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Report on Archdiocesan Linlithgow Singing Day 31 August

and
Analysis of Singing Day Questionnaire






















Report on the Music Day on 31 August 2013
at St Michael's, Linlithgow

The August music day was probably the biggest since the first of this series of events in 2002. Fifty-five people were present, including nine or ten guitarists and a number of organists. Father Paul Kelly started the day off with a blessing and a prayer.

The church was ideal for the occasion, with its excellent acoustic and choice of two organs and piano.
interior


Misia Paul led the singing of several modern hymns, and also Mass music by Gerry Fitzpatrick and Eugene Burns. Margaret Edie and Alison Hastie accompanied on the electronic organ. Michael Ferguson introduced his own newly-composed Mass, accompanying it himself on the piano.


Misia leading the singers.

Our two accompanists, Margaret (at the organ) and Alison.

Michael at the piano leading his own Mass.

After lunch, there was a split into two workshops, one for guitarists led by John Lindsay and one introducing the new book of easy hymns for beginner organists.



John and the guitars in the hall. John's workshop was so popular that it was decided that it should run on while Misia began the afternoon singing session.

The new book of easy hymn arrangements for beginners. Beginners Pat and Vincent from Linlithgow gave an impressive demonstration.

The day finished with everyone singing Eugene Burns's easy-to-learn St Magdalene Gloria, accompanied by Evelyn on the pipe organ.
The pipe organ at Linlithgow




FEEDBACK QUESTIONNAIRE
Results now analysed. Scroll down to read

A feedback questionnaire has been sent out to participants. We may not have got everyone's email, so apologies if you have been missed out, and please contact Evelyn at massmusic@forthinpraise.co.uk for a copy.

AUDIO FILES
Some people have asked whether it's possible to listen online to the new music, especially the Mass music. Two of the Mass composers have indeed posted audio files (see links below) and the modern hymns can almost certainly be found on Youtube.

A reminder of the music we used:

HYMNS
  • Because the Lord is my shepherd (Christopher Walker)
  • Let us go forth (Estelle White)
  • Bread for the world (Bernadette Farrell)
  • Blest are they, the poor in spirit (David Haas)
MASS MUSIC
  • Mass of St Andrew (Gerry Fitzpatrick)
  • Behold the Lamb of God (Gerry Fitzpatrick)

  • St Magdalene Gloria (Eugene Burns)
  • Chrisswell Mass (Eugene Burns)

  • Mass of God the Father (Michael Ferguson)
Audio files at St Mungo Music


Audio files at Eugene's website.

100 EASY HYMNS FOR ORGAN BEGINNERS (Forth in Praise)


AND FINALLY ...

Our singing days are not restricted to humans. One lady who comes trains guide dogs for the blind, and she will occasionally ask if she can bring a trainee with her.
1. Doggy is well-behaved, lying
obediently in the aisle.

2. Enter Justine, who has been walking her
own pooches. Trainee dog is immediately
interested, owner a bit concerned.
3. But there isn't a problem.
Justine loves dogs.


Scroll down to read the analysis of the questionnaire results.










Linlithgow Music Day 31 August 2013

Analysis of questionnaire results

Some feedback was received verbally and noted on the day, other data came from spontaneous emails and from the responses to the email questionnaire sent out a few days afterwards. Of the 55 participants, 19 gave us feedback of one kind or another, and the detail into which people went varied greatly.

If any participant out there hasn’t commented on the day, but would like to, please get in touch. We are always interested.

A REMINDER OF THE MUSIC (scroll up to the REPORT for online links)

HYMNS
  • Because the Lord is my shepherd (Christopher Walker)
  • Let us go forth (Estelle White)
  • Bread for the world (Bernadette Farrell)
  • Blest are they, the poor in spirit (David Haas)
100 Easy Hymns for Organ Beginners (Forth in Praise)

MASS MUSIC
  • Mass of St Andrew (Gerry Fitzpatrick)
  • Behold the Lamb of God (Gerry Fitzpatrick)

  • St Magdalene Gloria (Eugene Burns)
  • Chrisswell Mass (Eugene Burns)

  • Mass of God the Father (Michael Ferguson)

SUMMARY OF RESULTS:

CONTENT OF THE DAY

Most people were happy with the mix of modern hymns, Mass settings and organ and guitar items, but two people would have liked to have seen some chant.

