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 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 begin the certificate process. Requirements are based on the cantor’s basic function as outlined in the liturgical documents General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) and Sing to the Lord (STL). The BCC certificate is designed to encourage cantors at all levels to assess and affirm existing skills and identify areas for growth.

It is our hope that your interest in earning skill certificates leads you through a spiritual journey, advancing your cantor skills to serve your worshiping community by becoming a more confident and competent leader of prayer.  For additional information, 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, as well as questions from the Sing to the Lord
  • A vocal adjudication includes singing of two Psalms (chant and melodic), a Kyrie with invocations from the published setting, and a setting of the Lamb of God
  • Pitch-matching exercises with 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 and you will be contacted by the administrator with your results, including the feedback from adjudicators.

We hope you are inspired to accomplish the requirements of the BCC, so please apply!
Once you apply, the NPM National Office will acknowledge receipt of your application and you will hear from an administrator to provide specific instructions on how to proceed.

Your preparation process should include:

  • Choosing repertoire, an accompanist, and proctor.
  • Locate a digital camera, phone or other device for the taping/recording 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 your application. Sing through a few options before making your choice from Service Music, remembering that you 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 chooses to do so, the cantor and the proctor should inform the BCC administrator of the plan so that the adjudicators may 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 recording occurs without interruption (no stopping and starting) 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, and 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/phone with good sound quality, which can also be digitally uploaded. All 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 sung material must be recorded without stopping and no editing may occur. Don’t forget to record the pitch-matching exercises, three sets of intervals found on the written 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 requires 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 recording is graded.

Assessment Team
The adjudicators are current and former members of the Standing Committee for Cantors and other nationally and regionally-known cantors and will provided written feedback to each candidate.

Group for Recording
It is recommended that the candidate assemble a small quorum of people to act as a ‘congregation’ for the recording. One suggestion is to invite the choir assemble prior to rehearsal for your recording session. This will help you to feel more comfortable and facilitate a better sense of your communication skills. If several cantors from your parish want to apply and make recordings for the Basic Cantor Certificate,  coordinate accompanists, video recorders and proctors on a specific date (or two) and the cantors can serve as the congregation for each other. Diocesan directors might also encourage cantors by coordinating available recording days.

Self-Assessment Tips to Help You Prepare (PDF)
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.


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.


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Register today for the 47th Annual NPM National Convention (Kansas City, Missouri, July 8-11, 2024). Prices increase 4/3- don’t delay!