HAVE, of course, shared with readers many times in the past my abiding love for the choir school tradition and the conviction that it would be the fastest and surest path to restoring musical sanity in our cathedrals and parishes and of bringing the light of true, good and beautiful sacred music into the daily experiences of parishioners everywhere.
I continually ask readers to imagine a choral program for children where the same children are taught to use their voices well, where they learn to read music at a deeper level each year and where, in grades 5 through 8 they sing through vast amounts of the greatest sacred choral music that Western Civilization has bequeathed to the modern world (especially Gregorian chant and polyphony). All the while, these same students are receiving serious tuition in keyboard and voice.
There are roughly 175 dioceses and archdioceses in the United States. If at the very least the primary cathedral of each diocese or archdiocese plus just one parish in each of these same geographical regions committed themselves to creating such programs and graduating at least 10 students each year, that would mean 3,500 students annually. In one generation (roughly 20 years) that would mean approximately 70,000 students. While the vast majority of those students would not go into music professionally, they would at least help to fill our parishes with congregations and choir members who would expect real sacred music sung to a high degree and who would be willing to finance it.
Lastly, there would be those students who would go on to be professional church musicians and who would have experienced greater portions of sacred music (and performed it to a higher degree) by the end of their 8th grade year than most American graduate students in music can boast of experiencing by the end of their master degree. I was very privileged to spend six weeks at the Madeleine Choir School in Salt Lake City and I can honestly say that experience was worth a graduate degree in itself. Nevertheless, I realize that this experience simply isn’t possible for most so I want to offer readers a second way. What follows are links to books, articles, videos, etc. that provide valuable information about choir schools and/or choral foundations. These tools cannot replace spending personal time at these institutions, but they will certainly whet one’s appetite for a first hand experience.
Catholic Choir School Models in the United States (Seighman)
The Choir School in the American (Anglican) Church (McGrath)
Lifelong Influences of Being a Chorister (Dong)
The Madeleine Choir School (Tappan)
USA Catholic Choir School Websites:
The Madeleine Choir School
Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church and Academy
St. Paul’s Choir School
I would recommend in general searching YouTube for videos about choir schools, auditioning to choir schools, life in choir schools, etc.