Thursday, June 07, 2007

Vacation Bible School Saga

I've volunteered to help out with VBS at my parish this year. Actually, there was an urgent cry for a musician, since the "usual" is out with a newborn. Somewhat reluctantly, I admit, I agreed to do music.

My last experience with Vacation Bible School was when I was about 17, after having gone to VBS myself in my later youth (up through 8th grade). This is much different. It is a very slick package, curriculum planned for each day all the way down to the snacks. The music is very rockin'. It's pretty good, actually. I was a bit concerned as the first time I opened the book I saw songs "sung to the tune of" songs like "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean" and "I've Been Working on the Railroad". I could not put my heart into teaching songs like that. Just could not.

So today I met with a woman who also answered a desperate plea for a musician, and she is supposed to help me. She is a pianist for a rather highbrow sacred chorus at the University, and she's not a member of our parish (meaning she doesn't have a feel for its culture). Our too-long discussion this afternoon reminded me of the joke that goes

Q: What's the difference between a liturgist and a terrorist?
A: You can reason with a terrorist.

I completely understand having strong opinions about things. I have them, too. But now, these days, for me, it boils down to serving the need. I don't do curriculum as we learn at home. If there's going to be a VBS, I would prefer a very simple approach without all the orchestration. But this has a curriculum, and orchestration, so I am trying to figure out what is expected and how to fit in. I don't go into fits if kids do hand motions during Mass, even though I don't like hand motions. I don't have a big problem with praising God with loud, rollicking electric guitar music. I don't even have a big problem of using it at Mass, at least for a Mass intended for young children. I don't consider it losing our Catholic heritage. It is just a different part of our Catholic heritage. I like a good organ, but let's face it, Catholics don't pump out huge numbers of great organists, at least not around here. (We could learn a thing or two here from the conservative Lutherans, who pretty much require everyone going into elementary education to learn to play the organ, if they have the remotest musical ability. Then again, I think musical ability is inborn for Lutherans....)

So, it will be an interesting week for me next week, teaching K-4 kids rock songs along with a childless woman who opposes the whole premise. Yes, indeed.

Monday's update:

Well, my potential helper did not arrive, and really, it was for the best. I could not have imagined her having any comfort level with it, and the middle school girls helped out doing hand motions, so all was well.

My guitar callouses have been seriously neglected in recent years, however, and I'm in desperate need of a guitar pick so that I don't get another blood blister on my strumming finger!

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