. So maybe the choir director could offer that.

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I believe that the choir director should handle it.  Gently, starting out with admiration for her dedication and desire to use her voice in worship. Then he should offer for her to take private voice lessons with him/her to help her voice blend with the group so they can be unified in their song, and also work directly with her on technique for her voice- sometimes it;s a very simple fix. (breathing, opening up the mouth wider) Diamond wanted a featured Dancer role in the school's musical, but you also have to be able to sing- no matter how great of a dancer you are. I'm guessing the OP's cantor sounded a lot like Diamond did. :crying: Less than a dozen voice lessons and it was like a completely different set of vocal chords had been installed. AMAZING!

 

And yes, she got Featured Dancer- 2 years in a row, with very few voices lessons after the original ones.

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You know, if you are following through with anything, you could mention the document you found (was it the "Musicæ sacræ disciplina"?) and perhaps suggest he might offer to work with this lady to help her become more proficient. This would, of course, depend entirely on your relationship with the director.

 

Unfortunately, many directors (even musically talented ones) are woefully ignorant of Church teachings on music and its use in various types of Masses. And also on the fact that there is some 1000+ years of beautiful, liturgically appropriate music; hence, the continuing use of Haugen and his ilk. (Gag)

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I haven't read every response, but I just want the OP to know that I have done a 180 on my views of this. 

 

First, a little background....I have musical training - both instrumentally and vocally.  I have taught vocally and instrumentally.   I also have been involved in performing for years in choirs, bands, special groups, and as a soloist. 

 

Secondly, I don't like a "performance" feel for worship.  I also like to think that everyone is and can worship.

 

However, in the Old Testament, the musicians were specifically trained and not everyone who wanted to play and sing in the temple were allowed.  I now "get" this.  For those who have been GIFTED AND TRAINED to lead worship, having someone who is neither gifted nor trained (and possibly both) is not only a distraction for other leadership, it is a misuse of gifts and talents.  True, the church is not a stage, and yet that is exactly the point.  It is also not an opportunity for those who are not called or gifted to lead others in worship to try their hand at singing.  Invariably, it always seem the person who is consistently flat or can't harmonize also doesn't have the passion or patience to try to get improvement (and sometimes even that is not possible).  It is usually a person who has always just wanted to try to be on stage and were denied other opportunities.  I think it is best to be HONEST from the get go from leadership.  Letting someone who should not be leading lead worship instead of dealing with the reality is really dishonest.  Would leadership let someone be the treasurer of their church who couldn't add or wasn't good with calculators or understand spreadsheets?

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This thread is interesting to me. I have the opposite problem...our church's musicians are talented and I find it distracting and discouraging.

 

They throw in unusual rhythms and the songs are often too high or of too great a range for the congregation. I watch them having fun singing/playing with each other and feel left out and like what I have to offer God in song is lacking.

 

Maybe what these seemingly opposite problems have in common is a lack of consideration for the congregation...that being up front is to serve the congregation not one's own personal worship.

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Happi, that sounds like they are not choosing songs that are for congregational singing.  Some hymns and praise songs really are meant to only be heard and presented FOR the congregation instead of an inclusive song for everyone to sing.  I think those pieces of music have a place, but should not be presented often.  More often, music that is inclusive of the singing of the entire congregation is a better choice and that means choosing songs wisely in areas of range and lyrics and rhythm patterns.  What I meant earlier is that I have seen untrained and untalented people push themselves or try to position themselves in areas of music leadership and it wasn't a calling for them, rather just a lifelong dream of being on some stage - any stage.  Many times it is not younger people who do this but more middle aged people who probably had been told in their younger years in school or somewhere else that their talents lay elsewhere and they simply did not want to believe it.  This can be a sensitive subject and in my experience if not handled with grace but yet firm boundaries, can become even more sensitive. 

