The following questions and answers are generally regarding ByzB 101.
Why Byzantine notation?
I have been singing from Western Notation for many years. Why should I learn Byzantine Notation?
The main reason to learn to read Byzantine notation instead of just chanting hymns using western notation is that Byzantine notation communicates more clearly than western notation how to chant the hymns. This may be analogous to learning to speak and write in a new language.
Think of Byzantine chant as a language and Byzantine notation as its written form. Each spoken language has particular sounds, inflections, and grammar rules. The written form of the language is designed to communicate all of these clearly and directly. Imagine, for example, that you were learning to speak Spanish and you wanted to ask, “Where is the bathroom?”
After hearing the phrase spoken you could write it down using English style writing. Will you write, “Down-day est-ah eyl ban-yo?” or will you write, “Done-deh est-uh ehl bahn-yow?” If you learned the rules of the Spanish alphabet and inflections of writing, you could read the standard “¿Dónde está el baño?” Your pronunciation would be much better, and you would also have the entire world of written Spanish opened up to you.
In the same way, Byzantine notation communicates how to chant more clearly than western notation can hope to. For a detailed description of the differences between western notation and byzantine notation, read the St. Anthony Monastery's Essay.
Students who have taken the class will say that learning to read Byzantine notation is also just plain fun!
How much work is this class (BYZB 101)?
How much time should I expect to spend on the coursework?
Most students say they spend 45 minutes to an hour of active work on this class several days per week. Much of this work can stack into other parts of your life. For example, you may listen to Playing with Parallage lessons in your daily walk, you may watch video lessons while you wash dishes, or you may play the card games with your children after dinner. In addition to the active work, there is also a passive listening component to the course. Daily listening to the recordings of the repertoire is great background music for your daily activities.
do I need a musical background (for byzb 101)?
I don't have any musical background. Is this course for me?
Students with little musical background have been successful in this course. There are two main skills you will learn in this course. One is training your ear to the sounds of the scales in hiermologic Modes One and Two music. This will be easier for you if you have a good sense of pitch, but you will still make progress in this even if your sense of pitch to start is weak. The second skill is perhaps more academic - learning to read all the symbols of Byzantine notation. If you already can read a mathematical language (Western notation of music) your practice at decoding symbols may help you pick up the skill of decoding Byzantine notation. Yet, this course for teens and adults grew out of an effort to teach Byzantine Chant to children (with no musical background), so it is designed to be accessible to all.
If you are already a strong musician, you should find that helpful in progressing quickly through some parts of the course, but if you are not a strong musician, take heart! A strong desire to learn does well in Byzantine Beginnings!
Home school students
I am a home school student. Is this course for me?
Home school students are encouraged to take these courses. Please sign up for the home school section that meets on Tuesdays at 1 pm.
I am a teacher of Byzantine Chant. How can I use your curriculum?
You may purchase the materials and play the games with your students. If you are interested in teaching the course (ByzB 101) please contact Amy Hogg directly to see what training is required to teach using the Byzantine Beginnings curriculum.
Where do the classes meet? The default option is that you sign up for a class that meets only online. Each student does lots of learning outside of class on their own time, then meets weekly with their class by signing into Zoom, a video conference, from their own computer.
How often do the classes meet? The class meets weekly. Every other week the teacher will be there to introduce material, answer questions, and lead practice games. Every other week the students will meet without the teacher to work through exercises and practice skills.
What if I want to be in a class with my friends? There are a couple of options. The first is to sign up for the same class section (same day & time). Then you can be meeting online with your friends...Or you could choose to meet in person with your classmates, yet online with your teacher (use one computer to sign into Zoom together). On the off weeks, you could skip the computer and just be together in person. This is the ideal option. It's more fun to play the games with friends! One more option would be to sign up for different class times (whichever is best for each of you), but then meet in person at another time each week or two to practice and play games together.
Tell your teacher if you plan to take the class with people you know, and we will make a plan for what will work best for you.