Kids’ Choices

I like working with kids. Always have. One of the most wonderful things to watch is to see them develop as musicians over the years. I’m also fascinated by their thought processes: what choices they make, how they judge options, their likes and dislikes.

My daughter, for example, has noticed Lady Gaga. They played one of her tunes, “Paparazzi,” I think it was on the radio on the way home from school the other day. Good stuff I thought. A pop singer who can use her head voice as well as her chest voice and she sounds good and smooth using both in the same song.

Tonight we had the final rehearsal for the “Family” Christmas Eve Mass. Donna, our choir director, traditionally allows instrumentalists to prepare and play a piece as part of the prelude before Mass. Some of the choices were pretty standard. A nice setting of the Huron Carol for flute: flautist and pianist mother discussing the merits of playing the flute in the voice range or an octave up. What do you think, Todd? they asked. Both, I replied. Play two verses.

The director’s son plays trumpet. He asked me if I had “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day.” Amazingly, I had a three-part voice arrangement I reduced from an SATB a number of years ago. I no longer have the original octavo, so I’m going to have to work backwards from a sparse voice arrangement. And transpose the piece from G to F for me.

Another young pianist brought a really elegant arrangement of “What Child Is This.” Donna agreed when I suggested we slot it for preparation of the gifts.

The high school guy who plays bass clarinet was offered a slot. He mostly aw-shucks shrugged while the younger choristers were playing one or one-point-five minutes pieces from the standard Christmas repertoire. The director asked me to suggest something. So I gave him a choice between “Of The Father’s Love Begotten” or “Once In Royal David’s City.” Which do you think he picked? Hint: it wasn’t even close.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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