About this blogger:
A theorist, organist, and conductor, Jeff Ostrowski holds his B.M. in Music Theory from the University of Kansas (2004), and did graduate work in Musicology. He serves as choirmaster for the new FSSP parish in Los Angeles, where he resides with his wife and children.
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“Since the ability of Francisco Guerrero is now abundantly known to all […] he shall henceforth act as master of the boys so long as: ( 1) he must teach them to read, write, and to sing the responsories, versicles, antiphons, lessons, and kalends, and other parts of divine service; (2) he shall teach them plainchant, harmony, and counterpoint, his instruction in counterpoint to include both the art of adding a melody to a plainsong and to an already existing piece of polyphonic music; (3) he shall always clothe them decently and properly, see that they wear good shoes, and ensure that their beds are kept perfectly clean; (4) he shall feed them the same food that he himself eats and never take money from them for anything having to do with their services in church or their musical instruction…” [cont’d]
— Málaga Cathedral Document (11 September 1551)

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Letter To A Volunteer Choir…
published 27 July 2016 by Jeff Ostrowski

283 Nuns Singing HEN I CAME to Los Angeles, I made the decision to find people FROM WITHIN OUR PARISH who could form our Latin Mass choir. In the past, I’d experienced scenarios in which I’d recruit singers from other places—including paid singers who were not Catholic—but I found this to be somewhat troubling. In particular, when singers were being paid, I noticed that some were coming to Mass “for the wrong reasons.” 1

Our method has created a few difficult situations, but we’ve always pulled through. Moreover, this situation has led to something unexpected. Because of our chosen approach, the singers realize how important they are. Indeed, the singers have come to know beyond a shadow of a doubt how essential they are—and this is marvelous. There is no question in their minds whether we can make this happen without them; which is a ton of responsibility, yet something they appreciate. 2

I never expected our singers to make so much progress in such a short time! I’m really proud of what they’ve accomplished and it fills me with joy. I was particularly moved with their actions last Sunday. The choir loft was exceedingly hot and we were sweating like crazy; but nobody complained. These are great people, and I know God will reward their service!

Ask a parent: “Would you like to snap your fingers and have your children instantly grow up?” Many parents would have to think before giving their answer. It requires a colossal amount of energy to raise children, and if they were grown, their parents could just relax and have fun all day. Yet, I think many parents would ultimately give this answer:

“Although raising children is difficult, I would not miss this for the world. I want to see them grow, in spite of the difficulties. I want to be part of their lives as they grow to adulthood.”

I think the same is true of choirs. Our choir is not perfect, and we still have much to learn. But I look forward to the journey and wouldn’t miss it for the world!



NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:

1   I’ve mentioned this subject in the past, and several people misunderstood what I wrote. Some thought I was condemning the idea of paid singers, which I never did. All I did was share my experiences in a truthful manner. Others said “I had no right” to share my experiences, and suggested I lie to our readers. I found that so offensive I actually instructed our Facebook moderator ban several people—because nobody is allowed to radically distort what our authors have written.

2   It also helps that I treat each singer the same and never play favorites.