Instruments

From the days when the Ark of the Covenant was accompanied in procession by cymbals, harps, lyres, and trumpets, God’s people have, in various periods, used a variety of musical instruments to sing his praise. Each of these instruments has given voice to a wide variety of forms and styles through which Christ’s faithful continue to join their voices... (General Instruction of the Roman Missal)
We we welcome any instrumentalist willing to play at whichever mass fits their schedule, either for a special occasion or as frequently as they wish, on their own instrument or one of ours...

Voice of the Assembly

posted Aug 22, 2015, 5:31 PM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Aug 23, 2015, 12:38 PM ]

The only thing better than singing is more singing. (Ella Fitzgerald, jazz vocalist)
Our most valuable instrument is YOU!

The primary instrument for the liturgy is not the organ, or keyboard or guitar, but the voice of the assembly. A singing assembly is the most beautiful sound the liturgy can make. Frequently
it's an out-of-tune, unpolished sound. But when it resounds authentically, it's the true measure of whether our music is prayer or not. Nothing matches the full sound of an entire congregation joining together to praise God.

So don't worry if singing out "isn't your style" of that your voice might not be good enough. There's an old saying: “If God gave you a good voice, raise it and sing praise with it. And if God gave you a bad voice, raise it even louder and get even!”

Organ

posted Aug 22, 2015, 8:13 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Aug 25, 2015, 3:48 PM ]

All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself. (Johann Sebastian Bach, composer)
Our organ was built when the church was in 1932 by Geo. Kilgen & Son of St. Louis, Opus 4801. Kilgen was a prominent American organ builder at the turn of the century, and by the time ours was built, over four thousand Kilgens had been installed throughout the country, including the chancel and grand gallery organs in St. Patrick's Cathedral.

It has electro-pneumatic action, with 3 manuals, 25 stops and 21 ranks. It plays very well for a Sunday Mass, but due to its age and problems caused by a leaking roof, it's in need of a major restoration. Our first goal will be to replace the retractable staircase leading up to the pipe chamber, which mysteriously disappeared years ago.

For specifications provided by Rollin Smith, organ historian and concert organist, please visit the American Guild of Organists or see the attachment...

Piano

posted Aug 21, 2015, 4:24 PM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Aug 23, 2015, 12:48 PM ]

Life is like a piano. What you get out of it depends on how you play it. (Tom Lehrer, singer-songwriter)
We have a Sohmer 6' Grand Piano with a walnut semi-gloss finish. Model: Scale A. Serial #:52612. Sohmer & Co. was founded in New York in 1872, and became famous for marketing the first baby grand piano. Irving Berlin composed White Christmas, God Bless America and many other songs on a Sohmer piano!

Ours was manufactured in 1922 on the bank of the East River in Astoria, Queens, and was graciously donated to us by Good Shepherd parish in Marine Park. It's tuned and maintained by Floating Piano Factory, a group of skilled piano technicians focused here in Brooklyn.


Steven Vaughan, our Director of Music Ministry, was recently asked to join the Piano Steering Committee of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians.

Guitars

posted Aug 21, 2015, 3:58 PM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Aug 22, 2015, 7:51 PM ]

God is playing my guitar, I am with God when I play. (Link Wray, guitarist, songwriter)
Naturally, each guitarist owns his or her six-string guitar, which include a Yamaha acoustic/electric DJX-12SBL; a Martin DCXME Dreadnought; a 1972 Fender Stratocaster (sunburst with original hardware/case); and a Fender Telecaster Squire. But we also have a ? always at the church available for anyone who wants to play.

We also have a monthly Guitar Jam, when guitarists get together for an hour to swap techniques, fingerings, styles, and pick up some tips by playing with someone else as opposed to playing alone, etc. Anyone that plays is invited, whether you play well or just a beginner who wants to try and come learn something. It doesn't matter whether you want to play a liturgy or not. Popular songs and warm-up and improvisation exercises are explored as well as songs for Mass. The emphasis is simply to encourage better guitar playing in a self-run master class type setting, where you can help each other. For more information, check our 
Guitar Jam page...

Handchimes / Handbells

posted Aug 21, 2015, 9:43 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Sep 11, 2015, 4:49 PM ]

A bell is no bell till you ring it,
A song is no song till you sing it... (Oscar Hammerstein, composer)
We have a Suzuki 25-note, 2-octave set of hand chimes. These lightweight, durable and portable alloy chimes have squared tone chambers which can be handled without gloves. They have a lower, sustained sound than our 25-note, 2-octave set of KidsPlay
® color-coded handbells which we use with our younger ringers.

Our kids handchime and handbell choir is called cuori BELLissimi, and plays semi-regularly at our 11:45 
AM Mass; the Lighting of the Trees & Angels; the 5:00 PM Christmas Eve Mass; and in December goes "carol-ring" throughout the neighborhood. Rehearsals are conveniently scheduled in the Good Shepherd on the same Wednesday afternoons our Faith Formation classes meet, between school hours and those classes. For more information, visit our cuori BELLissimi page...

