The OCA Music Department again offers its popular introductory online courses for the benefit of church singers and conductors. This semester we are also pleased to offer the opportunity for intermediate- and advanced-level conductors to take private lessons with Dr. Peter Jermihov.
Registration links and costs are as follows:
The Conducting Techniques course will begin on Monday, January 22, concluding the week of April 8; the Sight-Singing class will begin on Monday, January 29, and conclude the week of April 1.
Last semester, 27 learners took the Sight-Singing and Ear Training class, while 10 learners availed themselves of the Conducting Technique class. Seven conductors took individual conducting lessons.
Classes are expected to fill up very quickly, and once all available spaces are filled, prospective learners will be placed on a waiting list to fill any possible openings.
About the Classes
To successfully complete the courses, students should consider that they are expected to commit at least three to four hours per week on required course work and practice. Information about each course can be found at the end of this announcement.
Each class consists of pre-recorded lessons that students can watch asynchronously on their own schedule, one per week. Every lesson has a homework component, and then each student is expected to meet online with a course instructor for 20-30 minutes—to ask questions and to give the instructor an opportunity to monitor each student’s progress and offer assistance as necessary.
These courses and individual lessons are meeting the needs of church singers and choir directors in the parishes The positive feedback received includes such comments as
“I can now look at a Tone and pitch it and sing the melody… The tools I learned in the class will help me to continue to grow in my singing abilities.”
“[The sight-singing course] gave a very good foundation for sight singing. I can pick up a piece of music in any of the keys we learned and know how to sing it. Fabulous!”
“Learning the structure of troparia, stichera, and canon [melodies] was very helpful.”
“From the point of view of one with only a little, prior musical training, I have found the course-work so far to be amazingly helpful… in an immediate way. Right off the bat I began improving,… being able to just ‘know’ what note I needed to be reaching for based on what was written on the page.”
“The [conducting] course content was perfect. Always challenging, yet fun! That is what made it so perfect!”
“I liked being able to watch the [conducting] videos multiple times. I especially appreciated the Zoom interactive sessions. Thanks!”
“[The conducting course] actually fulfilled goals I didn’t even know I should have—such as score analysis.”
(Individual Conducting Lessons)
“[Dr. Jermihov] identified and then corrected some bad conducting habits that I had developed over the years. His attention to detail enables him to quickly diagnose faults and unintentional miscommunications that I was completely unaware of in [my] conducting…”
“Dr. Jermihov is helping me to develop a more advanced vocabulary of gestures to communicate with my choir. Your choir and parish will appreciate the time you take to learn with Dr. J!”
“Dr. Jermihov explains the core principles of conducting in a very clear and comprehensive way…. Most importantly, Dr. Jermihov is a very passionate teacher who has warm and friendly personality.”
“[Studying] conducting with Dr Peter Jermihov,… I have grown both as a musician and as a conductor, gaining knowledge and conducting skills….This would not be possible if it were not for Dr. Jermihov sharing with me his knowledge, experience, and passion for Orthodoxy and Orthodox Church music.”
The online courses strive to accommodate the greatest number of students, while offering each student the maximum personalized attention, according to Dr. Vladimir Morosan, Project Lead for Online Instruction for the Department of Liturgical Music. An outstanding and dedicated team of assistant instructors has been assembled to help teach the classes: for Sight Singing and Ear Training —
Deacon Anthony Stokes (St. Maximus Orthodox Church, Denton, TX)
Tracey Edson (St. Nicholas Church, Portland, OR)
Protinica Michelle Jannakos (St. Luke Orthodox Church, Palos Hills, IL)
Zachariah Mandell (St. Mary’s Cathedral, Minneapolis, MN)
Andrew Ritchey (St. Symeon Orthodox Church, Birmingham, AL)
Assisting with the conducting class will be:
Anastasia Kappanadze (St. Tikhon’s Monastery, PA)
Jacob Mandell (St. Michael’s Orthodox Church in Irvona, PA, and Nativity of the Theotokos Orthodox Church in Madera, PA)
Dr. Vladimir Morosan (St. Katherine Orthodox Mission, Carlsbad, CA)
Individual lessons for intermediate- and advanced-level conductors are taught by Dr. Peter Jermihov, a life-long church musician, who has served as a choir director, chanter, teacher, composer and arranger, in a number of parishes in various jurisdictions, including the OCA, ROCOR, the Moscow Patriarchate, and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. His mission as a church musician is to bring beauty and professional competence to Divine Worship.
