Ward Method

Ward method. Initially a liturgical movement as well as a music-training system. It was developed by Justine Ward (USA 1880-1975) to accommodate the directives of Pius X's Motu proprio (1903) for the renewal of sacred song.
Ward method. Initially a liturgical movement as well as a music-training system. It was developed by Justine Ward (USA 1880-1975) to accommodate the directives of Pius X's Motu proprio (1903) for the renewal of sacred song.


Initially a liturgical movement as well as a music-training system. It was developed by Justine Ward (USA 1880-1975) to accommodate the directives of Pius X's Motu proprio (1903) for the renewal of sacred song. Working mainly with children, the Ward method's aim was to produce singers specialized and experienced in the approved repertoire and tradition. In addition to voice training, the method stresses such special skills as reading in all clefs and in all keys; figured bass before staff notation; the use of Gregorian modes and polyphony as the melodic materials for solfège; and training in rhythm founded on gesture ('chironomy') and bodily movement. The founder's pedagogy was enriched by the collaboration of Thomas Shields of the University of Washington and Dom Mocquereau of the Benedictine abbey at Solesmes, France.

The Ward method was introduced to central Canada in 1954 by a French Dominican nun, Sister Alix de Vaulchier (b Le Deschaux, France, 19 Mar 1897), who had been sent by the director of the Institut grégorien in Paris. She travelled in all parts of Quebec giving courses to teachers and visiting classrooms in which the method was being taught. At the Congrès international de musique sacrée in Paris in 1957, a map displayed the method's dissemination not only in the Montreal area but also elsewhere in Quebec and in Ontario. Justine Ward's concept was demonstrated at the liturgical ceremonies in 1957, 1958, and 1959 which brought together some 500 Quebec children at Cap-de-la-Madeleine. The recording La Voix des plus petits, with Vaulchier conducting, was produced in 1958 (Radio-Marie NDC-455-902). Between 1959 and 1965, only Laval University, which was affiliated with the Ward Institute in Paris, could grant Ward diplomas. Nevertheless, the University of Montreal continued teaching the method until 1963. After that time Sister Alix de Vaulchier gave her course a new orientation, and while it preserved certain elements of the Ward method, it adopted a new name, 'Pedagogy for class teaching of music,' and was offered solely at the University of Montreal. The reform in liturgy which followed Vatican Council II gave rise to various interpretations, with the result that the Ward method ceased to be applied ca 1966-7.

The Ward method has been expounded in books published 1934-62 in Washington, DC (Catholic Education Press), and in Tournai, Belgium (Desclée). The main Washington publications are the volumes Music and Music Teacher's Guide (vols 1, 2, 3), Gregorian Chant (1949, translated into French and published by Desclée in 1951), and seven volumes for children with corresponding teachers' guides. Among the books illustrated by Frances Delehanty and published by Desclée are Musique pour les classes élémentaires (1934-41; grades 1 to 4) for use by teachers, Chants et chansons (1949-53) for children, and La Méthode Ward (Paris 1962, 1967) for use by teachers, illustrated by Denise Donvez and accompanied by a collection of songs for children.


Further Reading

  • Monique-d'Ostie, Sister [Mamie Martel]. 'La méthode ''Ward'',' L MUS thesis, University of Montreal 1959