Monday, October 06, 2014

DovBear's Helpful Tips for High Holiday Cantors

DovBear's Helpful Tips for High Holiday Cantors

1 - Keep it moving. We want to sing, we want to pray, we want to finish on time. We're not there for a concert. You can show off at Kol Nidrei and a few other moments, but that's it.
2 - If the tune is overly familiar don't use it, unless its your synagogue's official, expected melody for a particular part of the service.
3 - If the tune has any secular connotation don't use it.
4 - Err on the side of tradition. Use a traditional tune, before some bouncy shiny shoe thing. We do not want to sing timeless poetry to the Jewish equivalent of a top 40 hit.
5 -THREE things remove the evil decree. Not two. Be sure to say uTeshuva, uTefilah, uTzedaka, not u'teshuva, utefillahutzedaka.
6 - Hebrew words, generally, are accented on the last syllable. Please get this right. Please. When you mispronounce every single word in Kee Anu Amecha my head fills with thoughts that are not appropriate for Yom Kippur.
7 - Let us answer kaddish. Save the tune for AFTER yehay shmay rabba Related: Let us hear Hayom Tevarchaynu etc so we can say omein!
8 - Eh LO ah slichot, not EloHA slichot.
9 - I don't know why you slap the table to let us know you're done with Hineni. Its not necessary. Either say the blessing in an audible tone or just start kaddish
10 - We don't have to sing every single stitch of Imru Laylokim, or Vchol Maamim or the other long piyutim. Its okay if we just sing the first few and the last few.

Note: This is a compilation of errors noted over several years. I've never met one chazan guilty of all of these things, and the men who led the services I attended this year were quite excellent

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