St. Patrick’s Seminary, Menlo Park, California

Catholic Institute

of Sacred Music

Online Workshops

Online via ZOOM

$20 per topic for live workshops

$50 for all 3 topics in fall term series

$10 extra per topic for archived access

Pre-registration required

Gregorian Psalm Tones

Mondays, September 25 & October 2, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m., PDT

Join us for two Monday evenings as Dr. Donelson-Nowicka explains how to chant the Psalms according to the Gregorian psalm tones.

You’ll study the anatomy of a psalm tone, the relationship between the tone and the mode, as well as the relationship between the tone and the antiphon. The workshop will focus on how to point the text (put the correct notes on the correct syllables) according to the required accentuation patterns and preparatory syllables. Dynamics and tempo considerations for the phrasing will also be addressed. Sessions will present the texts sung in Latin.

Techniques for Teaching Gregorian Chant to Your Parish Choir

Mondays, October 16 and 23, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m., PDT

Are you looking to refresh your pedagogical techniques so that your parish choir feels confident and enthusiastic about singing Gregorian chant? Join Dr. Donelson-Nowicka as she covers different teaching techniques to start a new chant with your choir, help them feel more confident on the melodic intervals in the melody, and have a strong sense of the phrasing in the piece.

Solfège 101: Solfège Basics & How to Use It to Learn and Teach Basic Chants

Mondays, October 30, November 6, and 13, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m., PDT/PST

Designed and paced for absolute beginners to solfège, and presenting teaching models for those music directors who teach chant novices, this series will cover the basics of solfège, focusing on major-mode patterns familiar to the modern ear. Attendees will learn drills for improving their ability to use the solfège syllables to sight-sing and audiate (hear the music in their minds). Exercises will be applied in easy chants within the repertoire that are accessible to new singers of chant.


Solemn Liturgies. 30+ Presentations. 4 Keynote Lectures.

Join us this November for this important and timely conference.

Registration deadline: Monday, October 16th 

Fall 2023 Public Lecture & Concert Series

Contemplating Our Lady of Sorrows through Sacred Art and Music

Monday, September 11, 2023, 5:00 p.m. PDT

Lecture, Dr. Emily Thelen
Online via Zoom

Low Style and High Style in Catholic England

Tuesday, November 7, 2023, 5:45 p.m. PST

Lecture, Dr. Kerry McCarthy, author of Byrd and Tallis
Part of the Ron Alexander Memorial Lectures in Musicology of the Stanford University Department of Music, and Part of the “Musical Shape of the Liturgy” Conference

Sancta Maria Hall at St. Patrick’s Seminary & Online via Zoom

Advent and Christmas Concert

Friday, December 1, 2023, 7 p.m. PST

Concert, St. Patrick’s Seminary Schola Cantorum
Dr. Jennifer Donelson-Nowicka, Director

Main Chapel at St. Patrick’s Seminary

Next Event of the Fall Series

Low Style and High Style in Catholic England

Lecture by Dr. Kerry McCarthy
Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023 – 5:45 p.m. PST
In-person and Online via Zoom, Reception following in-person event

Pre-Reformation England is known for having produced some incredibly complex choral music, as epitomized in the big motets and Magnificats of the Eton Choirbook. The English church around 1500 also had room for many other kinds of music, including much simpler ways of composing, various improvisatory techniques, and what we might call “low style” in all its varieties. It was a complex and healthy musical ecosystem that contained a great diversity of singing styles. We can explore this continuum with help from the testimonies of early Tudor singers, the resources they used, and the reports of contemporary listeners (including the traveling scholar Erasmus, who was notoriously unimpressed with both English high style and English low style.) A brief musical tour of pre-Reformation England may also offer some insights to liturgical musicians five centuries later.

This lecture is part of the Ron Alexander Memorial Lectures in Musicology of the Stanford University Department of Music, and part of the “Musical Shape of the Liturgy” Conference.


An Amazing First Summer!



From Our Director’s Desk

Dear friends of the Catholic Institute of Sacred Music,

It’s been an amazing first summer!

Almost 100 students joined us from around the country, Canada, Japan, and Mozambique, as well as from the Bay Area here in California.

