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This course is for the serious cantor or music director in the modern Roman Catholic rite. 

You will learn to:

  • Speak knowledgeably about what the Church asks regarding sacred music

  • Imbue your singing with a sense of the sacred

  • Know exactly what to sing, and when

  • Anticipate and support the musical needs of your parish 

  • Turn complaints into educational opportunities​

This course is taught by Angela Rocchio live, via Zoom.

Seats limited to 5 cantors.

Future dates TBA (classes run approximately 2 hours each)

"I appreciated the ease of communication between everyone in class. I tend to be very inquisitive and love to ask questions and the way the class was managed made this very easy. There is often a TON of information to get through, but Angela was very adept at letting us know when there was a lot of material to cover, yet also making time for questions when/if they should arise. The most valuable takeaway from the course wast the vast breadth of resources that are out there with regard to sacred music. Not only the numerous Church documents that provide guidance, but all the additional resources we were introduced to throughout the course."


~ Jonathan B, cantor in Wisconsin, USA

Lesson 1: A liturgical foundation

One cannot undertake a study of sacred music without due attention to the Liturgy. This course will begin with an overview of key theological principles and an introduction to relevant conciliar, papal, and episcopal documents. (Sections from these documents will be assigned for reading and class reflection over the duration of Level I.)

The role of the cantor has been shaped by the musical needs of the Church through the ages. We will trace this role through history: starting with Miriam’s song at the Red Sea, the persecution of the early Christians, the reign of Charlemagne, liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council, and into the present day.

Lesson 2: The inestimable treasure of sacred song

The Second Vatican Council states, “The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, par. 112). 

The class will investigate the question, "What is sacred music?" both in principle, and​ with regard to specific present-day considerations:

  • the call to active participation

  • “pride of place” and Gregorian chant

  • Latin and the vernacular (native language)

  • paraphrases vs. verbatim texts

  • Should there be a canon of sacred song that every Catholic should know?

  • Why do we find contradictions among some of the Church documents? 

  • Is there a place for solos in the Liturgy? 

These subjects will be analyzed and discussed by students with respect to the wisdom found in Church documents.

Lesson 3: Sing the Mass

The modern Roman Catholic Liturgy may be celebrated in widely (or wildly) different ways. The phenomenon is due, at least in part, to the tremendous variety of prescribed options found within the rite. Establish the three degrees of sung participation in the Mass, and analyze the sung parts of the Mass, to whom each part properly belongs, and the cantor's role in facilitating many of these. Study the Church’s blueprint for the order of the Mass: the Roman Missal and its General Instruction.

Drawing on concepts established during Lesson 2, students will identify specific qualities of sacred music, and demonstrate this knowledge with practical examples of pieces which are/are not suitable to the Liturgy. An extensive cantor checklist, outlining every sung element of the Mass and its corresponding cue, will be completed, enabling one to know exactly what to sing, and when.

Lesson 4: Music every cantor should know

Distinguish certain roles the modern-day cantor may be expected to fill (e.g. psalmist, song leader, and soloist), and the kind of repertoire associated with each. Identify the famous “four options” prescribed in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal for the entrance, offertory, and communion songs (hymns are just one of the four options).

Discover a core Catholic repertoire with which every cantor and music director should be familiar: antiphons, dialogues, Mass settings, and other prescribed texts (e.g. sequences, the Song of Farewell, and the Exsultet). Honorable mention will be given to certain classic, sacred solos in the public domain. Explore the wealth of repertoire of the ICA Cantor Resources page, with links to useful sheet music, recordings, and other resources, all free for use online. 

Lesson 5: Seven habits of the exceptional cantor

Angela will share success habits developed over twenty years of experience as a cantor in over 60 parishes and 3 cathedrals. 


Ability to sing on pitch and to read music. Current involvement in a Roman Catholic parish music program, or intention to develop skills for the purpose of applying for a new position. Experience singing solo in a group setting is recommended.


Student must have copies of their parish's cantor music resources (hymnal/s, psalm & acclamation books, etc.). Three ring binder and access to a printer recommended. Student will receive online access to all educational materials via an exclusive student resources page.

Student may prefer to obtain printed copies of: Sacrosanctum Concilium (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy - Vatican II document), Musicam Sacram (Instruction on Music in the Liturgy - Vatican II document), General Instruction of the Roman Missal, Third Edition (released by USCCB in 2010), and Sing to the Lord (USCCB document released in 2007).

Technical Requirements

A desktop computer, laptop, or tablet (the larger the screen the better) equipped with videocamera and microphone (no cell phones, please). Reliable access to high-speed internet is a must. Student is responsible for working technology. 



$325 USD per level

Your seat will be secured once tuition is paid in full.

Save $100 when you register and pay tuition for both Level I and Level II at once.

Ask your parish whether funding is available for continuing education.

Tuition may also be tax deductible for professional (compensated) musicians.

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