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

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.

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 to the lectures via our Eventbrite page. A link to admission to the concert coming soon!

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, 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 interpretations 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

Complete Concert Recording Available with Program and Translations

Our inaugural public lecture and concert series came to a close with a concert by Karen Clark (contralto) and Jonathan Dimmock (organ/organetto, baritone) entitled “The Marriage of Heaven and Earth: Medieval Reflections Music of St. Hildegard of Bingen, Pérotin, and St. Martial Ms.”

We are please to bring you a complete recording of the concert.

The program, with titles and translations, is available here. 

We apologize for the brief moments in which the sound peaks, maxing out the audio; we look forward to improving our sound setup for future concert recordings.

New Article in “Adoremus Bulletin” by CISM Director, Dr. Jennifer Donelson-Nowicka

A new article on singing the collects at Mass offers a step-by-step guide for priest, with the help of a trusted musician, to learn to match and control their pitched voice, and introduces them to sing the presidential prayers.

The traditional vesting prayers accompanying each item of the celebrant’s attire link the particular vestment to some spiritual reality. The prayer recited when assuming the alb, for example, reminds the priest that it is a symbol of being washed whiter than snow (Psalm 90:9) in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14), an appropriate reminder of the precious price of baptism. The stole is accompanied by a plea for the joy of eternal life despite one’s unworthiness. When the chasuble, often the heaviest garment of them all, is put on, the celebrant is reminded of Our Lord’s words in Matthew 11:30 that his “yoke is easy” and his “burden is light.”


In a similar way, the collects to be sung at Mass are appropriately clothed in the rich melodies which the Church holds in her musical wardrobe. Certainly, there are many overt prayers in the Psalms linking music and the offering of one’s self to God. Indeed, one might say that the garment of song, when it clothes the texts of the liturgy, is a symbol, a physical manifestation of the worship of God. Many a choir has prayed the following text before rehearsal, which captures this connection between song and the sacrifice one offers with that of Christ at the Mass: “May the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:15).


Surely this could also be the prayer of any priest singing the orations. Let us see, then, how, on both a theoretical and practical level, the singing of the collects by priests can achieve for pastors and parishes alike a tailor-made fit of music and words.

Keep reading…

For pointed texts of the presidential prayers according to the Roman Missal‘s “solemn tone,” check out the liturgical planner at Cantica Nova Publications. Click on the “L” on each Sunday to see the texts of the prayers; Italicized syllables are on the lower pitch (SOL).