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And here is another thought....I have also seen people who actually have decent voices or talent instrumentally but simply have no stage presence to lead.  Some of that takes years of practice and even then, you may have a musician who is best placed within a group and not in the LEAD position.  On the flip side, simply having stage presence AND a fantastic voice does Not indicate a lead musician either.  In churches, I really think a willingness to serve in other ministries that may not be visible should also be in the heart of a musical leader.  So I think this is a very special position that requires a good balance of a variety of talent, spiritual maturity, and training.  Ok...Now I think I'm done, ha.  Simply had another thought I wanted to share on this matter.

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He has brought the subject up to me more than once. I know it bothers him. He hasn't asked me to talk to this lady or anything like that.

 

As for policy, our particular parish has no music policy that I know of. What I read was here:

 

http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_instr_19670305_musicam-sacram_en.html

 

Yes, it's long!

 

Did the Music Director ask for your help in addressing this? Did he ask for tips or advice in how to go about it or whether he or she even should go about it? What is your actual church's policy toward musicians in the church?

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Wow, that does sound discouraging. The Vatican II document I linked above talks a lot about the people participating in singing the hymns. It's not a performance, the job of cantoring. We are supposed to help facilitate congregational singing, not hinder it.

 

This thread is interesting to me. I have the opposite problem...our church's musicians are talented and I find it distracting and discouraging.

 

They throw in unusual rhythms and the songs are often too high or of too great a range for the congregation. I watch them having fun singing/playing with each other and feel left out and like what I have to offer God in song is lacking.

 

Maybe what these seemingly opposite problems have in common is a lack of consideration for the congregation...that being up front is to serve the congregation not one's own personal worship.

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He has brought the subject up to me more than once. I know it bothers him. He hasn't asked me to talk to this lady or anything like that.

 

After thinking more about this, I think the choir director is completely dropping the ball on his responsibilities here. And he shouldn't be talking about the woman's singing behind her back, either! :glare:

 

He should be offering to help the woman work on her singing skills, not whining to you about how she's not a good enough singer.

 

And you shouldn't be made to feel like you're in the middle of this, or that there's any reason why you should have to be the "bad cop" and talk to the woman yourself. But by doing nothing, that's exactly what the choir director is encouraging. I'll bet he's hoping you'll talk to her so he won't have to do it himself.

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He has brought the subject up to me more than once. I know it bothers him. He hasn't asked me to talk to this lady or anything like that.

 

As for policy, our particular parish has no music policy that I know of. What I read was here:

 

http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_instr_19670305_musicam-sacram_en.html

 

Yes, it's long!

 

 

Hmmm...I think Catwoman is right. Your director is failing to do one of the hardest parts of his job - talking one-on-one w/the singer and coming up with a plan for improvement.

 

Is your director a professional conductor/director? In other words, does your director have professional conducting experience outside of your church? In any event, if this is enough of an issue to talk to you (several times ?), then it's important enough for him to grow, erm, a baton and speak privately with this lady.

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Well...this has been going on for a long time. It's not like he talks to me about it every week...it's been a few times spread far apart..and always said in the context of...I know this is a problem. It's a tough situation. All the musicians are volunteers , etc. I don't get the sense that he was asking me to handle it, at all, and I've known this man for decades.

 

We used to have a choir at one certain Mass every Sunday. She volunteered. The choir was never large..and she is LOUD. Made us all cringe. The director would mention hearing someone flat without calling her out personally. He'd talk about the importance of breath control. She never got the hint that it was about HER and I don't think she has a clue what breath control is.

 

The small choir dwindled to almost nothing and finally he just started scheduling cantors for all Masses. He usually schedules her with someone else, but I notice he hasn't been scheduling her much lately. Maybe that's his way of dealing with it? Not long ago I was cantoring with a young man, a new cantor. He and I were at church early practicing with the accompanist and *Alice* walked in, thinking she was on the schedule. We double checked. She wasn't. That's what started me thinking about all this. I overheard her talking to another lady who sometimes cantors. "He put us on the schedule together once, and never since then." She was puzzled. I knew why, but said nothing.

 

After thinking more about this, I think the choir director is completely dropping the ball on his responsibilities here. And he shouldn't be talking about the woman's singing behind her back, either! :glare:

 

He should be offering to help the woman work on her singing skills, not whining to you about how she's not a good enough singer.

