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.)

Public Classes (open to all)

These classes are available at no charge to anyone interested in learning about the liturgy and musical tradition of our church. They are offered year-round, and can be taken at any time.

Class Length Prerequisites
Introduction to Liturgy 8 weeks none

Introduction to Church Singing (starts November 4)

8 weeks none (some singing experience recommended)
Introduction to the Typikon 4 weeks Introduction to Liturgy

To enroll, simply request a user ID and password by pointing a web browser to http://mci.archpitt.org/online. Click on Log in (in the upper right), then on Create new account. Once you have your ID and password, log in to Moodle at http://mci.archpitt.org/online and select one of the free courses, then click on Enroll me in this course. If you encounter any problems, please contact us at mci@archpitt.org!

Note: The Introduction to Church Singing course requires a fair amount of instructor time for each student. Therefore, this class is available free only to members (clergy, cantors, and parishioners) of the Byzantine Catholic Church in the United States. When requesting a user ID, please provide your parish membership in the form "parish, city, state"; for example, "St. Mary's, Morgantown, WV". Non-church members who desire to enroll in Introduction to Church Singing should fill out and submit this form.

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
Reading in Church 6 weeks Introduction to Church Singing Jan-Feb July-August
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

Course dates and registration form (Spring 2019)

Once all classes are completed satisfactorily, the student will receive the Apprentice Cantor badge, 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. These classes teach the necessary skills to lead the singing at Vespers and the Divine Liturgy on ordinary Sundays and feast-days throughout the year.

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

Course dates and registration form (Spring 2019)

Once all classes are completed satisfactorily, the student will receive the Journeyman Cantor badge, 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 6 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

Course dates and registration form (2019)

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.

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?

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. Since students can work at their own pace, skilled cantors will find that they can complete some courses in much less than the standard eight weeks.

Exception: since the only difference between Introduction to the Divine Liturgy and The Divine Liturgy is the amount of sung material that must be learned and demonstrated, experienced cantors may ask to skip the introductory class and take the comprehensive one. The two classes are always offered at the same time, so it is possible to switch back to the introductory class if necessary.

For more information

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