Jermihov holds the DMA Degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Illinois at Urbana and studied orchestral conducting at the St. Petersburg Conservatory under Ilya Musin. He is founder and artistic director of the Society of Saint Romanos the Melodist, a not-for-profit corporation devoted to the furtherance of Orthodox culture in America. For a more complete description of Dr. Jermihov’s career, please visit www.peterjermihov.com.
The Basic Sight-Singing and Ear Training Class
This class is designed specifically with the needs of singers in Orthodox church choirs. The course emphasizes the mastery of basic intervals, scales, and rhythms that are encountered in liturgical hymns. In order to succeed in this course, a person needs to love to sing and be able to ‘carry a tune,’ but doesn’t need to have any prior knowledge of music theory.
The course is taught using the online Google Classroom platform, with weekly face-to-face meetings on Zoom. Topics will include intervals and scales, rhythmic notation, key signatures, and time signatures, using examples from liturgical hymns whenever possible.
If you are thinking of taking this class, please consider whether you have a solid 3 to 4 hours per week (45-50 minutes most weekdays) to devote to this class. The new auditory and vocal skills you will be learning require consistent and extensive practice over the full 10-week period. One learner recently wrote: “I seriously overestimated my ability to devote the necessary time to the weekly exercises.”
The Basic Conducting Technique Class
The class is oriented towards beginner conductors or those who are currently conducting a choir but have not completed a formal conducting course. Topics covered include basic posture and visual communication by means of gestures; giving the pitch; preparing, starting and stopping the sound; elementary beat patterns; relationships of beat patterns to word patterns; beginning score analysis.
Familiarity with musical notation and basic music theory (key signatures, time signatures, intervals) is a prerequisite. All prospective learners will be asked to take a Basic Music Theory Assessment Quiz, to ensure that they have the theory skills to successfully complete the various assignments for this course.
If you are thinking of taking this class, please consider whether you have a solid 3 to 4 hours per week (45-50 minutes most weekdays) to devote to this class. The new physical (kinesthetic) skills you will be learning require consistent and extensive practice over the full 12-week period.
Also, each week has a homework component that involves score study and analysis—an essential skill for a choir director. As one learner reported: “Each week had a different degree of difficulty. One definitely needed time to study and practice. The course was not easy.”
Individual Conducting Lessons – Intermediate and Advanced
Weekly individual conducting lessons (50 minutes per lesson, using Zoom) are available in Blocks of four. A standard course of study consists of 4 Blocks – 16 lessons; but students have the option of signing up and paying for 1 Block (4 lessons), 2 Blocks (8 lessons), or 3 Blocks (12 lessons). Please specify the number of Blocks desired when you register.
Individualized objectives are determined in consultation with the instructor, and will include a range of topics, from different styles of beating, to conducting recitative and mixed meter, score analysis, and rehearsal preparation. Repertoire studied is determined by agreement and in alignment with individual objectives. Expected practice time: 30-60 minutes per day, 5 days per week.
Intermediate conductors are expected to read music, have a working knowledge of key signatures and staff notation, and be able to hear and accurately discern pitches and intervals; they should be able to sing any given part of a 4-part choral score, and have some experience directing an ensemble or currently hold a conducting position.
Advanced conductors should have completed a music degree—either an undergraduate or graduate degree, or, at the very least, be in their 3rd year of a 4-year music degree program. This presupposes the completion of the standard 2-year sequence of courses in music theory, ear-training, and keyboard harmony. Advanced conductors should have the basic ability to analyze a- score and be able to play a 4-part choral score at the piano (not necessarily at a performance level or tempo). They should have, also, conducting experience with a choral and/or instrumental ensemble.