 

And you shouldn't be made to feel like you're in the middle of this, or that there's any reason why you should have to be the "bad cop" and talk to the woman yourself. But by doing nothing, that's exactly what the choir director is encouraging. I'll bet he's hoping you'll talk to her so he won't have to do it himself.

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Hmmm...I think Catwoman is right. Your director is failing to do one of the hardest parts of his job - talking one-on-one w/the singer and coming up with a plan for improvement.

 

Is your director a professional conductor/director? In other words, does your director have professional conducting experience outside of your church? In any event, if this is enough of an issue to talk to you (several times ?), then it's important enough for him to grow, erm, a baton and speak privately with this lady.

Yes, he should have addressed this long ago, when Alice first joined the choir. Now it's like another poster said..It's like you've been walking around with toilet paper dragging behind you and no one ever said anything.

 

A few months ago a man wanted to cantor and approached the music director. But...after hearing him sing the director said no, I'm sorry. This guy could not carry a tune to save his life. He was even worse than Alice. And he is a wonderful man, very generous. He has a heart for the poor. But he can't sing.

 

To answer your question, the music director has a music education degree and taught for years before going into a completely different field. He doesn't really conduct us except when we have a small choir for special feasts.

 

Sigh. I wish we would have some kind of vocal training for cantors. I would love it!!! And maybe it would help Alice, too.

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The small choir dwindled to almost nothing and finally he just started scheduling cantors for all Masses. He usually schedules her with someone else, but I notice he hasn't been scheduling her much lately. Maybe that's his way of dealing with it? Not long ago I was cantoring with a young man, a new cantor. He and I were at church early practicing with the accompanist and *Alice* walked in, thinking she was on the schedule. We double checked. She wasn't. That's what started me thinking about all this. I overheard her talking to another lady who sometimes cantors. "He put us on the schedule together once, and never since then." She was puzzled. I knew why, but said nothing.

 

Then he is handling it just fine.  It is within the purview of the person who does the scheduling to schedule the people he wants.  If she asks you directly, just tell her to talk to him.  That's a talk that he needs to have with her if she gets around to asking specifically.  

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You know, if you are following through with anything, you could mention the document you found (was it the "Musicæ sacræ disciplina"?) and perhaps suggest he might offer to work with this lady to help her become more proficient. This would, of course, depend entirely on your relationship with the director.

 

Unfortunately, many directors (even musically talented ones) are woefully ignorant of Church teachings on music and its use in various types of Masses. And also on the fact that there is some 1000+ years of beautiful, liturgically appropriate music; hence, the continuing use of Haugen and his ilk. (Gag)

I couldn't let this go by without a response! Amen, sister!! Give me Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence over We Are Called any day. I read a blog post once comparing that song to Styx's "I'm sailing away..." They start out exactly the same, lol.
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Then he is handling it just fine. It is within the purview of the person who does the scheduling to schedule the people he wants. If she asks you directly, just tell her to talk to him. That's a talk that he needs to have with her if she gets around to asking specifically.

Right. That would be a good response.

 

I think I will talk to the music director about cantor training. I don't know if it will happen but it doesn't hurt to ask! I think it would be a great idea for all of us.

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I couldn't let this go by without a response! Amen, sister!! Give me Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence over We Are Called any day. I read a blog post once comparing that song to Styx's "I'm sailing away..." They start out exactly the same, lol.

<snort> I hadn't thought of that. That's really funny...and true, too. That being said I don't necessarily object on principal to using *good* secular tunes with liturgically appropriate text. After all, most of what we know of Medieval secular music is because some composer took a popular motet tune, expanded it, and added sacred text. Related to that many of the most beautiful Medieval and Renaissance sacred music is based on these tunes - the parody masses of the 13th - 15th centuries spring immediately to mind. The salient word here, though, is *good*. Not every tunes created equally.

 

And, IMNSHO, the "Mass of Creation" needs to go the way of the do-do bird. (And I don't mean Haydn's oratorio!)

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