Gregorian Festival in Watou, Belgium

Watou Festival photograph

If you are finding the month of May lacking in entertainment, why not consider this festival of Gregorian chant scholas and choirs.

International Gregorian Festival of Watou

You might find the site a bit tricky to navigate since much of it is Dutch (Flemish). However, even if travel isn’t in your plans, it’s nice to know what others are up to in the sacred music world.

Interestingly, this festival always has a South Korean presence. And if you visit the site of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, you will find a considerable number of Korean students. What is the relationship there? Is chant more popular than guitar music in Korean Catholic circles? And why are the singers predominantly women? Why does life present so many questions?

Get Ready for the 2018 Summer Colloquium!

Make your plans now to join dedicated singers, directors, and conductors at Loyola University in Chicago for this year’s Colloquium, June 25th to 30th.

  • There will be a distinguished faculty. 
  • There will be beautiful Masses in the splendid Madonna della Strada chapel! 
  • Couses in chant for beginners to advanced. 
  • A choice of polyphony choirs. 
  • Plenary speakers of note.
  • Breakout sessions on topics pertinent to the musician and lover of sacred music.
  • A chance to share strategies, successes, and ideas with colleagues at meals.
  • Reasonable rates for dormitory housing (with a hotel option for those who prefer it) 
  • Theory and practice meet here in six wonderful days.
  • An opportunity to step into a wholehearted immersion in the best music of the Latin Rite.

Better than my words, watch this video:

Why am I talking about this in February?

Early registration for the Colloquium ends on March 1st.

Why register now? You’ll save money, of course!
Pay in full now for early registration and you save $50.
If you’re a member, you’ll also get your $50 member discount.
Do the math.

And of course, if you’re not a member, you should be!

Visit the Colloquium pages for all the information on courses and choirs, meal plans and lodging, registration, and more.

We look forward to seeing you in the Windy City in June 2018!


Music Games for Geeks

Stop wasting your time with Solitaire or Death of the Galaxy (I just made that one up)!

Sharpen your ear and/or your smarts with Theta Music Trainer. I like to think I’m a pretty smart cookie. Well, I’m tuning up my rusty interval recognition – and feeling like the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz.

There are a zillion games and a wonderful way to take a break from whatever you’re really supposed to be doing and still be able to justify it.


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:
For more information on the Ward Centre, please visit:   To request a tuition scholarship, please email  
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.