While we are mostly settled into routines, some of our younger choir participants are delightfully egocentric and thus still learning what it means to be part of the larger choral experience. Some of the behaviours that are occasionally evident are singing in a different key so that one may hear themselves, being overly concerned about the behaviours of others not yet realising that one can only control their own behaviour, and struggling in some of our partner choosing games. None of this is atypical and I suspect that by the end of October this will all get worked out. Given my many years of teaching young musicians, I can say this with the greatest confidence.
Given the above, I am also able to praise much of their collective work. Our second first Friday Mass had most of them, singing not only what we had prepared in advance but also joining in other congregational responses. With another 7 masses left in the year, I know that their confidence and their abilities to participate will allow them to find even greater meaning as they more fully celebrate our masses. This higher concentration work is always balanced with teaching that is child centred, change of pace and lighter concentration activities. We are having fun extending our vocal ranges and already we have so many angelic voices with most feeling confident to sing on their own. Volunteering and participation overall, is greater than I usually expect at this time of the year and they are becoming good little Italians and terms like forte and pianissimo roll off their tongues. They are working hard to make sense of so and mi and ta, ti-ti and one beat of silence. Some still occasionally mix up rhythm and beat but this is coming. Rhythmic ostinati and round singing are challenges that they are throughly enjoying and getting much better at. I was delighted to learn that quite a number of students shared our Thanksgiving Song as a blessing for their Thanksgiving meal and many others are singing songs from their binder regularly at home or to and from the schola. I know that they love our games and these are featured in every class and are great teaching tools.
Now may be the time to review the letter given out at the beginning of the year about how you may be a more active participant in your child’s musical journey. As you may be discovering - all the music that we sing is memorized and while their brains are programmed to do this relatively effortlessly, longer songs require some 'at home’ time. This pertains to the hymns that we do at our masses which appear at or near the front of their binders. (Your child will know what verses we are working on). Both "We’ll Dress This House" and the "Lion and the Lamb” will require some home practice. Yes, we already are singing some Christmas music. Both of these selections will be shared at the Bow Valley Seniors’ Luncheon which is on your calendars for November 25th. It is always exciting how quickly the Little Lambs get bitten by the performance bug.
So you can see that we have already accomplished much. I love being a part of their early musical journeys and my time with them is a highlight of my week.
To The Parents of the Little Lamb Choir,
How wonderful it is to be welcoming returning and new students to the Little Lamb Choir. I think that most of us thrive better with more routine so I LOVE being back! I am so impressed at how well my young musicians are adapting to a new school year and are embracing so much of what we are already doing. At the time of the writing of this contribution, we have spent a relatively short time together and still there is much to celebrate. Many parents have already shared that their children are singing at home and to and from the schola. The enthusiasm I see and the singing voices I hear put a smile in my heart. Additionally, they are already working very hard to make new found discoveries and are learning a bit more each class about the universal language of music. While a few are adjusting to typical beginning of the year challenges, I know that they will find their way. With all I merely encourage them to try their best. Quite a number of returning students are leaders in the making and their participation is setting excellent examples for our new Little Lambs.
At the Parent Meeting, I had the opportunity to briefly discuss our program with a majority of parents. Though I touched on what we do to prepare for our masses, it may be good to give more of a context and to outline our goals for this year’s masses. When I first arrived at the schola, I observed that many in the Little Lamb Choir struggled with appropriate Mass behavior; it was a COVID year after all. Since then with increased involvement in the sung Mass, they have come to accept greater responsibility and have found a sense of purpose. This year in addition to the Gospel Acclamation, Lamb of God and Ave Maria in Latin - which are now established as part of our Mass Curriculum, we will add the following:
1. The first verse of the Communion Hymn - as reading abilities are still quite limited for many of the Little Lamb Choir, and we rely on memorization to learn much of our music - this is all we can offer up with a certainty. At Communion many of the congregation are not singing for obvious reasons, so we hope to provide some additional support at this point in the mass.
2. We hope to also provide support during the Responsorial Psalm.
3. I am strongly encouraged that the Little Lambs provide other responses by just using their listening skills and musical brains with the Kyrie, Prayers of the Faithful and such.
4. Additionally, I will pull whatever concepts that are most readily accessible to them in other hymns that are chosen.
Certainly, you may assist your child in all of the above. The hymns will be in their binder and so they will have further opportunities to practice much of the above. Singing hymns at home and church will be a great model for your child.
This is going to be a very exciting year. Please know that I feel blessed to be a part of your child's musical journey.
Katheryne Perri Edwards
Katheryne Perri Edwards, a singer and music educator comes to St. John Choir Schola with the following credentials. She graduated from the U of A with distinction with a B.Ed (Music Education) and from the U of C with a M.Ed (Specialization in Early Childhood Music). She taught music for 37 years. The first 13 years were with the Calgary Separate School Board where she received an Excellence in Teaching Award and her last 24 years with the Youth Singers of Calgary where she was the Program Director/Teacher of the Kids & Music Program. This was a four-level music education/preparatory choir experience for Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, Grade I and Grade 2 Students.