The Cantor Education Roadmap


The page describes the online classes that are part of the Metropolitan Cantor Institute's cantor education curriculum. Classes are offered on a regular schedule throughout the year, and the entire sequence of courses can be completed in as little as two years.

Classes are taught through the Moodle distance learning system. All you need to take these courses is a computer or other Internet-connected device, speakers or headphones, and a microphone though which you can record your singing. (Certain courses, such as Introduction to Liturgy, have no singing component, and recording capability is not needed.)

The Basic Course

These classes cover the essentials of liturgy and chant, and are taught twice a year. It is not necessary to take all the courses in the same six-month period.

Class Length Prerequisites
When offered
Introduction to Liturgy 8 weeks none
Any time
Introduction to the Typikon 4 weeks Introduction to Liturgy
Any time
Introduction to Church Singing 8 weeks none (some singing experience recommended) Jan-Feb July-Aug
Reading in Church 4 weeks Introduction to Church Singing Mar-Apr Sept-Oct
Introduction to the Divine Liturgy 8 weeks Introduction to Liturgy and Introduction to Church Singing Mar-Apr Sept-Oct
Introduction to the Eight Tones 8 weeks Introduction to Church Singing May-June Nov-Dec

Once all classes are completed satisfactorily, the student will possess the necessary skills to serve as an assistant cantor, and occasionally lead the singing at the Sunday Divine Liturgy, and can enroll in the Intermediate Course.

The Intermediate Course

Like the Basic Course, the Intermediate Course is offered twice a year; courses can be spread out and do not have to be taken in order.

Class Length Prerequisites
When offered
The Liturgical Year 8 weeks Completion of the Basic Course Jan-Feb July-Aug
The Divine Liturgy 8 weeks Completion of the Basic Course Mar-Apr Sept-Oct
The Office of Vespers 8 weeks Completion of the Basic Course May-June Nov-Dec
Mastering the Eight Tones 8 weeks Completion of the Basic Course May-June Nov-Dec

Once all classes are completed satisfactorily, the student will possess the necessary skills to lead the singing at Vespers and the Divine Liturgy on ordinary Sundays and feast-days throughout the year, and can enroll in the Advanced Course.

The Advanced Course

The remaining classes can be started once the Intermediate Course is completed, and may be taken in any order.

Class Length Prerequisites When offered
The Great Fast and Holy Week 8 weeks Completion of the Intermediate Course January-February
From Pascha to All Saints 8 weeks Completion of the Intermediate Course March-April
Services for the Living 8 weeks Completion of the Intermediate Course May-June
Hierarchical Services and Reader Services 8 weeks Completion of the Intermediate Course July-August
Services for the Departed 8 weeks Completion of the Intermediate Course September-October
Services of Christmas and Theophany 6 weeks Completion of the Intermediate Course November-December

While taking the Advanced Course, each student is expected to assemble a portfolio of recordings of specific services at which they have led liturgical singing. (The exact list of services may vary depending on the cantor's parish situation, but will also include the Divine Liturgies of Saint John Chrysostom and Saint Basil, the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, selected Holy Week and Christmas services, and the funeral services.) MCI instructors will review these recordings and provide feedback and suggestions for any needed improvement.

Once all classes have been completed satisfactorily, the student may request an in-person examination for cantor certification, either in his or her home parish, or at a major event such as an eparchial pilgrimage. A Certification of Completion from the Metropolitan Cantor Institute, signed by the cantor's bishop, is awarded for completion of all coursework and a successful in-person demonstration of the cantor's ability to lead and sing the services.

Badges

Open badges are awarded to students as follows:

(course badge) One for each course completed
Reader For completion of Introduction to Liturgy, Introduction to Church Singing, and Reading in Church
Apprentice Cantor For completion of all classes in the Basic Course
Journeyman Cantor For completion of all classes in the Intermediate Course
Cantor For completion of all classes in the Advanced Course
Certified Cantor For completion of all cantor certification requirements

These can be used to display the skills you have learned and demonstrated through the MCI program.

Signing up for classes

The first step in the MCI Online program is to request a user ID and password by sending s request to mci@archpitt.org with the following information:

Once you have your ID and password, log in to Moodle at http://mci.archpitt.org/online and explore the available classes. You can sign up for Introduction to Liturgy and Introduction to the Typikon and take these courses for free, with no obligation to continue further.

To sign up for other courses, fill out the current registration form and mail it in, together with class tuition. Be sure you meet the course prerequisites. Introduction to Church Singing is required for ALL new students in the MCI Online program, since it teaches the basics of sight singing and ensures that all students have the skills to benefit from MCI classes.

Completing classes

One you are registered for a class, log in to Moodle regularly, and complete the class lessons in order. Although most classes are based on an 8-week schedule, you can do the assignments at your own pace. For effective learning, each class should be completed within 90 days; extensions can be granted.

To complete a class, simply finish all the individual steps in the class; Moodle keeps track of these for you. The goal is for you to learn the basics of liturgy, singing, and plain chant, and (over time) demonstrate your ability to (a) sing the services properly, and (b) lead congregational singing successfully.

What if I'm already a cantor?

Some courses in the program can be skipped, or taken by examination if the student is an experienced cantor.

However, since each class includes background information on leadership and practical aspects of church singing, and builds on the material taught in earlier classes, we recommend that even experienced cantors take all courses in the program. (Skilled cantors will find that they can complete some courses in much less than the standard eight weeks.)

Mentoring

Of course, assessing student singing through recordings is not as effective as having an instructor work with a student at the cantor stand. Therefore, anyone with at least five years experience as a cantor may apply to serve as an MCI mentor, and students may work with one of these mentors or another cantor on any mutually agreeable basis. Mentors can provide additional input to the MCI cantor education program, and (once guidelines are established) may also help with the portfolio review and cantor certification testing.

For more information

Contact MCI Director Jeffrey Mierzejewski at (412) 735-1676, or by e-mail at mci@archpitt.org.