Musicians workshop at Blessed Sacrament notes bringing the Word alive for teens



CHARLESTON — A praise worship workshop for singers and composers led by Ed and Karen Bolduc of St. Ann’s Life Teen in Marietta, Ga., drew about 60 musicians from across the diocese to Blessed Sacrament Church Jan. 27.

The morning session focused on technical support for musicians, such as the placement of individuals in groups, the types of sound systems available, and the newest computer programs for transposing music.

In the afternoon, the Bolduc’s, with Ed at the piano and Karen at an electronic keyboard, introduced some new songs to the group, and also explained the role of liturgical music as the backdrop to the Mass.

Ed Bolduc emphasized to the musicians that it was crucial to be in the proper frame of mind in order to perform to their highest potential. “Let the song be your prayer. Say, ‘God, hear my song. I want to praise you.'”

He also questioned the group as to where they get their music, listing radio and various Christian composing companies, and he called on them to draw from everywhere. In addition, copyright concerns were also addressed by the presenter, who covered areas ranging from reprint license to custom arrangements to license fees.

“Listen to recordings of songs with your whole group, then evaluate them,” Bolduc said. “Are you doing too many songs that have the same type of theme? Who will lead the songs?” he asked, saying that those are the types of questions music leaders need to keep in mind when selecting new material.

Bolduc continued, “Find out what you want to do, because everyone will have their own style. Do it genuinely and the congregation will go with you. Stretch out and do some different things and evaluate if it went well. Be hard on yourself with these decisions.”

Elaborating on the theme of difficult decisions, the Life Teen coordinator from Marietta said, “I don’t have a problem with the quality control thing.” He told the musicians to not be afraid to make a change in their group, using the phrase, “Don’t be held hostage by one person.”

At St. Ann’s, if someone wants to join Life Teen musicians, Bolduc asks them to come to the church sometime during the week so he can hear them alone. If the person is a quality performer, they then join the group for a three-month trial period, and their participation is evaluated at the end of that time.

Regarding the introductions and endings for liturgical music, the Bolduc’s performed examples of “ramping” the songs, or going from silence to quiet and building up to a crescendo and coming back down again. “If you open with a big sound, where do you go from there?” Ed Bolduc asked.

He stressed having various material in order so that quiet can be maintained when the Word is read. “Turn around. Don’t talk or draw attention to yourself. The Eucharist is the center of attention. Be attentive to what is happening. It’s important to know what’s going on.”

A liturgical music ministry takes a long time to develop, concluded Bolduc, who added that the importance of regular meetings with the presider, youth minister, and music director cannot be underestimated.

“Pray a lot. You’ll gradually get to where you want to get,” he said.

At the closing Mass for the workshop, Bishop Robert J. Baker, in his opening remarks, called Life Teen the greatest movement in the church in America in the last 10 years, and he expressed his hope that additional parishes would join this effort.

The bishop also thanked the music ministers present for sharing their faith, hope, and joy, saying he was celebrating the Mass for the intentions of youth in the diocese.