Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Cherubs, The Dancers, The Children, The Mariachi, and Summer Camp

I have been so busy lately.
I know I haven’t finished
writing all of The Road to Juquila blog entries.
I still have some thoughts about that trip:
about holy water;
about Our Lady’s mantle;
the story of Juquila.
And I promise to post all of that
as soon as possible.

But I really have been so-o-o busy.

February saw me working like a mad woman
on a proposal of sorts.
I don’t want to write to much about that here.
I only mean to say
that I did a lot writing
and a lot of soul searching.
Whether or not the grant money will arrive
is really only the half of it.
I learned so much from the process.
I needed to write
a personal mission statement
and vision statement.
One can learn a lot about self
in just such a process.
It was a time consuming process,
a draining process.
But mostly,
it was a selving process.

I continue to work at COMPAS
(Center of Music and Performing Arts Southwest).

To tell the truth,
I am finding that I love this job more and more.
I had two new piano students yesterday.
I think this puts me at 21 piano students now.
To tell the truth,
I’ve lost count!
And that just confirms for me
what I truly believe the Holy Spirit is calling me to.

You see,
I’ve been working in the music ministry
for well over 20 years. . . .about 28 years.
And I’ve led adult choirs,
children’s choirs, women’s choir.
I’ve worked with flutists, guitarists,
other organists and pianists.
I’ve worked with cellists, violinists,
bag pipers and trumpet players.
I’ve worked with cantors and soloists.
I’ve coordinated and collaborated
with various Mariachi groups.

But, somehow,
I feel this push,
this nudge.
It’s not just about planning and preparing
the music for liturgy anymore.
Oh, I love that
and will continue to do that forever, I do believe.
But I find I’m being called
to do more than that.

I find that I am being called
to create the musician today
that will become
the pastoral musician tomorrow.

One of my piano students
is a member of St. Gabriel’s children choir,
another child from the choir
is a voice student.

Two of my piano students,
attend the evening mass
and often ask me about the songs from last Sunday,
what chords I used,
who cantored the psalm, etc.

Another of my piano students,
a gentleman
(whose daughter is also my student)
states that the only reason he wants to learn
is so that he can one day
lead the music at church.

One of my piano students
is a guitarist that works with me
in the music ministry at St. Gabriel’s.

The youth mariachi at COMPAS
is taught by Mr. Newhouse.
I often go downstairs
and just spend time with these wonderful young people.
I’ve sang with them a couple of times,
just for fun.
These young musicians
are currently working on a mass setting.
Mr. Newhouse and I
are presently visioning
how we can bring these young musicians
to church,
a mass where youth mariachi are the musicians
and the children’s choir
lead the singing.
It’s still all just an idea.
But at least we are planning and discussing
and putting it out there!

But even more,
a few members of the choir at St. Gabriel
are starting to ask me questions
about a lot more than the songs for liturgy.
A few of them
asked me for a keyboard chord chart.
Others are asking me,
not only how to play or sing a scale,
but how to create and form it,
about how to find the chords
that go with the scale.
When I explained the circle of fifths,
a light bulb went on
for one of the guitarists.

I truly feel called,
to not only plan and prepare the music for worship,
but to also help create the musician
that will lead that music tomorrow.
And to create the opportunity,
especially for young people,
to lead the music themselves
every once in a while.

This is not at all to say
that I feel any less called
to a good old fashioned
pastoral music ministry.
On the contrary,
I vision much for St. Gabriel parish.

The children’s choir is doing fine,
though I still believe
that she could be twice the size
that she currently is.
I think 45 members
is optimum for a children’s choir,
for a variety of reasons,
which I won’t detail here.
But my point is,
while the children’s choir is holding its own,
there is much room for growth.

I am also increasingly aware

that there needs to be
a youth/teen music ministry in place.
I know the pastor has been visioning
and working on this,
but, I too, begin to see the future.
There must be place
for the children to grow into with their music
after they leave the children’s choir.
And I am increasingly aware
that this youth/teen music ministry
must be something that reflects teen culture,
not just the same old church stuff.

I also being to see
where a Cherub Choir needs to form,
a place where children ages 3-6
can begin their life of music ministry.
I haven’t mentioned this to the pastor yet,
but I’d like to flesh this idea out a bit
and perhaps start just such a program
by Sept. 2010.

And I have this idea,
an idea that has been with me
for many, many years,
long before coming to St. Gabriel,
about holding
a children’s music ministry summer camp.
I have been VERY impressed
by the Vacation Bible School at St. Gabriel.
And I begin to realize
that I am walking on the holy ground
where this music summer camp
may be able to take life.

I envision this being
time dedicated to a specific musical element,
the psalms, for example.
Or perhaps mass settings.

I envision this to include much more
than just the hum drum vocal exercises,
but to include
how music can be found all around us:
in the siren of the fire engine,
in the meow of a cat,
in the doorbell.

I envision this music summer camp
closing with a concert,
featuring new music learned.
But also closing with a challenge for these children:
What are you going to do
with the knowledge gained?
How are you going to make music better
for your church?
I envision not only teaching music,
but teaching that what we have received as a gift
we must give as a gift.

And then there is the parish dance troupe.
I said dance troupe.
St. Gabriel has a Mexican Folkloric Ballet.
A wonderful group of young people
who make it their mission
to learn and preserve this wonderful art.
A number of churches in southwest Detroit
have dance groups,
but none of them,
to my knowledge,
are incorporating these talented youth
into liturgical celebrations.

I know the liturgical police
will probably place me under arrest
for even suggesting this.
So be it.
But I really would LOVE to see
these kids dance. . .
While we sing the Gloria. . .
While we sing Santo, Santo, Santo. . . .
Oh, what beautiful movements of praise
can be made!

. . . .and what if. . . .
What if. . .
What if the youth mariachi from COMPAS
served as musicians
and what if the children’s choir leads the singing. . .
And what if the folkloric ballet dances. . .

Oh, yes!
I am definitely being called,
being pushed and pulled
into something more. . . .

The Cherubs,
The Dancers,
The Children,
The Mariachi,
and Summer Camp. . .
If I could just get all of this stuff out of my head
and into reality. . . .

I realize that a lot of what I suggest here
will require funding,
which probably doesn’t exist right now.
But I’m game for looking for the money.
Writing this all out
on to electronic parchment
at least puts the ideas out there.
Goals and objectives can be written later.
Volunteers can be sought when the time comes.
For right now,
it’s just getting the ideas out of Rubi’s Head.
Once in better shape,
we (yes, I said “we”)
can look for funding.

The Cherubs,
The Dancers,
The Children,
The Mariachi,
and Summer Camp. . .

. . .yeah,
I’ve gone mad.
That will be my excuse
when the liturgical police
come to place me under arrest. . . .