THE MUSIC – HYMNS

Seven people commented on the hymns. Three liked them all without reservation: ‘excellent’, ‘all good’, ‘refreshing’. Two liked three of them. One liked two of them. One didn’t like any of them.

Adverse comments: Blest are they – ‘not sure about the Haas’; Let us go forth – ‘dirge-like’; Bread for the world – words ‘meaningless’, ‘didn’t make sense’; Because the Lord is my shepherd – ‘didn’t like rhythmic setting’, ‘speaking to the Lord in a trivial way’.

No-one commented on Misia’s part-writing, although approval of this is implicit, certainly in the comments of the people who liked the hymns. Probably everyone takes her expertise for granted!

THE MUSIC – SCOTTISH MASS SETTINGS

Nine people commented here.

Comments on Gerry Fitzpatrick’s Mass of St Andrew (Sanctus and Agnus) and Behold the Lamb were a bit confusing. Three of the respondents already knew these works and felt they didn’t need to comment! I think this can be taken as approval. One person said it was similar to the Dunkeld Mass, also by Gerry Fitzpatrick. Again, this will be approval, as the Dunkeld is popular. One person said the St Andrew Mass was ‘complicated’, another said it was ‘easy’. One person liked the Agnus, but thought the Sanctus was high. Another preferred the Sanctus to the Agnus! The variation in responses was probably because this music is already well-established and accepted. Those who knew it found it easy. There’s a moral in there somewhere!

Michael Ferguson’s brand-new Mass of God the Father, on the other hand, was completely unknown. Aimed at music groups, it was led by Michael himself from the piano, and its interesting style and the ease of picking it up made it a winner. Five people liked it enormously: ‘attractive, accessible’, ‘a refreshing change’, ‘marvellous’. One parish is already trying it out with their music group. Two slight reservations: one person felt that ‘negotiation’ would be needed to get their parish to accept it, and another wondered how it would stand a transfer to the organ, rather than being led by a music group.

Another popular piece was newcomer Eugene Burns’s very simple but tuneful St Magdalene Gloria, which five people liked: ‘excellent’, ‘excellent for the congregation’, ‘very useable’, ‘good for ordinary Sundays’. Eugene’s other work, the Chrisswell Mass, was also liked, but thought to be more difficult: ‘would need a choir to introduce it’, ‘more challenging but worth investing in’, ‘good for special occasions’.

One participant liked only one of the Mass settings, but didn’t say which!

GUITAR SESSION

This appears to have been thoroughly enjoyed by all the guitarists, including leader John Lindsay. Comments: ‘really enjoyed it’, ‘worth it if only for the guitar workshop’. One guitarist had told us that they feel a bit out of it with the new liturgy, and this workshop helped. There was a strong request for more such sessions.

ORGAN SESSION AND THE 100 EASY HYMNS

Seven comments. The hymn book was generally liked: ‘book excellent’, ‘loved the book’, ‘very useful for beginners’. Two criticisms: the simplified harmonies won’t always work with SATB singing, and one person doubted whether it could be used with an electronic piano. Stars of the show were Linlithgow beginners Pat and Vincent, who demonstrated some of the hymns on the small organ in the church. Take a bow, guys!

WHAT PEOPLE WOULD LIKE TO SEE IN FUTURE EVENTS (in no particular order)

  • More workshops for guitars
  • Events involving orchestral instruments
  • More help for organists
  • More chant
  • Less chant!
  • Taizé music
  • More Mass settings
  • More direction from the archdiocese on the new liturgy

OTHER REMARKS

Almost everyone commented favourably on the organisation, the high numbers attending and the general camaraderie: ‘well-organised’, ‘smooth-running’, ‘nice venue’, ‘impressed at the turnout’, ‘enjoyed meeting other parish singers’.

The leaders, especially Misia and John, were praised for their warm and friendly approach as well as their professionalism.

Two people remarked on the amount of preparation which must have been done by the Forth in Praise team, not to mention their work on the day. That was nice. The team does work hard.

NO-ONE remarked, so I’m going to do it now, on the good nature and also the excellent sight-singing of the participants. Their skill and enthusiasm were major factors in the success of the day.


Evelyn Stell
21 September 2013