Fourth Chanting Psalmist Role at Holy Mass in Church - Part 2

(This is the continuation from Part 1)

I've always asked feedback from my kids because they can be quite brutally honest. I've learned so much from their feedback even when I was just starting as a temporary lector at the chapel to a regular lector at the parish church.

Now that I've "graduated" to becoming a psalmist, their comments and feedback are still valuable. I'm not a professionally trained singer after all.

Comments from the Kids

  • Not too good

    Of course, this didn't mean much at all, except that I suppose it didn't sound well enough for their ears. Another said that they didn't understand much of the verses that were recited and chanted.

  • Sounded "forced"

    Here's another one that didn't mean much to me. What does "forced" exactly mean?

I was getting frustrated and about ready to give up on the psalmist role in the coming months.

But I just had to prod them on. What did they mean? Then their answers were a revelation.

Apparently, I rushed through most of the verse's psalms during the chant. I recited or maybe even mumbled the lines quickly that the words became unintelligible. One asked if the lines could be cut and moved to the next verse.

Actually that suggestion sounded logical. But it may be difficult if not impossible to do. This is because it would require the choir to adjust to the changes on the verse. The choir, after all, is following the verses for the accompaniment. So, very minor changes are okay, and it is still best not to alter the psalms at all.

Comments from a Co-Lector

I spotted a co-lector, John, who attended my service. John is also a commissioned psalmist from the Basic Psalmist Seminar and Workshop. I called him up after the mass.

Ironically, John said that I was improving and was sounding better. I'm almost sure he was referring to my psalm tones. He's heard me before in my second psalm chant, so he could tell a difference.

He has no problem with the tune. At least that meant I was, at least, chanting in tune. His only suggestion was that my voice could be improved further by making it sound "rounder". Not sure what that meant exactly, but I assume he was referring to a fuller modulated voice. John used to be a choir member so I trust his remarks.

After I've heard these feedback and the suggestions to improve, I'm feeling more positive. This means I can improve. I can become better and it is a strong reason enough to continue as a Psalmist.

Lessons Learned

  1. Slow Down

    Recite the psalm verse lines s-l-o-w-l-y. This is to allow the congregation to hear the correct syllables that make up the words. The chanting would also sound more solemn.

  2. Pause within Long Verses

    Some psalm verse lines are just too long. Cut up the lines at logical and comprehensible points. This will allow you to pause and take a short breath. It also allows the congregation to hear the entire verse at "bite-size" pieces.

  3. Practice Maintaining the Tune

    The key to the above is to maintain the correct tune of the chanted verse all throughout. I suppose that was the reason I was hurrying the verse lines, i.e., I didn't want to lose my tune. So practice the verses slowly, with pauses, and with the correct tune.