The Congregational Cantor
In the American synagogue, the cantor is the minister of music in the congregation. He or she leads the community in prayer, prepares students for bar and bat mitzvah, teaches the texts of the liturgy to adults and children, and shares pastoral duties with the rabbi.
As an imaginative musician, the hazzan strives to raise the level of musical consciousness and understanding within the congregation and the community. Among other tasks, the cantor is involved in creating new compositions, leading choirs, and organizing and performing in religious and secular concerts.
The opportunities for a spiritually rewarding life are immense, and positions for graduate cantors are available throughout North America.
Men and women who are college graduates, members of the Jewish faith, and adherents of Jewish ritual observances—including the Sabbath and holy days, daily prayer, and dietary laws—are eligible to apply for admission.
Applicants should have a basic knowledge of Hebrew, Bible, Jewish history, the prayer book, and customs of the synagogue.
Applicants must have pleasing voices and should be acquainted with the rudiments of music, such as ear-training, sight-singing, and the piano keyboard. Performance experience is also helpful.
Candidates who have not reached the required level of religious commitment, Judaic knowledge, or musical experience should make inquires to the director concerning preparatory training.
Cantorial students are candidates for the diploma of hazzan as well as the master of Sacred Music degree. The course requires five years of full-time study. In addition to the course work, students must prepare a master's essay or project and present a concert of general and liturgical music as part of the graduation requirements.
With the permission of the deans of the schools involved, cantorial students may prepare concurrently for an MA in Education at the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education or an MA at The Graduate School.
Study Year in Israel
Students spend up to one academic year in Israel. Study opportunities include the Conservative Yeshiva, Kesher Hadash and Hebrew Union College. During this time, students strengthen their Hebrew-language skills, study Jewish texts, prayer chant (nusah) and cantillation, and immerse themselves in contemporary Israeli life and culture.
H. L. Miller Cantorial School offers courses in three major areas of study: general music, Jewish music, and Judaica texts. The curriculum includes:
- Nusah: The traditional music of Jewish prayer. Classes in theory and performance as well as individual coaching in techniques and improvisation
- Cantillation: Tropes for the liturgical chanting of biblical books
- Sight-singing, ear-training, harmony, composition, guitar, and piano
- Liturgy: History and content of the prayer book
- Hebrew language
- Jewish education
- Jewish thought
- History of Jewish music
- Jewish art-song repertoire
- Choral conducting
- Recital preparation
College of Jewish Music
A limited number of advanced students who are not preparing for the cantorate may be accepted into courses leading to a master's of Sacred Music.
Programs in Jewish music history, Jewish musicology, and composition are offered by the College of Jewish Music.
Sabin Family Music Center
The Sabin Family Music Center is housed in The Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary and contains one of the finest collections of Jewish liturgical music, art songs, and folk music in North America.
With easy access to rare cantorial manuscripts and state-of-the-art recording and transcribing equipment, students are able to utilize modern technology, enabling them to hone their musical skills and acquire information and additional techniques.
Students are exposed to the most highly respected teachers in their respective fields. Our renowned faculty includes:
- Master hazzanim
- Vocal experts
- Bible and Talmud scholars
- Experts in Jewish law and Hebrew language
Our school attracts students from all over the world. Among the men and women enrolled in the school are recent college graduates and others who have pursued a number of endeavors prior to choosing the cantorate. Their common bond is the commitment to promote Jewish spirituality through music and religious living.