Imagine finding yourself at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome with someone who is simply bored with the whole thing and can’t wait to get back to the hotel to watch TV. You would no doubt be annoyed, but also disturbed that the person coulPictured be unmoved by so much beauty, history and religious grandeur. This is the way I frequently feel when I see a young person bored by the amazing wealth of the musical tradition of the West. What a sad state for students who can only find enjoyment in the latest Pop-corn or even the Beatles!

Musical tastes are formed early, so developing a healthy musical life should be a priority for Catholic elementary schools. Before students are fixed in likes and dislikes, before they care about cool and uncool, they are very open to the naturally delightful sounds of Mozart, the intricacies of Bach, the rich layers of Palestrina. Of course, they won’t sit still to hear very long pieces, but shorter pieces, such as Mozart’s Turkish March or Palestrina’s Sicut Cervus, will engage their attention. Gilbert and Sullivan’s musical comedies have delighted my kids so much that they know most of the lyrics by heart.

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