HIS WEEK, I’m blogging from the NPM Convention in Washington, DC. This is the first convention I’ve attended since 2007.
In the liturgical-music circles I typically frequent, NPM (the National Association of Pastoral Musicians) is seen as something of a lost cause. I’ll admit that as recently as a few years ago, I thought so, too. My experience at the national convention went something like this:
Listen to the opening address, which is guaranteed to be a misunderstood and tedious hammering of the principle of “active participation.” Attend a few breakouts, where I either learn a little bit, disagree with the presenter entirely, or patiently wait until they stop hocking their own products. Skip the industry showcases, because 19 out of 20 free pieces they hand you will never be of use (go anyway, and take the free music. They want to give it to you. Then just leave). Get frustrated.
That, at least was my previous experience. Maybe I’ve grown up, or maybe something has changed. Maybe a little of both. To be sure, this convention is still loaded with sponsorship from the publishers, and everyone is still trying to sell you something. However, there is a different feel. People are starting to become aware of the propers. In my opinion, the new translation of the Missal has caused people to take a closer look at the actual texts of the Mass, and try their best to incorporate it.
There is still a long way to go. There is much resistance and the status quo is still the status quo. But something is different. There is movement, and I think it has to happen from within the organization instead of taking shots from without. People are willing to learn, and they are starting to discover exactly what we’ve lost over the course of 50 years. That’s been my experience from my conversations this year.