Catholic Activity: Elementary Parent Pedagogy: Singing and Music
Music is one of the greatest teaching tools. It also helps unite the family together. This pedagogy topic deals with how to implement more music in the home, including religious.
On the subject of music and singing we shall say a little with special emphasis. Family singing is a thrilling experience to children. Psychologists today talk much about the value of community singing. Schools and colleges have glee clubs and the large cities have choral societies. Singing in a crowd produces friendliness and makes a bond of union among people. Leaders who get crowds together for a song festival certainly help to produce good feeling. Why then should not the family make use of this age-old custom and strengthen the bonds that unite them?
God gave us singing voices, and certainly children love to sing. In school songs and hymns are taught. Encourage the children to sing them at home too. Make it a rule to sing all you can with them. The tunes learned in childhood will never be forgotten.
We have mentioned this year, The Three Kings, The Magnificat, Stabat Mater, and several other hymns. We hope the parents are trying to enter into the custom of family hymn singing, which can be developed into a habit which young and old will love.
We trust that the popular song sheets do not make up the repertory of any Catholic families. Let us realize that the emotion aroused by a song has its effect on the child's character. The popular song sheets, set to catchy dance music, are many of them full of pagan ideas of love. "Love" in these songs means "petting"; and the poor child singing such things naturally thinks that love means what the song says. A high Christian notion of love, a great Christian virtue, is distorted, or lost, or never learned.
The Pope wants us to sing in church the beautiful things of the Catholic liturgy. In the Middle Ages when the superb cathedrals were built in Europe, a very fine type of music was written and chanted. It is called Gregorian music. There is something uplifting about its tones. To go to church where such music is heard is a great privilege. We come away strengthened for our day's work.
Indeed in many cities there are schools where teachers are trained to teach this music to the children. In New York there is the Pius X School of Liturgical Music [Editor's Note: This is no longer in operation.] from which hundreds of teachers have gone out all over the country. The greatest music critics in the world approve of this kind of singing and if our children have the chance of learning it, by all means let us encourage them. The point is that if we help them to love good songs and uplifting church music, we train their musical taste so that they will feel disgust for the pagan, immoral songs so popular in our time.
Activity Source: Religion in the Home: Monthly Aids for the Parents of Elementary School Children by Katherine Delmonica Byles, Paulist Press, 1938