My dream and professional mission in life is to help create a more musically joyous and spiritually compelling world for American Jews.—Joey Weisenberg
Having come to cherish the imperfectly beautiful music of normal people singing together, Joey now hopes to empower communities around the world to create their own music.
Joey has set out to remind people and communities of their own musical potential, and to show that music teaches us not only about sound, but about the very underpinnings of spiritual existence as music “tunes us in” to the broader energies in the world around us. Based on his experience with nigunim (wordless melodies), nusach (prayer chant), klezmer music, and other Jewish musical styles, Joey teaches focused sessions that demonstrate the melodies, rhythms and styles that have made Jewish music exciting and accessible for many generations.
Using ideas from his recently released book Building Singing Communities, Joey discusses strategies for bringing people together to make music a lasting and joy-filled force in shul and Jewish life.
Photos by Chris Geller, Emil Cohen
Joey’s communal teaching focuses on:
- Tradition and Creation: Absorbing the sounds, styles, attitudes, and melodies of older generations while opening up to creating music in the present moment.
- Architecture of Singing: Setting up the room for success.
- Communal Intimacy: Bringing people closer together physically to create a sense of connection and shared experience.
- A Finite Melody: Learning one melody, really well.
- Rhythm: Explore the possibility that we can unify in time.
- Communal Intention: Showing what can happen when we come together on purpose to create something bigger than the sum of its parts.
“Joey Weisenberg is one of the greatest of the young Jewish musicians and teachers coming onto the scene today. He and his music are full of skill, sincerity, and passion. As a student of mine, he quickly learned the modulating modes and improvisational constructions of Cantorial music, and most importantly, how that music brings out the character of prayer. In Building Singing Communities, he thoughtfully presents innovations for the shul that reflect his experiences and experiments in the field of Jewish music. Joey’s work will appeal to people from across the Jewish spectrum, and I eagerly await seeing what develops from these promising ideas. ”
– Cantor Noach Schall
Author The Hazzanic Thesaurus and master teacher of Cantorial Music for over 60 years.
“Joey’s unique vision for building inclusive, participatory singing communities is a much needed contribution to modern prayer groups, regardless of age, size, or affiliation. Having sung – and lead – in his High Holiday services for the past 3 years, I can attest both to Joey’s innovations and insights in davenning experiences, as well as to his incredible talent and breadth of musical knowledge. Above all, Joey strives to build relationships through shared musical experiences, and with the practical tips and colorful analogies in this book, he makes it easy for you to embark on your own journey as a leader of prayer and song.”
– Aaron Bisman
Co-founder & President, JDUB
“More than any other art form music has urged a new creative vista for Jewish expression and practice in our era. By fusing theory, pedagogy, and deep knowledge and feel for music, Joey offers a precious map for those of us who believe that a community must be able to translate its sacred traditions and texts through art in order to know where it needs to go.”
– Stephen Hazan Arnoff, Executive Director of the 14th Street Y
Founder of LABA: The National Laboratory for New Jewish Culture