Turn Your Warm-Up Upside Down! No Yoga Experience Required.

September lies in wait after August. It’s time to think about the singing that lies ahead, whether you’re in front of the choir or in front of the director.  

And what’s a rehearsal without a warm-up?

The ascending five-note warm-up is the old grey mare in the singer/director/s stable!

Remember your first voice placement screening? Indeed, most of us start on a comfortable low note and go up by half-steps until the some alto puts her foot down or our own voice gives out.

Well, as many of us get ready for the fall choir season, why not try something new! Instead of going up and then down.


And if that isn’t heretical enough, instead of working your way up by half-steps, 


This is much easier on the voice. Singers inevitably associate rising pitches with stress and start tightening and squeezing every available muscle Just keep it light and easy, musical and pleasing. 
 After you’ve gone down for a while, go back to the starting point and go up. The pattern is still five DOWN and back up. Your basses and altos will love you, even if the sopranos and tenors have to hold off on their soaring. You and your singers will be more relaxed, especially if no one has been doing much singing over a summer break.
Remember, warm-ups should be easy and relaxed whether performed in the shower (where I sound magnificent!), in the car (where I focus on the relaxation aspect), or in a rehearsal. 
So, stand your warm-up on its head! I promise you’ll love it.

Celebrate May with a Dance

In some parts of the world, May seems like a long time coming. Here’s an amusing performance of Praetorious’ Philou. Enjoy it as a pleasant reminder of the secular that ran alongside the sacred, which we sometimes forget. And a celebration of multi-tracking, if that’s your pleasure.

Courses at Catholic University of America this summer

I was asked to remind readers of the courses being offered under the auspices of the Ward Centre at Catholic University of America.

So here’s the information and where to go to learn more:

Online registration for 2017 Ward Method courses and Gregorian Chant Practicum now available!
Online registration for the 2017 Ward Method courses and Gregorian Chant Practicum at the International Centre for Ward Method Studies located at The Catholic University of America is now available. 
Online registration can be found here: http://summer.cua.edu/admissions/index.cfm
For more information on the Ward Centre, please visit: http://music.cua.edu/ward-method.cfm   To request a tuition scholarship, please email skeris@cua.edu.  
Between the CMAA and CUA, it’s Ward abounding! I’m sure Justine would be delighted.

The Charms and Perils of Beauty

I’m not a great reader of sermons. (Actually, not a great listener either.)  However, Fr. Cipolla of St. Mary’s, Norwalk, Connecticut provides a lovely meditation on the risks and rewards of beauty in the search of truth and goodness.

It’s over at Rorate Caeli and is definitely worth a read by those who love fine liturgy and music.

Many thanks to Fr. Cipolla, a man who always knows what he’s talking about.

CMAA Courses on the Ward Method in June, 2017

Have you wondered about the Ward Method?
Thought it might change the way you teach music with children? For the better?
Did you do the basic course and you want to take it further?

The Church Music Association of America (CMAA) is offering you a chance to find out about Ward and take your practice deeper this summer at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, June 26-30, 2017.

There will be two courses offered.

Ward Method I – That All May Sing will be taught by Scott Turkington. Participants will learn the basic principles and the practice of this method developed by Justine Ward in the early 20th century and how it can be used with our 21st century children. Its fundamental principle is that all children can learn to sing, not just those with natural gifts.

Ward Method II – Intermediate moves beyond the first year. Wilko Brouwers will share his expertise and experience with the method to pass on more advanced techniques. It will expand on the training in Ward Method I.

Both Scott Turkington and Wilko Brouwers are experienced and gifted teachers, not only of children, but of teachers as well.

The CMAA is convinced that this method has great value for developing future generations of singers, both those in the choirs and those in the pews. You can be part of that project.

You can learn more details about the courses and register at musica.sacra.com by following this link:
CMAA Summer Courses.

Help the past and the present build our musical future!

Wish you could play the organ as well as the piano? The answer may be here!


There is now available FREE OF CHARGE 30 video lessons designed to help the intermediate-level pianist learn the basics of organ service playing.

There are organs all over the country (maybe the world) that are silent for a lack of hands (and feet).

Some churches that just had a piano suddenly got a designated organ bequest.
Sometimes the pastor likes organ music and is thoroughly sick of the clavinova.

Could those hands (and feet) belong to you or someone you know?

Check it out at this link; https://proorgano.com/video-instruction/
And remember – it’s free!

PS: Organs are very cool because they can be very loud. Well, that’s one reason I like them!

Musica Sacra Florida Chant Conference, May 19-20, 2017

Are you suffering from post-Paschal malaise? Would you like a little chant break that you’re not in charge of?


From Friday afternoon, May 19th through Saturday, May 20th, you can sing, learn, pray, and enjoy the company of like-minded friends new and old. We’ll be at St. Mark the Evangelist Church in Tampa.

The faculty will include Dr. Susan Treacy, Dr. Edward Schaefer, and Dr. Mary Jane Ballou (yes, that’s me!).

There will be an Extraordinary Form Mass on Friday evening, Lauds on Saturday morning, and an Ordinary Form Mass on Saturday afternoon with music provided by the conference participants.

Friday evening’s music will be sung by the Schola of the Epiphany of Our Lord Church in Tampa.

There will be a keynote address, two workshops, and three scholae – beginning/intermediate, advanced men, and advanced women.

You can learn all the details, see a preliminary schedule, marvel at the low cost, and nearby deal at the Holiday Inn Express by visiting http://musicasacra.com/category/events/ 

Of course, you’ll be able to register there as well!  And we look forward to seeing you.

Just a Little More Easter (Actually, A Lot More) From Georgia

The Easter Vigil (Resurrection Matins and Divine Liturgy) is a marathon that makes the Roman Catholic vigil resemble a walk in the park.

The link below comes from Georgia (the country, not the state), where John Graham, a historical musicologist, lives and leads cultural tours.  Click on different bits on the videos from this monastic celebration. It’s really rough, “guy music,” at its Caucasian best. Enjoy it!

Christ is Risen!


Your Role in Promoting Our Musical Future

Preliminary design by Els Decker

Most of us agree that the training of future singers is of paramount importance for the continued revival of fine sacred music. The Ward Method is a proven system for developing young voices to sing with understanding and a beautiful tone.

Right now, the Church Music Association of America has commissioned a new songbook for use with the Ward Method. 
Any donations received by June 1, 2017 will be matched by a generous donor up to a total of $5,000. Every dollar you give will be doubled. No donation is too small. 
Why not head over to the CMAA website devoted to this project and learn more about “Now I Walk in Beauty”? And we hope you’ll be able to help. If you’ve already contributed, many thanks!

Winter Sacred Music 2017 in Birmingham, Alabama

What better way to start off the New Year than with great music, terrific directors, and good company?  January 2-6, 2017 is the time, Birmingham is the place.

You can find all of these if you attend the Winter Sacred Music 2017 conference in Birmingham, Alabama.  Scott Turkington and Nick Botkins will be leading classes in chant and polyphony (two each). The culmination of you and your companions’ efforts will be an Ordinary Form Mass for the Memorial of St. John Neumann on January 5th and an Extraordinary Mass for the Epiphany on January 6th, both at the splendid Gothic Revival Cathedral of St. Paul. In addition, Dr. William Mahrt will offer breakout lectures that will deepen your understanding of the history and role of our great patrimony.

Learn more and register now without delay at www.musicasacra.com/winter-2017/

Your skills will grow; your happiness will increase.