Anyone can learn to chant. It’s important to remember that for centuries very young boys learned to sing this by ear, simply by hearing it over and over. Now that we have so much technology to help us, anyone anywhere with the internet and the ability to read can learn chant.
Lately (for several months now!) this blog’s traffic has been almost exclusively to the Gregorian chant and Latin posts here, so I wanted to add some more for all of you folks giving this thrilling adventure a try. Don’t let ANYTHING discourage you or stop you. You can do this. If you have ever sung anything at any time, you can sing chant. I promise. Here’s a lineup of my favorite tutorials that will help you get going:
Intro to Gregorian Chant
- The great folks at Corpus Christi Watershed provide this stunning how-to series to guide learners from the very beginning: How to Read and Sing Gregorian Chant Simple lessons with audio clips and embedded videos! Even if you feel intimidated and out of your depth, this series is perfect. Step-by-step it leads you by the hand, and you will learn hearing and seeing. So good!
- The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter’s (FSSP) U.S. seminary’s website has a Teach Yourself Chant program . Audio and PDFs here provide excellent exercises for practicing intervals and neumes. It’s comprehensive and detailed.
- The Church Music Association of America has always been my number one resource for printouts, books, etc., and I haunt their fantastic forum. They have a (silent) PowerPoint introduction to Gregorian Chant. Scroll down to “Tutorial on Chant Pitch“ under the Teaching Aids: General Use headers. (FYI: site typo there reads “Tutorial on Chant Patch”). It briefly and quite beautifully covers how chant works, from melodies to modes.
Practicing Specific Pieces
- When you are working on learning specific chant hymns, you will find this page at Gregorian Chant Hymns a great help. Dozens of chant hymns, listed alphabetically by title, are linked with video, and audio files and sheet music for download. Superb!
- For learning standard parts of Holy Mass (the Mass Ordinaries), you should go to CCWatershed’s Kyriale. Here you can find video, audio and scores for vocalists and organists. This helped our fledgling schola immensely.
- To learn the changing parts of the Mass in Gregorian chant (the Mass Propers), CCWatershed also has resources here.
Best of luck! I wish I were there, wherever you are, singing with you–but from here I will pray for all of your efforts, and may we all of us sing together with the choirs of angels one day! Amen.