top of page

Photo by Keith Lee Studios

The Exceptional Cantor.png
Level I.png

This course is for the serious cantor or music director in the modern Roman Catholic rite. You will trace the role of the cantor and sacred song through the course of Church history, make a guided reading of key Church documents, and discover how general sacred music principles apply in your life as a parish cantor. Once the context is established, it is easy to examine the role and responsibilities of the cantor in great depth.

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.

TUESDAY EVENINGS April 18 - May 16, 2023

6:00 - 7:30 pm, USA Central Time Zone

International Time Zones: Classes will be held at GMT - 5.

"For the past few years she has also been a very solid section leader for the Cathedral Choir and Schola,

and a superb cantor for Cathedral and Archdiocesan liturgies."


~ Dr. Horst Buchholz

Church Music Association of America, Vice President

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis & Archdiocese of Saint Louis

Former Director of Sacred Music

Lesson 1: A greater purpose ~ the Liturgy

One cannot understand sacred music without looking to its purpose: the Sacred Liturgy. We will begin our study with a look at what the Roman Catholic Church says about the Liturgy, with an overview of key documents from Vatican II and the USCCB. Included in our agenda: the structure of the Mass, the call to (and meaning of) active participation, and the role of silence.​

Lesson 2: Our "inestimable treasure" of sacred song

Once we have an understanding of the Sacred Liturgy, we will delve into the role that sacred music plays within it. Vatican II calls our heritage of sacred music an "inestimable treasure." We will explore the purpose and qualities of sacred music, and the place of the antiphons, Gregorian chant and Latin, as well as new compositions and music in our native tongue. We will look back into history for ancient roots of the role of today's cantor, and last, touch upon some hot button issues about which every cantor should be aware.

Lesson 3: Sung parts of the Mass

This lesson will help you to conquer your fear of the unknown. We will make a detailed analysis of all the sung parts of the Mass, to whom each part properly belongs, and the cantor's role in facilitating many of these. In tandem, we will identify the specific liturgical cues which precede each piece, so you will be confident always in knowing exactly when to begin singing. We will also treat specific ways in which sacred music rubrics change for specific days and liturgical seasons, so you won't be caught off guard by unexpected alterations in the Liturgy.

Lesson 4: Music every cantor should know

Sometimes it seems overwhelming, since there is so much music to learn for the Mass, and every week it's different. Believe it or not, however, there actually is a core of Catholic repertoire with which every cantor should be familiar. In this lesson we will look at specific musical pieces: dialogues of the Mass, key Mass settings, and other special liturgical songs which happen every year, but will catch you by surprise if you are not prepared for them. We will also explore some sacred solo works which are well worth learning.

Lesson 5: Seven habits of the exceptional cantor

In this final lesson, Angela is going to share with you personal habits that she has honed over twenty years of experience as a cantor in over 60 parishes and 3 cathedrals. These habits cover the gamut: musicianship, self care, use of the microphone, cultivating a working relationship with the organist, being sensitive to the Liturgy, leaving the "truth bat" at home, and spiritual preparation. 


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.


Students must have copies of their parish's cantor music resources (hymnal/s, psalm & acclamation books, etc.). All students will receive online access to educational materials via an exclusive student resources page. 

Technical Requirements

A desktop computer, laptop, or tablet (the larger the screen the better) equipped with videocamera and microphone (no cell phones, please). Internal computer sound systems are notoriously poor at reliably transmitting singing. Excellent external microphones are readily available and reasonably priced. Ask for recommendations. Reliable access to high-speed internet is a must. Students are responsible for having working technology. 



$300 USD

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

Ask your parish whether funding is available for continuing education.

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

bottom of page