2018 Prayer Leader Summer Institute: Class Descriptions


Shabbat and Weekday Liturgy 
This course will examine the Shabbat and weekday liturgies using a multifaceted approach, including literary, theological, halakhic and exegetical aspects. While using the Koren-Jonathan Sacks siddur as our basic text, we will consider other sources, including the rabbinic corpus, in order to more fully understand the content and context of the Shabbat and weekday liturgies. 

Shabbat and Weekday Nusach 
This course provides students with the skills necessary to lead daily and Sabbath services. Students learn musical modes for Ashkenazic prayer chant and analyze their structural elements, and the specific motivic content for leading services within the Ashkenazic tradition. In practicum sessions, emphasis is on modal and motivic improvisation within the established framework of Nusach Ashkenaz.  Students also learn appropriate congregational melodies for the daily and Sabbath services. 

Accompanied Repertoire for Shabbat 
Students learn cantorial and congregational repertoire for Sabbath services that involves instrumental accompaniment, primarily keyboard and guitar.

Pedagogy of Music: Teaching Music

This class will explore the methodology and practice of teaching music to children from infants through elementary school. Students will acquire a basic understanding of DAP (developmentally appropriate practice) and how it applies to teaching children’s music classes in Early Childhood and Religious School music classes, and leading Tot Shabbat and Religious School worship services. In addition to examining contemporary educational theories, we will review a repertoire of developmentally appropriate songs to use when teaching music to children.

Nigun and Klezmer

Monday and Tuesday -- Hassidic Nigunim - The First 250 Years
The Hassidic Nigun is one of Jewish culture's most unique and widely recognized musical forms.  We will explore the evolution of the nign from the time of its inception to the present day through singing and discussion. 

Monday afternoon
An Introduction to Hassidic Music (1-3 pm)        
Musical Dynasties, part 1: Nigunim of the Lubavitcher, Bobover, and Meron Hassidim (3:30-5pm)   
Tuesday morning 
Musical Dynasties, part 2:Nigunim of the Modzhitz , Bostoner, and Breslover Hasidim; Nigunim of the Hollender family:  How melodies can bring a family that perished in the Holocaust back to life. 
Tuesday afternoon
Nigunim of Carlebach and the Jewish Renewal movement; Hassidic Music of Today 

Thursday and Friday -- The Klezmer Tradition: Roots and Revival
Of the past forty years, the Klezmer Tradition has become a cornerstone of Jewish musical identity. We will trace the history of "klezmer music" from its medieval origins through its golden age in Eastern Europe, its American incarnation, and the still burgeoning international klezmer revival/resurgence. Instrumentalists are welcome to take on performance projects that they will perform on the second day. 

Thursday morning
The Klezmer Tradition in Eastern Europe
Thursday afternoon
The Klezmer Tradition in the U.S., 1880 - 1970
Friday morning
The International Klezmer Revival/Resurgence; Master Class on performance projects

Communication and Presentation Practicum
This class focuses on building the skills necessary to communicate in public forums: concerts, public prayer, cantillation, sermon delivery. Elements of effective communication that are addressed include the use of breath, the basics of healthy vocal technique, the exploration of physical and gestural language, the expression of text and the development of personal presence. Through the use of group exercises, discussion, video-recording, individual practice and coaching, students learn to integrate these skills into their actual work and concert requirements. Students’ own selections from pulpits and classes provide vehicles for their work with the group and the instructor.

Class size is limited; non-Hebrew College students may only register with permission of the instructor.

Choral Conducting 
The methods and materials for conducting the synagogue choir and the secular Jewish chorale are investigated through presentations by the instructor and student projects. Topics include repertoire, programming, conducting gestures, score preparation, rehearsal techniques and auditions. 

Class size is limited,
and background in music is required; non-Hebrew College students may only
register with permission of the instructor.

Contemporary Models with Shefa Gold
This class will include the following four topics over two days:

Chant as Personal Practice -- Monday morning
Healing the Spirit, Transforming the Mind, Deepening Love
By cultivating a personal practice of chant, we are receiving the holy texts that we have inherited by making them wholly our own. We will learn and explore the power and magic of the sacred phrase as a tool of healing and transformation. In these experiential classes we’ll discover what makes a chant different than a song, by exploring the power of intention, repetition, focus, awareness of states, and the silence that follows a chant. We’ll learn to use chant to build the Mishkan of heart, body, relationship, community and world, so that God’s Presence can be invited into our lives. We’ll study the process of cultivating a middah through the embodiment of a sacred phrase while meeting our obstacles and resistances with compassion and wisdom. Together we will work at becoming whole-hearted before God through deep devotional practice, so that when it is time to serve, our service will be the overflow of our own evolving and vital chant practice.
Building the Holy Place -- Monday afternoon, both sessions
As we cultivate connection between us in spiritual community, we must also do the work of creating holy connection inside our hearts. It is that inner work which will form the foundation for our work in community. In this experiential workshop we will study the model of the Mishkan in the Book of Exodus as the key to our liberation, as we build a place for God to dwell within us, between us and among us. 
Cultivating Spiritual Maturity -- Tuesday morning
In the building of conscious community, each of us is sent to our own spiritual work of becoming whole, connecting ourselves to a Larger Reality, healing the source of our reactivity and opening to blessing. And we can support each other in this work. 
We step onto the path of spiritual maturity when we stop blaming anyone (including ourselves) and instead learn to call on the inner Divine resources that have been planted within us, and begin sharing that flow of abundance in collaboration with the whole wide world.
In this workshop we will open to that flow, and also rise meet the obstacles and resistances that can show us the path of true healing towards wholeness and connection.
The Elulian Mysteries -- Tuesday afternoon, both sessions
The Babylonian name of the month has been thought of as an acronym for Ani L’Dodi v’DodiLi I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine… from Shir Hashirim. As we prepare ourselves for the High Holy Days we spend the month of Elul repairing the very foundation of our connection to the Great Mystery.
On Tisha B’Av we experience a necessary shattering of that relationship and then spend the next 7 weeks returning, re-creating ourselves, and finally re-encountering that Mystery during the High Holy Days.
What is the journey from devastation to renewal?
We are guided and inspired through this journey by 7 amazing texts- the Haftorot of Consolation, readings from Isaiah that show us the pathway from desolation to comfort, from utter destruction to dazzling hope.

