Sunday, July 8, 2012

Attention Pastors: The Best Idea on Catholic Music in Fifty Years

You will be hearing much more about this in the months and years ahead, but I wanted to just give a preliminary report here. A new idea (actually an old idea) has emerged that could make it possible for chant and true liturgical music to finally make a peaceful appearance in parish life.

There are several parts to this news.

First, there is the publication of a great book for beginning children's chant. The book is called Words with Wings, by the famed Dutch chant master Wilko Brouwers and its English translation by Arlene Oost-Zinner. There is both an instructor edition and a workbook edition. Both are affordable. They provide a thorough grounding in singing and liturgical music in twenty lessons, complete with audio support materials.These books made their debut at the Colloquium and sold out completely by the first day.

Second, while this book is excellent for musicians, and also for an already-formed children's choir, this approach is also suitable for a sector of parish life that has been largely neglected in its musical aspect during the last half century: the educational programs of the parish. This is where the music once made its first appearance in the parish. It was here that children were taught to sing and they were taught by the CCD teachers as a way of providing both a liturgical and musical foundation for the parish. The choirs were later formed out of these experiences. This book enables this pathway to come alive again.

Third, a program that actually teaches the teachers, based on Words with Wings, has also been launched. This workshop comes to your parish and trains the teachers to use the book and start a music program for kids, as part of the catechetical program of the parish. The website is WingsWorkshop.org. If you want to book a workshop for teachers and get this program going, now might be the time to do it. Can you imagine what singing children -- really singing the music of the Church -- will do for parish culture starting this Fall?

I'm excited about this for many reasons: the books, the new approach to improving music, and the workshop that actually implements the program. It's creative, progressive, and has a excellent chance of taking us to the next level and building a foundation for the future.