The Basic Cantor Certificate (BCC) will be offered
to a limited number of participants on site at the Annual Convention. Or if you are interested in having a local on site adjudication, contact us.

The Basic Cantor Certificate identifies the cantor’s primary functions as leader of prayer, psalmist, and teacher, and assesses several fundamental skills necessary to serve in a Sunday liturgy. The BCC is appropriate for any cantor serving in a Roman Catholic parish who wishes to enter the process toward certification. Requirements are based on the cantor’s basic function as outlined in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) and Sing to the Lord (STL), the liturgical documents. The certificate is designed to encourage cantors at all levels to assess and affirm existing skills and identify places to grow.

It is our hope that your interest in earning certification leads you through a spiritual journey to advance your cantor skills in becoming a more confident and competent leader of prayer to serve your worshipping communities.  Please contact Rosemarie Gondek at


The BCC Exam consists of three parts

  • A written section which includes questions regarding the liturgy and basic musical knowledge
  • A vocal adjudication includes singing of two Psalms (chant and melodic), a Kyrie with invocations from the setting, and Lamb of God
  • An Ear training exercises are three sets of intervals that the candidate will sing back accurately (and must also be part of the recording)

Two adjudicators will then review the uploaded recorded video.

So, if this is something you are inspired to accomplish, please apply!
The NPM National Office will acknowledge receipt of your application.
Next, you will hear from an administrator to provide specific instructions on how to proceed.

The Preparation Process includes:

  • Choosing repertoire, an accompanist, and proctor.
  • Locate a digital camera for the taping of your exam.
  • Review Self-Assessment Tips (PDF)

Please choose repertoire with which you are very familiar. Your comfort level will allow you to make the best presentation. If the listed repertoire is not familiar to you, give yourself plenty of time to prepare before making application. Sing through a few options before making your choice from Service Music; the candidate must sing and lead two responsorial psalms—one setting chosen from List A  (Chant) and one chosen from List B (Through-composed), a setting of the Kyrie, and a setting of the Lamb of God

We do not encourage the practice of transposing the music, however, if a cantor choses to do so, the cantor and the proctor should inform the BCC administrator of the plan so that the adjudicators can be informed of the change.

Ask someone to play for your taping that you work with regularly so that you will be very comfortable. Be sure to discuss tempos and introductions. Make time for practice before the taping.

The function of the proctor is to witness that the taping occurs without stopping and to administer the exam. The proctor will sign an affidavit stating this. The proctor has no function in the adjudication of the exam and must be a member of NPM, ideally a DMMD member. The accompanist and the proctor may be the same person.

It is not necessary to hire a professional videographer to record the exam. For your best results, we recommend a video camera with good sound quality, which can be digitally uploaded.
All of the sung material must be recorded without stopping and no editing may occur. Be sure that the camera is focused on the cantor so that the adjudicators can see both face and gesture. All of the sung material must be recorded without stopping and no editing may occur. Don't forget to record the ear training, set of three intervals portion of the exam.

Plan early
It takes time to practice and prepare for the exam. Additionally, it can be tricky to coordinate the schedules of your church, accompanist, congregation and proctor. Make sure you are realistic about how much time the whole process will take to avoid frustration.

The NPM administrator is your main contact from that point on and will coordinate all efforts on your part. Direct all questions and concerns to such administrator. Please note that you will be informed if the administrator changes between the time you make application and the time your tape is graded.

Assessment Team
The assessment team, made up of members of the Standing Committee for Cantors and leading cantors from across the country, will assist in this process by providing written feedback to each candidate.

Group for Taping 
It is recommended that the candidate assemble a small quorum of people to act as a kind of congregation for the taping. One suggestion is to have the choir assemble prior to their rehearsal so this can be completed. This will add to comfort of the candidate and facilitate a better sense of your communication skills. If several cantors from a particular parish want to apply and make recordings for the Basic Cantor Certificate, it is easier to plan one or two days for everyone to make the recordings. This makes it easier to coordinate accompanists, video recorders and proctors and the cantors can serve as the congregation for each other. Diocesan directors could also encourage cantors by making taping days available.

  Self-Assessment Tips to Help You Prepare(pdf file)
These tips are designed to help you assess your skills as you prepare for the Basic Cantor Certificate. We encourage you to seek outside assistance to help you assess.

FAQs (pdf file)

You may click here to view and print the brochure and application form for the Basic Cantor Certificate, or you may send an e-mail or call 240-247-3000 to request a printed copy.