Contemporary Models with Noah Aronson 
This class will include the following six sessions over two days:

Music Theory for Prayer Leaders – Wednesday, 9:30 - 12
Have you ever wondered how some people can just start playing a song without having learned how to play it? Some people call it 'playing by ear' but I call it having a firm grasp of how to employ the rules of music theory. In this intensive I will break down the key elements of music theory into a usable, workable language, and will leave out all the stuff you don't need! 

As a songleader or music teacher you just don't need to know how to analyze a Bach Chorale or how to sight read a Beethoven symphony. But understanding how scales and chords work can give you the tools to figure out how to play virtually every song you'll encounter in songleading context! 

Come to this intensive if music theory has always been an enigma to you and you'd like to gain a useful knowledge that will be infinitely useful to you as a music teacher or songleader. 

Religious School Tefilah: Crafting Prayer for Kids, Tweens and Teens – Wednesday, 1-3
The age old question when planning religious school tefilah is always, ‘Are we actually praying or are we just teaching about prayer?’ As educators we go back and forth and of course the answer is always ‘a little bit of both.’ During this intensive we will focus on the art of crafting meaningful moments during religious school tefilah. Should the goal be to simply prepare students for their b’nei mizvah, or can we start to think more broadly, allowing each student the space to develop a personal relationship with prayer and with God, and to teach a respect for the importance of gathering together as a Jewish community? 

Music of Hallel – Wednesday, 3:30 - 5
The Hallel service has within it a treasure trove of musical gems from various Psalms of praise. Hallel is typically sung on holidays and on Rosh Chodesh (the new month) but it's songs can be extracted and used in countless other settings. Come to this elective if you're interested in learning lots of great Hebrew songs that may be unfamiliar to one who may not have grown up in a traditional prayer community. The goal of this workshop will be breadth not depth, so we will sing through as many melodies as time will allow! 
Be sure to bring your recorders, as sheet music may not be provided for all the melodies we will be singing.

Jewish Composition – Thursday, 9:30 - 12
To some, composing music comes as naturally as breathing, and to others composition seems like an amazing magic trick! Spend some time with Noah Aronson, who holds a degree in Jazz Composition from Berklee College of Music, deconstructing the myths of music composition. This course is designed for those who are interested in learning how to write their own Jewish liturgical music and will provide practical tools to those interested in setting out on this wonderfully creative path. 

The Art of Crafting a Service in a Liberal/Progressive Community – Thursday, 1-3
How do we turn our services from a setlist of greatest hits into meaningful worship?  Too often we fall into the trap of thinking of our services as one song after another, but there is an art to crafting a service flow.  This course will help break down the moments in between the music that serve as the glue for our worship menus.  It's when these moments are fine tuned when the art of crafting a service truly comes alive.  

Shabbat Table Songs – Thursday, 3:30 - 5
A gaggle of Shabbat zmirot both new and old. Learn new zmiros and share the ones you already know with others. 
Bring your recorders. 

Workshop on Jewish Drumming and Spirituality with Mitch Gordon

The drum is my Torah. The heartbeat is my connection to the Divine and to all of those around me. If you Daven from the Drum as I do, or you want to explore the drum, then this 3 day/9 hour/intensive course is suited to you. Over the span of three days we will Daven together, drum together, lead and follow each other’s lead, and connect to the heart of Sacred Drumming through our individual and collective heartbeats. Djembe and/or doumbek will be the focal point of our instruments, and we will explore a range of frame drums, cajon, klong yaw, and miscellaneous ‘toys’ for atmosphere.

We will work on reading music (although music reading experience is not necessary) and intuiting music. We will work on understanding the fundamentals of davening (davenology as Reb Zalman put it) and the role of a drummer in services, drum circle, fire circle, chanting, music, and ensemble. While we will explore technique, this is also a seminar of the heart, the soul and the breath of drumming and of ourselves in sacred spaces. We will explore depths within ourselves and find ways to reach out to others and to listen in the midst of our rhythmic explorations. We will learn to lift, to fall, to hold space… and most importantly we will learn when not to play…

The core of Sacred Drumming is basking in the silences, listening with our hearts and bringing out the spirit of the drum and talking with our hands. Let’s come together and find the Prayer in Percussion.

This course is open to both experienced drummers and those with little or no drumming experience.  It is helpful to have a range of skill sets in the class, as we will meet you where you are. If you have a favorite drum (djembe or doumbek) we encourage you to bring it. If you do not have a drum there will be drums available to use for the sessions.


Marcia Spellman
Recruitment and Enrollment Manager