Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hand out from the UU Musician's Network conference......

A Few Words from the Religious Educators…

Keep up the good work of U.U. music ministry!!!
As a parent... I feel blessed to know UU songs that I sing for lullabies and work around the house. And I feel fortunate to know the stories behind them to tell my children. The lyrics of our songs and the stories behind the songs are very rich religious education opportunities.
Please try not to schedule the Soprano singing Wagner on an intergenerational or
children's visiting Sunday. I had kids sitting on the dais holding their hands over
their ears to the embarrassment of the congregation and me!
There are many ways to make music from the heart. Children can learn through repetition, a song can be melodically simple, but still have intriguing themes. **********
Invite the musicians to share their music/instruments with the children, if they
are comfortable. During the "Children's Story" they could describe how to play the
instrument. Or they could offer a piece to the children in the RE Wing after they
are done in the adult service. Or they could "practice" with the kids arriving and
give them a taste of what is coming.
Don't forget to use the teens for "in-house" musicians. Some are very accomplished
and play in High School Orchestra or are taking advanced lessons in voice or an
I knew that I had done right by my children when I was having a very hard time with a friend's illness with AIDS. My eldest son snuggled into me, put his arm around me and started humming "Find a Stillness."
Keep it simple! Little ones can't do really complicated tunes or lyrics ..
I think most churches don't give youngins enough credit -- most studying music are certainly good enough to play in a church band
Things I HAVE told music directors….from Marie Houck

“There are two things that everyone of all ages needs in music in worship:
the first is an opportunity to HEAR the voice of God in the form of hearing
beautiful music, the second is an opportunity to BECOME part of the
collective voice of God in the form of congregational singing.

From a practical point of view, this mean that at least some of the time,
the music sung by the congregation needs to be accessible to non-readers,
either in the form of familiar songs that everyone ends up learning by
heart, or in the form of repetitive songs or echo songs.

And there is no need "dumb down" the music that is presented for
listening. Children enjoy hearing complex music. They don't need to be
"entertained" any more (or less, I suppose) than adults do; rather, they
need to be engaged. Offer them music that is beautiful, and they will

There is one other piece: children and youth need to learn to "do church",
too, which means learning how to use the hymnal -- therefore some of the
music while the children and youth are in worship (children's, youth,
family, multigenerational -- whatever!) should use the hymnal, so they learn
that part of "doing church.”

Ringing Tributes

Sara Cloe in Hillsboro, Oregon
“Allison Wilski is our super talented Music Director. She wrote a lovely recessional for the children. She just debuted a wonderful original song at our contemporary music service. Allison is a joy to work with!”
Beth Kline in Marietta, Georgia
I am grateful for the incredible professional leadership and cooperative music ministry that Emerson UU Congregation's Choir Director, Dr. Kathy Creasy Mittelman, leads at our congregation.

She is the first to step forward to coordinate Christmas Eve Family Worship pageant music with the kids - even though she has a second, later service that night that is music-based and she leads both with joy.

She has invited & lead children's singing along with adult chancel choir members when she found music that lent itself to doing that - it was powerful and amazing.

She is happy to let other professional choral musicians step in to lead special event children's choirs -since she is very part-time with us and has two other career positions that she juggles.

She has bonded the Choir singers- over 35 of them in a congregation of 120 adults - into a special group of truly "mission-oriented" souls who share their gift of music so that our Congregation rings with the emotions of rejoicing, celebration and renewal every Sunday with her help.

She's amazing.


The little boy was probably not yet five. He was a high energy, very kinetic kid, having a hard time learning appropriate sanctuary behavior on the Sundays the children started in "big church". He was as likely to be found crawling under the chairs as in one. One Sunday as we sang a familiarand repetitive song I watched him suddenly jump up, grab a hymnal, open it up (to the wrong page and upside down), and begin to sing along. He was clearly learning to "do church"!

The little girl was about three. She loved sitting beside her mother in church, and was a regular. We stood to sing "Spirit of Life" -- one her mother sang at home, one she had learned by heart. She joyfully joined in, loud and horribly off key. The faces of the adults near her were filled with delight as she sang all the words. She was blissfully unaware of their attention, just enjoying singing along and being part of the congregation.
The look on her mother's face, though, is what brought tears to my eyes, looking down at her with a complex mix of pride and embarrassment, but
clearly loving being at church with her daughter.

On the Sunday we were celebrating Martin Luther King Day, there was a father sitting with his two daughters -- about 10 and 12 -- in the front row. I stood to lead them in "We Shall Overcome". I knew his history, that he had been an active part of the Civil Rights movement in the 60's, registering African American voters in the south, riding buses, and, on at least one occasion, being assaulted. He picked up his hymnal, without looking to see what we were singing. I said (not just to him, but to everyone) that they should put down their hymnals -- they wouldn't need them. An argumentative sort, he kept his -- until he heard what we were singing. He ended up closing his eyes, and putting his arms around his daughters while he sang this so-familiar song. They could see the music was moving him deeply, though I suspect they wouldn't fully understand why until later. Still, it was a moment when the music was touching an entire family, and drawing them closer together.

I found out recently that when one of my daughters was in junior high and high school, she used to tell her Sunday School teachers she had to go to the bathroom in order to sneak into the sanctuary to listen to the choir.

Finally, one of the things I always enjoy, and have watched several times, is seeing an older sibling show younger new reader how to read the order of worship to figure out which hymn to look up, and follow along from verse to verse in the hymnal.

1 comment:

ms. kitty said...

Kari, this is so helpful! I'm going to send a link to this post to our DRE Vanessa and our Music Director LInda.

By the way, we just scheduled the district DRE retreat at our church and I understand that you will be one of the leaders! Yay!