I’ve begun a new feature this year to try to engage the young people through the medium of music. Each week, I bring in a contemporary song to play that is related to the theme of what I am teaching. In some cases, I choose a song that articulates the problem that the Gospel lesson is addressing. For example, for the class that I taught on “Trusting in God’s Goodness,” I played a song by Linkin Park titled From the Inside, a song that expresses an unwillingness to trust. In other cases, I choose a song that illustrates the Gospel message for that lesson, such as this past week, when I played Mariah Carey’s Anytime You Need a Friend to illustrate the notion of what it means to be an Advocate (since we were learning about the Holy Spirit).
How do I find these songs? I Google a lot! I often begin just by Googling: popular songs, lyrics, and then a keyword or two related to my theme such as trust or friendship. When I discover a few songs, I go to ITunes and give a quick listen. When I find a song that I want to use, I download it to my IPod and I play it in class through a small docking device I bring with me.
Another good source is Ann Scally’s Web site www.cornerstonemedia.org which provides a subscription to Top Music Countdown/Top 25 Review which evaluates 25 of the top songs on the charts and gives ways to incorporate the songs into your lessons.
In general, I do NOT listen to the music that kids are listening to these days. I’m a classic rock kinda dude. However, I know that music speaks to kids and it’s a great way to “enter through their door” (as St. Ignatius taught) before I lead them out through “my door.” I often “counteract” or juxtapose the contemporary song from the start of class with a traditional church hymn at the end of class which I invite them to listen to and reflect on.
My hope is that I will eventually invite the young people to suggest songs that they think will speak to upcoming themes. Then, I will explore the lyrics (checking for appropriateness) and download the song and invite them to give a little intro to it.
A few suggestions:
1)Unwritten (Natasha Bedingfield) – The symbolism, spirituality, and theology of baptism as well as the Christian vocation are throughout the lyrics of the song.
2) A lot of Springsteen’s work. I just read an article Greeley wrote about his “Tunnel of Love” album that was spot on! (http://www.americamagazine.org/content/article.cfm?article_id=11047)
I dusted off the album and have been listening to it in the car on the way to work. When it first came out, I bought it, thinking it would be just like “Born in the USA.” As a teenage boy, I was very disappointed. As a married father of 4, his lyrics speak to me and where I am in my spiritual journey in so many ways!
However, I guess The Boss would probably be too old school for your class. Man, that makes me feel old!
Joe, thanks for your suggestions. You’re right about certain artists being old school for these kids. I had to explain to them who Joan Osbourne was. She was SO last century!
Thanks for the link to http://www.cornerstonemedia.org. I saw a lot of great ideas in their Free Activities page. I also thought that the James Taylor song “You’ve Got a Friend” really speaks about God’s love for us. I may be dating myself (Yikes!!!) but a classic song never dies. Thanks for being a Catechist to all us Catechists out here!!!
Bernie, I’m glad you found Cornerstone Media to be a good resource. You’re right about classic songs!