  • 28 students in our auditioned, mixed-voice choir sang for Lauds, Mass, and Vespers daily in our Choral Institute, directed by Prof. Christopher Berry and Dr. Donelson-Nowicka, accompanied by improvisations at Mass by Organ Improvisation students mentored by Dr. Christoph Tietze.
  • Dr. Frank La Rocca’s Composition students premiered short works for parish choirs, sung by the students of the Choral Institute
  • Students presented strategic plans for their parish music programs they produced in Parish Sacred Music Program Management
  • Introduction to Chant students sang Lauds daily, as well as a Votive Mass of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus, all while preparing to sing and conduct three chants for their final exams with Dr. Donelson-Nowicka
  • Chironomy students each prepared and directed a complete chanted Mass Ordinary and Proper for their final exams
  • Gregorian Rhythm students presented two different interpreations of chants to their class with Dr. Charles Weaver
  • Students in History and Principles of Sacred Music wrapped up over two months of study and discussion, turning in their term papers and final exams
  • After an intensive study of the History of the Roman Rite with Fr. Nicholas Schneider, students turned in a series of concise essays, exercising their scholarly abilities to summarize and synthesize what they learned
  • After a masterful seminar studying and singing Chants of the Divine Office with Dr. William Mahrt, students have turned in their final exams
  • Wrapping up two months of intensive Latin study with one of the finest Latinists in the world (Dr. John Pepino), students demonstrated their knowledge of the language in the Psalms
  • Student teachers, trained in the first level of the Ward Method, gave teaching demonstrations to their fellow students in Dr. Donelson-Nowicka’s class

We can’t wait for next summer!

In the meantime, we hope you’ll be able to join us for in-person and online workshops, lectures, and seminars, as well as our first conference this upcoming November!

Dr. Jennifer Donelson-Nowicka, Director, Catholic Institute of Sacred Music

Our Mission

Founded in 2022, the mission of the Catholic Institute of Sacred Music is to draw souls to Jesus Christ through the beauty of sacred music and the liturgy. 

The Institute offers a substantial program of accredited, graduate-level coursework designed to help church musicians and clergy better to know and love the Church’s treasury of sacred music and her teachings on sacred music. Our goal is to equip students with the theological, philosophical, and historical knowledge, as well as the practical skills (singing, playing, conducting, composing, organizing, fundraising) necessary to build excellent sacred music programs in parishes and schools. We aim to help others revitalize the faith of Catholics and instill vitality in parish and school life through a vibrant sacred music program.

We are committed to a faithful and generous service of the Church. We cultivate fidelity, resiliency, a healthy sense of creativity, and selflessness within our student body and faculty as characteristics of our service as we labor together in the vineyard of the Lord to bring in a rich harvest. 

St. Patrick’s Seminary, in Menlo Park, California

For the past 125 years, St. Patrick’s Seminary has successfully prepared men to become Roman Catholic priests in conformity to Christ. Its expansive park-like grounds, historic chapel, modern classrooms, and extensive library provide an ideal environment for prayer, meditation, and study, within close proximity to major urban centers that provide rich field education opportunities. The integrated process of human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral formation at St. Patrick’s Seminary revolves around our core values of spiritual fatherhood, fidelity, holiness, wisdom, evangelization, resiliency, and compassion. 


A whole term of workshops!

Looking for some refreshers on your singing or teaching of chant? We've got you covered with the fall workshop series, online via Zoom. Registration is available here. Gregorian Psalm Tones Mondays, September 25 & October 2, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m., PDT...

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Fall 2023 Public Lecture and Concert Series Announced

We hope you can join us for what promises to be an exciting season. Two fantastic scholars will kick things off with lectures, and our first-ever Advent and Christmas concert of the St. Patrick's Seminary Schola Cantorum will wrap up the fall term. RSVP for admission...

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An Amazing First Summer!

From Our Director’s Desk Dear friends of the Catholic Institute of Sacred Music, It’s been an amazing first summer! Almost 100 students joined us from around the country, Canada, Japan, and Mozambique, as well as from the Bay Area here in California. 28 students in...

read more

Thanks for joining us in our inaugural season!

As we conclude our first full semester of activities, we want to say "thank you" for being a part of the Catholic Institute of Sacred Music! Because of your support and participation, we have already been able to accomplish great things for Christ and His Holy Church....

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