In the Orthodox church in the west how does one go about learning the chant and becoming a choir director etc. In the Catholic Church one gets a Sacred Music degree, but it would seem that degrees in Orthodox Sacred Music are few and far between?
There are a number of factors involved, such as jurisdiction, style of music, and goal (becoming a Cantor and becoming a Choir Director are two different things, and conducting a harmonized choir versus a Byzantine-style choir are most definitely different challenges). There are degrees in Orthodox Sacred Music, but they are usually offered at Orthodox Universities (i.e. overseas). For most parishes here, a demonstrated interest and aptitude will get you the job; and many are willing to teach (even if they aren't really qualified to do so). I know Archbishop DEMETRIOS was pushing for a degree in Byzantine Music from Hellenic College/Holy Cross, but I don't know how feasible that is. However, one can study in a formal setting from professors at SVS, STS, HCHC, etc. if one wants to. Depending on your locale and what you're looking for, there are also well trained cantors/directors in different cities who train students on a part-time basis.