These suggestions are directed specifically to the parishioner who is becoming or has become a song leader and cantor.
1. Sing in such a way that you pro¬claim the praises of God.
2. Reflect on the Sunday Scripture passages well before the liturgy. It will help you to focus your attention during the readings and see how the psalm fits in as the peo¬ples response.
3. Realize that as a music minister, your role is to serve the parish community.
4. Sing the psalm verses from the ambo as part of the proclamation of the word.
5. Be faithful to your service. Try to make regular rehearsals and arrange for a substitute if you can¬not fulfill your ministry on a given Sunday.
6. Learn all new music well enough yourself to maintain eye contact with the congregation when teaching it. 7. Stand erect. When singing, mentally aim the sound up and out through the front of your forehead.
8. Use round vowel sounds, as in the word show” and clearly articu¬lated consonants, especially at the ends of words such as God.
9. Take advantage of any opportu¬nities available to improve your vocal skills.
10. Invite others to sing so it becomes clear that the most impor¬tant instrument in the liturgy is the assemblys voice.
11. Dress appropriately.
12. Be open to different cultural traditions and musical practices.
13. Check for correct pronunciation if some of the music you sing is in a language other than your native tongue.
14. Try to be a worshiper yourself while you serve the worship of the assembly.
15. Smile! Enjoy the sound of a singing assembly.
16. Be gracious when parishioners compliment you. Let them know you appreciate it.
17. Accept criticism and suggestions from them graciously, too. “Thanks, Ill think about that,” is often enough to say.
18. Be patient in building congre¬gational singing in the parish.
19. Give yourself enough time before Mass to get settled and pre¬pared.
20. Make sure your music is in order.
21. Decide which songs you may need to practice with the organist/ instrumentalist(s) before Mass begins and start practicing well in advance of the congregations arrival. Whenever possible, prac¬tice in some space other than the church. .
22. Spend a few minutes vocaliz¬ing, then practice your weak spots in solo passages as well as the beginnings of each selection.
23. Read over the commentary or introductory remarks (if you have not written it yourself) so you will be able to instruct the assembly clearly about who is presiding, receiving the sacrament of bap¬tism, and so on.
24. Inquire about special events that are scheduled at Mass: installation of ministers, rites of initiation, special blessings, etc. Be sure to know what is expected of you.
25. Adjust the microphone to the position where your voice is heard most clearly.
26. Try to position yourself, when not at the ambo, so that you are sufficiently visible to the congrega¬tion but not overly prominent.
27. With the instrumentalist decide on the tempo, number of verses, key changes; there ought to be unanimity of spirit between you. During the liturgy, the cantor is the director.
28. Teach new music by singing it once for the assembly as a solo before asking them to try it. Singing even a simple refrain sev¬eral times helps people to feel com¬ fortable enough to join in.
29. Collect yourself prayerfully just before the Mass begins.
30. Relax by taking several SLOW, DEEP BREATHS.
31. Walk reverently to your posi¬tion.
32. Use clear and generous arm gestures to signal the assembly when to sit, stand, kneel, and to begin singing, particularly for the service music: the holy holy, memorial acclamation, amen, Lamb of God.
33. Try to engage the congregation with eye contact, at least at the beginning of each phrase.
34. Show self-confidence.
35. Project your voice clearly and deliberately.
36. Step back from the microphone to allow the assembly to hear themselves singing.
37. Animate the assembly by your own enthusiasm for the song. Sing and speak from your heart.
38. Turn to the presider during the introductory rites.
39. Let go of all music and sit for the proclamation of the Scripture.
40. Observe a brief period of silence after the first reading, allowing the word some “time to breathe” before beginning the psalm. If any late-comers are still being seated, wait a moment to begin.
41. Listen attentively to the Scriptures and homily.
42. Stand at your chair for the creed and general intercessions (unless sung).
43. Memorize the sung parts of the eucharistic prayer so that you can lead the congregation.
44. Bring in the assembly for the memorial acclamation and amen immediately following the priests invitation without an extended musical introduction.
1. Come before the assembly unpre¬pared spiritually and musically.
2. Expect to feel like animating an assembly every time you are can¬tor. Some days you will need to admit your own lack of energy to yourself and to God and beg the Spirit to work through you.
3. Change the music without con¬sulting the music director and the
presider. The homily might refer to the hymns or psalms previously selected.
4. Show displeasure by facial or bodily gesture with the assembly, the priest, the accompanist, or yourself.
5. Stop, laugh, or grimace if you make a mistake, drawing attention to yourself. Often no one will even notice if you just take the error in stride and keep singing.
6. Conduct the assembly when leading them in song.
7. Try to out sing the assembly.
8. Treat the assembly as either a choir (with a choirs ability) or as an audience (listening to you sing).
9. Be afraid to open your mouth. A properly shaped mouth is essential for correct vowel sounds.
10. Engage in chatter with the con¬gregation when preparing them before Mass.
11. Patronize the assembly
12. Use so many unfamiliar songs as to require a long rehearsal of the congregation before Mass.
13. Use unnecessary or overly flamboyant gestures or words. Once a gesture is visible and the words are audible, then “less is more.”
14. Deny the people their rightful acclamations and responses.
15. Leave during the homily or chat with others or in any way be a distraction during Mass.
16. Be so serious about the music that you forget your role is to help create a climate for prayer.
17. Let the assembly turn you into a performer.