Children, Chant and Percussion
Sitting in a cold sports arena in northern Massachusetts during a high school winter percussion rehearsal is not exactly where I might be inclined to think about chant. But, as I was listening to the marimba and vibraphone warm-up, I was struck by the fact that the exercise was actually a modal exercise — Mode V in fact. The kids playing that exercise find performing a piece on a chant mode just as normal as a major or minor scale!
All of the members of this winter percussion group attend the service of Lauds every morning so, just like the percussion instruments they so enthusiastically play, the chant is something that has come to be a part of them and their everyday experience.
Listening to them play, you can tell that they have developed a sense of how to breathe and “speak” together and that has come at least, in part, from their daily attendance of the Divine Office. What an inspiration it is to hear and see the dedication of these teenagers as they work so diligently in preparation for their upcoming shows. Anyone who has been involved in the arts knows that much of what is required is consistent determination — daily working at the craft — just like our work as cantors. It makes me wonder if, the next time we are at Lauds, if I will see the faces of these young people and be reminded of that Mode V keyboard warm-up — one more great example of chant as part of everyday life!