In which I rant again about music

It’s not about the parish merger. It’s about the homogenization of music within our parish.

I can understand that the music director wants to grow–and combine–everyone’s repertoire. We’re mixing people and musicians from two parishes, with different styles and repertoires. So it’s good to learn new music, and have everyone learn it, so we have music in common. And I can understand the “everyone learns a new song every month” and I can go with that. If that was all it was, we’d be golden.

If the intent was to frustrate our folk group so we’d give up and quit, they’ve failed. We are meeting weekly to practice the new (and old) music, and if anything, this has served to bring members of the group closer together.

But what gets me is this whole “everyone has to sing the same thing at every Mass” rule. Basically this means that the music director gives two choices for each singing opportunity (except acclamations, which must all be the same.) So it may very well be that none of the four chosen by our folk group is done by the choir, or the organ+cantor at the other Masses. We attend cantor meetings (one’s coming up this week) and are told that we must sing all the verses of the responsorial psalm–so we learn the whole thing and sing the whole thing, and then at the next meeting find out that we’re the only ones doing the whole thing. We’re told that we must do a certain Gloria–but everyone else does a different one. In which case, why require anything?

The music director tells us–not in so many words–that we should shut up and take it, because apparently we are lucky we still have a Mass at which to play. Father’s not a fan of guitar music, or so we hear. But I’m not sure who’s doing the micromanaging–the music director or the pastor. Sometimes he tells us one thing, exactly the opposite of what the music director tells us.

Yesterday I spent an hour preparing Alleluia verses through the end of Ordinary Time. We are required to do the Alleluia from the Mass of Redemption (from June through November…snooze…) and the verses are chanted. Without an organ to back the cantor up, we really have to be on our toes to pull these verses off. And the music director–the paid music director–doesn’t come through with this for us. I gave a copy to the folk group leader since we cantor together. But I’m not sure I’m passing it along to the music director. And that seems selfish–and I’m going to justify that by saying that she really doesn’t seem concerned with our issues of repertoire, different instruments, and different training (we’re all self-taught). I wonder if we threaten her in some way. I don’t want her job. The folk group leader doesn’t want her job. We just want to be allowed to choose the music that we feel is appropriate for the Sunday and for our instruments and voices. We want to be trusted to make good choices. We want to be left alone to lead the assembly in praising God through music.

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