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Learning to Understand the Language of Music: Music Theory at St. Philip’s

Music Theory RSCM awards
Pictured left to right: Roseanne Gudzan, Jean Carlton, Todd Brown, Choirmaster Pat Gould, Charlie Swanson, and Cassie Nagel. The light blue-ribboned Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) medals were awarded last week after a year of classes to the students who passed the RSCM test.
Have you ever looked at a hymn, wondering about the lines, dots, and squiggly things on the page? Or wanted to know why the choir paused, increased volume, or changed pace? Well, I did. While I enjoyed making a joyful noise, aka singing, I found it difficult to sing an unfamiliar hymn. I wanted to participate more fully in worship by learning how to read music.
I discovered other parishioners had the same desire. Several months ago, a group of us took advantage of a music theory course offered by St. Philip’s choirmaster and Royal School of Church Music instructor Pat Gould. The class is a mix of talent, experience, and ages, but we have a wonderful time learning more about music. To say I was the least knowledgeable would be a great understatement. With the exception of the words, assuming it was English, I had no clue what anything else on the page meant. Pat Gould, who recently celebrated 50 years as a choirmaster, is not only a wonderful organist and choirmaster, but a patient and wise instructor. She has a passion for teaching others the joy found in music. We have learned about rhythm, notes, scales, key signatures, and much more. I have learned not only how to spell fortissimo and pianissimo but also what they mean.
Is it challenging? Yes. Is it rewarding? Yes. Is it fun? Absolutely! Come join us Tuesday afternoons at 2:00 in the choir room on the second floor of the parish office building, the Ministries Hall, or just follow the sound of laughter. 
p.s. If enough people express interest in learning more about music, Pat will offer another introductory course.