I am a dedicated teacher, but I don’t know how to read music. How can I possibly teach this curriculum?
Can you sing “Happy Birthday” and “Immaculate Mary”? Do you sometimes sing songs in class just for fun? If the answer to these questions is yes, then you are perfectly suited to teach this program to your students. Reading square notes is easy…far easier than reading standard musical notation. You will be given all the tools you need to unlock the system of notation in the Words With Wings workshop. All you have to do, literally, is stay a lesson or two ahead of the kids. Don’t forget, you have twenty weeks before you have to teach lesson twenty. And other teachers around you can help.
But shouldn’t this program be taught by the parish music director?
We’ll answer this one with a few questions. Are children in our parishes learning much about music at all? Moreover, is it the role of the Church to give children music lessons in general? No. The real questions to ask here is: are children in our parishes learning about the relationship between the faith and the Church’s liturgy? If the faithful are supposed to sing the Mass, then they must be taught that music and the Word are inseparable in a liturgical context.
We get the kids together to sing at Christmas. We don’t have time for music during the year.
It doesn’t do much good to teach children (whether you are the music director or a CCD volunteer) a slew of Christmas carols once a year. These songs are rarely Catholic in origin, and do little to underscore the catechetical lessons they have been offered in the classroom. It is better to teach the kids to understand the ancient relationship between their faith and the sung Word. Words with Wings does just this…within the context of their regular classrooms. It builds a bridge between education programs and the liturgical life of a parish…at last. And the lessons take only fifteen minutes per week.
I learn best by listening. After the workshop, will I be able to find recordings of all the tracks in the books?
Yes, practice tracks are available here. You can listen to them online or download them on to a CD. These downloads are free, and designed specifically to help you achieve success in your classroom.
I teach the high school kids. Isn’t this program too simple for them?
Not at all. Everyone needs to start somewhere. This program is recommended for all age groups – so long as the children can read. It is ideally suited for a First Communion age group. It would work just as well with fourth graders. It can provide critical lessons for junior high kids. High schoolers and College-age individuals aren’t too old to learn, either. Why not start off a youth group meeting with a fifteen-minute lesson that will impact their perception of the liturgy?
Is it reasonable to think that after one year, students of this curriculum will be able to read and sing from square notes well enough to join or form a schola?
Absolutely. In fact, if your music director or pastor would like to form a schola in your parish, the Words With Wings curriculum can give any group a jump start. It can even help a music director brush up on his or her own reading skills!
I’ve taught all twenty lessons. Where do we go from here?
The children now have all the skills necessary to read music and sing the Mass. And you yourself can teach it! If you want to keep singing in the vernacular, follow up with the Missal chants, the Parish Book of Psalms, and the Simple English Propers. You can also continue with some simple Latin responses, a simple Latin ordinary, or even the Gregorian propers. The most important thing to remember now is: the children can read it and sing it. So can you.