“Blessed are the flexible, for they shall never be bent out of shape.”
The Music Ministry is back with a variety of COVID-friendly options! While this may look quite different from our normal program given our inability to sing safely together in-person, I firmly believe that these offerings will elevate our skills as church musicians, and we will be better singers (and ringers) when we are able to re-gather as a result. We welcome new participants from the parish – or friends from outside the parish – to join us. Don’t know how to sing? We’ll help with that! Don’t know how to read music? We’ll teach you! Don’t want to wake up early on Sunday? No need (for now…)!
IN-PERSON WITH ADJUSTMENTS: NORWOOD RINGERS
Tuesdays 6:15-6:45 pm
SIGN UP HERE
Our handbell choir will be the only method for in-person music-making at St. John’s for the foreseeable future. The bells were completely refurbished this summer, and they are ready to ring! We welcome any singers (and totally new people!) who would like to participate during this extended hiatus from vocal rehearsals. We will take sensible precautions to keep everyone as safe as possible; see the signup form above for more details.
NEW: ZOOM MUSIC THEORY & AURAL SKILLS COURSES
Tuesdays & Thursdays, 7:30-8:15 pm
SIGN UP HERE
Over the Zoom platform, Adam Detzner (Director of Music at Christ Church, Columbia, MD) and I will join forces to offer two nightly seminars per week. The first will happen on Tuesday nights from 7:30-8:15 pm, and will cover the rudiments of Music Theory. This curriculum, useful for singers and ringers, will be largely self-guided, using two published workbooks from the Royal School of Church Music as a start (to get us all “on the same page” with note reading, keys and time signatures, etc.), followed by packets that we will produce for you. The Zoom time on Tuesday nights will be freely structured, with questions on the packets alongside an opportunity for social interaction. There will also be a breakout room with Dr. Madeline Miskie-Jaeger, whom Adam employs as a vocal coach for his young choristers. Madeline is well-versed in vocal training at all ages and levels, and she will assist us with a variety of useful warmups and exercises, as well as work on passages from the hymns and anthems we will record virtually.
The second Zoom seminar will take place on Thursdays from 7:30-8:15pm, focusing on Aural Skills. Together, we will learn to sing melodies and harmonies without the aid of a keyboard, using scale degrees (numbers) and fixed-do solfège (syllables). Scale degrees allow us to decipher unfamiliar musical lines as part of a larger key structure. Solfège gives us beautiful singing vowels to “name notes,” concentrating on the music itself before adding the complication of a text. We’re envisioning a vocal warmup, followed by demonstrations, call-and-response to individual volunteers at home, etc. (So yes, we’re each going to get very comfortable in our own skin/voice!)
The Tuesday sessions will be freely structured, where Adam and I can answer your theory questions, and you can work with Madeline if you like. So don’t feel like you need to come every week – think of coming on Tuesdays if you feel you need to that week, or if you want some social time. Thursdays will be more formally structured, and we will be building long-term skills as a group, so please try to come as often as you can, as though it is a choir rehearsal from the “before-times.”
COLLABORATING: CHORISTERS (CHILDREN’S CHOIR) ONLINE
Thursdays, 5:00-6:00 pm
Any child aged eight and up is eligible to participate in joint Chorister rehearsals via Zoom on Thursday evenings from 5:00-6:00 pm. We begin with a brief warm-up and group lesson, after which our Vocal Coach (“Dr. Miskie,” as the kids call her) works with children individually or in household groups. Meanwhile, the other Choristers work on music theory workbooks and packets. We close every rehearsal with the Choristers’ Prayer and some social time with one another. Long term, our goal is to have our Choristers record hymns and simple anthems remotely for us to splice together.
Please e-mail Adam at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to enroll your child, or if you have questions. Ten young Choristers from Adam’s church are participating, so it promises to be a lively and engaging experience! Please know that under safe church guidelines, we expect a parent, guardian, or other responsible adult to be in the room with their young singers during rehearsals. We hope that as our virtual program year develops, we will be able to combine our youth and adults to make truly fabulous intergenerational choir offerings.
CONTINUING AND EXPANDING: RECORDING WEEKLY HYMNS, PLUS “SPECIAL PROJECTS”
The Alleluia and St. John’s Choirs’ work in assembling weekly hymns and service music will continue alongside our new online curriculum. Look forward to occasional “mass virtual choir” video-anthems in Sunday worship. I am also developing an online Advent Lessons and Carols service, to be pre-produced and released on YouTube on the First Sunday of Advent.
Please feel free to contact me if you would like to learn more about one of these wonderful opportunities, or how you might contribute in other ways to the musical life of our parish. I’m looking forward to the new avenues we will explore this season and hope to hear from you!
Karl Robson, Director of Music
301.654.7767, ext. 305