FALMOUTH---“While the gift of music education is invaluable, the gift of music combined with prayer is immeasurable.”
The motto of “Making Music, Praying Twice” serves as an invitation for parents, grandparents, and children around the country who seek the experience of integrating music, prayer, and Catholic culture into daily family life.
Since 2014, the Parish of the Holy Eucharist has offered “Making Music, Praying Twice,” a program designed to help preschoolers develop an appreciation for music while, at the same time, providing them with an early introduction to the faith.
The program returns to the parish on September 26 at Holy Martyrs Church, located on 266 Foreside Road in Falmouth. The classes will be held each Thursday at 11 a.m. Participants can sign up even after the program begins.
“One of the goals of the program is to encourage the parents and caregivers to demonstrate their love of music and their love of making music because that’s how children learn. They learn through modeling,” says Jennifer Runge, the instructor in Falmouth. “Research has shown that from the ages of birth through age 3, their synapses are firing at the greatest rate that they will be their entire life. So, you give them an environment in which adults are modeling what it’s like to sing and to play and to explore, and they pick it up.”
In the program, the children and their parents or caregivers join together to sing, chant, play, dance, and pray. Each class includes 10 or more songs, chosen from a CD of 25, which the parents are given so they can familiarize themselves with them at home or in the car.
“The kids start to hear it, and little by little, they get to know the songs, and the songs become the basis for the class,” says Jennifer. “There is a certain format, and they know what comes next. There is a sort of up and down flow to it.”
The sessions combine music and movement. Adults and children clap, sway, and march while they hum and sing. Once the adults and children are focused and engaged, Jennifer invites them to gather at a small altar. There, parents and grandparents demonstrate how to put their hands together in prayer, and join in singing a hymn, chosen to reflect the liturgical calendar. Before long, the children and adults are spreading their arms and flying back to the circle again, ready to pretend they’re a choo choo train, experiment with a musical instrument, or slow down and go with the flow beneath waving streamers.
As she leads the group, Jennifer frequently changes pitch, pace, and volume. She even mixes in a touch of Gregorian chant, the original music of the Catholic Church.
The “Making Music, Praying Twice” program was developed by a mother in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, who was looking for a way to continue teaching music, while also remaining involved in parish ministry and raising her children. Jennifer, a mom with a music degree, who was also exploring ways to share her talents with her parish, discovered it through an online search. Ironically, the church where it started is the same one Jennifer’s family used to attend before moving to Maine.
Jennifer says exposing children to music at a young age is invaluable and adds that exposing the preschoolers to prayer and the music of the Mass may also help them to be less restless when they are in church.
“It touches the spirit and the soul in a way that other things don’t,” she said.
To register, visit www.pothe.org/making-music-praying-twice or call the Parish of the Holy Eucharist at (207) 847-6890.