Weblog Keeps Choir on Same Page
Weblogs, YouTube Feeds, and Musicasacra.org links help make an interactive blogspot that brings a parish music program into the information age.
"The blog has provided a forum where our musicians can ask questions, give feedback, or voice a concern. Communication is much more efficient, with rehearsal times, canceled events, etc. We can also prolong discussion about liturgical music issues that ensue during rehearsal, and everyone can be heard. Many people find it easier to ask a question by typing it, rather than in the midst of group discussion. We have become a very close-knit group, and we owe much of it to the open communication we have throughout the week, via email and the blog postings."
John Wright, Kappelmeister, Sts. Mary and Boniface, Piqua OH
The need it meets
Choir members are by nature committed influencers of a parish community. Improvement in their mystique and their music has a ripple effect on the whole parish. In the hands of an energetic choir director, this Best Practice can do just that.
Where it came from
John Wright, Director of Music in the Piqua, OH sister parishes of Sts. Boniface and Mary, has learned in his capacities as a music instructor and college professor, that people seem to respond much more actively to high-tech methods for transmitting information and staying connected.
In his own words:
" You can show a film on a VHS tape in a class and the students will retain a certain amount of information from it. Now, you can show the very same film from an iPod in a similar class, and the students retain much more! You can direct students to a book or periodical in the library, or even hand them a copy of something to read, with about 80% of the class completing the reading. - OR - You can email it to them - or better yet - post it on a website - and more of the class will complete the assignment. I'm not sure why this is so, but I'm using it to my advantage!"
How it works
- Set up a blog through Blogger.com (this is a web site for users with Google email [gmail] accounts that provides a free blogspot on the Web. It has a tutorial to take the user through setting it up.)
- Post the musical selections the choir is singing the following Sunday on the blog.
- Link the selections to pages of sheet music for the members to view and/or print for the sake for personal practice or if they have missed rehearsal.
- Link into other sites with audio files so some of the music can be read and heard on-line.
- Insert videos of the choir via a YouTube interface that makes it possible for choir members to see and listen to themselves so as to help improve the quality of the musical offering.
- Link in other YouTube videos with scrolling text that help the choir members practice.
Posting things on the blog helps choir members to keep choral pieces in their mind through the week, which pays huge dividends at rehearsal and at Mass on Sundays!
Many choir members feel more comfortable making suggestions or asking questions online. The blog has provided a much needed forum for exchange that we didn't even know we needed.
Having links to music that we learn cuts down on our Church office's use of paper and the copy machine and gets the music out to choristers immediately, wherever they are.
- Time and an adventurous spirit for learning a new skill: setting up a blog!
- Some web wisdom is helpful, readily available from teens and young adults if necessary.
- Links to .pdf files of public domain music - from the www.CPDL.org website. (This is an extension of a popular "wiki" project.)
- Some of the sheet music files on the Saint Boniface site (www.bonifacemarychoir.blogspot.com) link to the St. Cecilia Schola Cantorum website, full of great stuff from Jeffrey Tucker.
How to implement it
- Find a service which will host your blog, and provide you with the tools to create new entries.
- Give your blog a name.
- Develop your blog's theme ‚Äì give it a look and feel. Make it look unique. How this happens will vary depending on which service you choose.
- Once everything is setup, you should be ready to write your first entry.
- Write often, and announce when you have posted new entries. You can do this through manually sending emails, or allowing people to subscribe to your blog, using services like email announcements and syndicated feeds. Availability of these services will vary according to which blogging platform you choose.
- Be sure to moderate the comments that come in, and try to respond to most of them.
Fr. Martin Fox is pastor of
Sts.Boniface and Mary Churches.