Electric Keyboard

posted Aug 20, 2015, 4:54 PM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Sep 11, 2015, 5:29 AM ]

A painter paints his pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence. (Leopold Stokowski, conductor)
Like an organ, an electric keyboard's wide variety of sounds enables it to function almost as an entire instrumental ensemble on its own. Patrick plays a ? to accompany the congregation and the choir at the 4:00
PM Mass Sunday Mass we celebrate in the Pakistani language of Urdu.

We also use electric keyboards for our Vacation Bible School each summer, and sometimes at our Stations of the Cross with Taize Chant. The church owns several Casio 
CA-110 Tone Bank  keyboards, and Steven Vaughan, the Director of Music Ministry, offers inexpensive group and private classes on them. A sequential approach to building basic keyboard skills and understanding musical notation lays a strong musical foundation, even if you want to study another instrument. A brochure is below...

Percussion

posted Aug 20, 2015, 10:12 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Jun 8, 2016, 4:53 PM ]

All God’s children have a place in the choir, 
Some sing low, some sing higher. 
Some sing out loud on the telephone wire, 
And some just clap their hands, or paws, Or anything they got. (Irish folk song)
Dr. John Pennington writes in Today’s Liturgy: “The plethora of references to percussion instruments throughout Scripture certainly presents us with the historical precedence for their inclusion in the liturgy and the praise and glory of God.”

So we often use hand percussion in our liturgies, especially conga and 
cajón. The tabla accompanies traditional Pakistani music, and is sometimes played at our Urdu Mass. But we also have a cabasa; castañets; claves; glockenspiels; a güiro; maracas; ocean drums; panderetas (or pleneras); sleigh bells and tambourines. Do you know what all these things are? Come hear us and find out...

Winds, Brass, Strings...

posted Aug 14, 2015, 9:06 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Aug 22, 2015, 7:52 PM ]

In the old law, God was praised both with musical instruments, and human voices. But the church does not use musical instruments to praise God, lest she should seem to judaize... (St. Thomas Aquinas)
Encouraging others to make music is an essential part of our weekly prayer. At Immaculate Heart of Mary Church we believe that all instruments may blend together to glorify God in song. While we usually have trumpet for the Easter Vigil, the last few years we've had orchestral chimes for our Midnight Mass and wind players for Pentecost playing flute, clarinet, oboe and bass clarinet. We've enjoyed a tuba for The Epiphany of the Lord and our Mardi Gras Mass! Our school Masses used to regularly feature saxophone and trombone, and we've been fortunate to host both an entire string orchestra as well as a string quartet! We've also had cello and accordion play with us. So if you are a musician interested in sharing your talent, or know one, please contact Steven Vaughan, the Director of Music Ministry.

Sanctuary Chimes / Bell Tower

posted Aug 14, 2015, 9:06 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Aug 25, 2015, 2:53 PM ]

Prayer pulls the rope below, and the great bell rings above in the ears of God. Some scarcely stir the bell, for they pray so languidly; others give but an occasional pluck at the rope; but he who wins with heaven is the man who grasps the rope boldly and pulls continuously, with all his might. (Charles H. Spurgeon, British Baptist preacher)
When our church was built in the 1930’s, a set of chimes was installed on the back wall of the sanctuary by the J. C. Deagan Company of Chicago, who also supplied the famous 3-note NBC chimes. They were removed a few decades ago, though no one knows
when or why or what happened to them. When the St. Ignatius Jesuit Retreat House called “Inisfada” was sold in 2013, we were able to procure a set of similar chimes from their great front hall, with the only cost being their installation and rewiring of the fragile old electricity. This set was manufactured by the Rowland H. Mayland Company, established in 1866 right here in Brooklyn, who also supplied chimes for New York’s CBS Radio Orchestra. (So you could say we’ve changed our network affiliation!) 

In many churches, sanctuary chimes were replaced with the less expensive altar bells, and may be rung according to the same guidelines. Traditionally, they are rung 
continuously during the Gloria at Midnight Mass to celebrate their first use in the new Liturgical Year, since they are silenced during the season of Advent. 

Our church bell is in a 72-foot-high square tower, located on the right-hand side of the church building. A Verdin Digital Bell Controller is used with the now-stationary bell to program funeral tolls, hour strikes, wedding peals, and call to worship bells.

Sound System

posted Aug 14, 2015, 9:06 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Aug 25, 2015, 3:52 PM ]

Music is the movement of sound to reach the soul... (Plato, philosopher) 
In the spring of 2015, Futronics Lighting and Sound, a company based here in Brooklyn on Columbia Street, replaced our 23-year-old obsolete sound system. Our sanctuary microphones are now connected to a Symetrix Jupiter 12 mixer, while the musician's are connected to this main mixer via a submixer, the Mackie DL806, which provides much needed flexibility to the sound of the various ensembles and is controlled by an iPad. New low profile music microphones, the Earthworks FMR600, strike a key balance between being inconspicuous while still delivering high quality audio, as do the ultra-low profile Astatic Control Microphones mounted on stands above the choir.

Futronics also replaced our speakers with new, Energy Star rated ones. So despite our high ceiling and the reflective surfaces of our floor and pews which make it difficult for people to hear clearly, Iconyx and Innovox Frequency Shaded Line Array speakers enable both effective communication and expressive musical artistry in our church.

1-10 of 10