How music made a great day!

I received “Making Music Praying Twice” this past summer. Since we were not in school, I did a simple review of the product – a first impressions. I had planned on beginning the program at the start of the school year not realizing just how intense the first month of schooling two ninth graders with Mother of Divine Grace would be. I have made it through nearly six weeks of school and decided on impulse to bring out the program today. I did not read the manual in depth; I did not gather any musical instruments or scarves or do any other preparation. I decided simply that since we were most of the way through the week I would follow the suggested Ordinary Fall week one schedule and this is how the time went.

As a note, the developer gives many different options of how to use the program:

  • a generic, fill-in-the-blank schedule if you are planning on doing the program daily
  • a generic a weekly schedule for a once a week music program
  • suggestions if you plan to use the program in an unstructured manner
  • blank lessons plans if you want to plan out a semester or year
  • 8 weeks of daily lesson plans that feature all the songs and activities for the season
  • 4 weeks of weekly lesson plans that feature all the songs and activities for the season.

So, you have the freedom to use the program as best suites your personality and your family needs. I chose to start with the first week  of the Ordinary Time (OT) Fall Weekly plan, again featuring all the songs and activities included for the fall. (She has the same type of schedules set up for Advent/Christmas/Epiphany,Ordinary Time – Winter, Lent, and Easter/Pentecost for an entire school year’s worth of music).

The first week had the following schedule:

  1. Good Day
  2. prayer – Father I Adore You
  3. sit and sing – The Blacksmith
  4. sit and spin – creative substitutions – Sissy in the Barn
  5. spoken rhyme – Humpty Dumpty
  6. Rhythm Patterns
  7. shaky egg activity – Hamaba
  8. free instrument time – Sing and Play
  9. scarf dancing – My Bonnie
  10. Tonal Patterns
  11. dancing with streamers – Looby Loo
  12. dance activity – Moroccan Melody
  13. Tonal Patterns
  14. prayer – Our Father
  15. God Bless

First impression-the printed material is very nicely bound books and the CD audios are clear and the vocals are beautifully done with both children’s voices and adults, male and female. Next impression-beautifully Catholic-I will explain more in detail.

So, as I said I did no preparation; therefore, I did not know how to implement the Rhythm Patterns nor the Tonal patterns, so I skipped them (I was pressed for time and trying to take advantage of a momentary surge of energy I was experiencing :-) Also, I had no musical instruments, rattles or shaky eggs, nor did I have scarves. But, it all worked out.

I popped the OT Fall CD in, and the first song on the CD corresponded to the first song, Good Day. My children’s eyes lit up as we used their names in the song. The song (and all the rest) were long enough for my children to catch onto the melody and even sing or hum along.

Next, we started on Father I Adore You which happened to be track 2. Again, there were enough stanzas that we could catch the melody and sing along. The music was beautiful and they even in later stanzas had the song in the round.

Now the pace picks up again and we moved on to The Blacksmith. My youngest followed my hand gestures as we hammered and tapped and clip clopped in rhythm to the music. Following this was the substitution song – Sissy in the Barn. This was a bit more difficult for me to follow. One stanza was written out with the notes and words. Then below that were a number of pictures; a man, a woman, a pig, a cow, a boy and a girl. The song used those pictures to substitute to make new verses. You could sing over them and make up your own as I realized later.

Humpty Dumpty was a rousing success. My learning challenged five year old heard the spoken rhyme enough times to catch on. And, we used hand and body motions to go along with the somewhat dramatic presentation (fell off the waaaaaaalllllllllll).

As I said, I skipped the rhythm pattern and even now, I am not sure exactly where it is explained or what CD I should use. I also skipped the free instrument time. But we did go through Hamaba that was based on a Gambian folk song. Next we sang My Bonnie. Although we did not have scarves to use, the children enjoyed swaying in time with the music. Looby Loo was a fun, full body experience that everyone enjoyed participating in (put your right hand in, shake it all about, etc.) The last song before finishing up was Moroccan Melody. The instrumentals and vocals were ethnic including perhaps a sitar and drums and finger cymbals (I am sorry but I am unfamiliar with the names of the instruments).

Finally, we came to the end. Our Father was sang without instrumentals in a very clear, beautiful female voice. It was sang again in almost a polyphonic chant perhaps.

The last song was a nice wrap up and in the style of the first song – “God Bless” where you substituted your family’s names.

Other songs on this particular CD included the Magnificat sung by a female singer with no instrumentals. As I listen, my nearly three year old is signing along, at least the melody. Holy God We Praise Thy Name is a male vocalist accompanied by a classical guitarist.

So, after one day, I am absolutely thrilled. I love, love, love the Catholic content and the following of the liturgical year. I love the ethnic music and exposure to different tonalities and instruments. I love the well laid out plans (although, I do intent on using the daily plans for the rest of the year).

Complaints / suggestions? Hmmm, none – I would suggest that you write the track numbers on the song books that accompany each season as the CD has no track names. And, I will have to search out the huge teacher’s manual for how to do the rhythm and tonal exercises, but I am comfortable leaving out this feature entirely.

Downside? Finding time for the little ones – but after one day, I see how much they enjoyed this, and my intent this year was to be more proactive in finding activities for the little ones. And, cost is a downside – yes, it is nearly $100. But, this is a non-consumable product and the quality of the printed material and the CD’s is top-notch.

I hope and will suggest to the developers that they try to attend some Catholic homeschool conferences so others can see this in action. This could even be a great vendor talk to offer.

I plan on updating this post as I move through the additional seasons.

Update: We begin again for the new year. The young kids are very enthusiastic about the music. I also shared this with a friend that has a large family with young children and she was very excited about it.