Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Homeschool Review: Making Music Praying Twice

Making Music Praying Twice

You can purchase the Homeschool Edition directly from Making Music Praying Twice. It is also available at Sacred Heart Books or at Adoremus Books. Because it is a large purchase, I recommend watching for a deal.

I'm pretty sure I purchased mine from Adoremus last year using their Easter discount code. Their Easter sale is going on now (until April 7th) and I still think it's one of the best prices you'll find if you want to purchase the whole set.

The full homeschool curriculum comes with five CDs, five music books (one for each of the CDs), and a homeschool edition teacher's manual.

I decided to purchase this curriculum last year when I wanted to decrease the number of days we were driving into town and thought I could use it instead of spending an hour in the van every week driving to and from choir practice.

First Son (nine years old) and First Daughter (six years old) participate in the small children's choir at our parish. Second Daughter (four years old) and Second Son (two years old) get the bulk of their singing and instrumentation experimentation in this program. And they love it. Second Son loves it so much he asks for the "Good day" CD nearly daily!

The curriculum comes with five CDs (Ordinary Time Fall; Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany; Ordinary Time Winter; Lent; Easter and Pentecost). Good Day (to begin) and God Bless (to end) are on each CD, but the other songs are a mix of seasonal offerings, spoken rhythms, movement songs, and other fun choices. I am no musical expert, but the performances and recordings seem professional and are not at all annoying for adults. It is a Catholic program and includes such wonderful songs as Dona Nobis Pacem, Magnificat, Our Father, and other delightful hymns like Holy God We Praise Thy Name.

The manual provides plenty of background information and lesson plan options (daily or weekly). I particularly appreciated the sections that talked about all the different ways to incorporate music into life with young children, many of which we were already doing. There's a bit in there about how important early instruction is in brain development. I'm not sure I'm convinced by the idea that children must learn something before they turn four in order to ever be proficient at it, but I do think music play is more important than formal instruction in math or reading. (Of course, I think imaginative play in general is more important than formal instruction in math or reading for young children; that's one of the reasons we homeschool.) The Making Music Praying Twice lessons, however, seem to me to be more of the informal instruction kind rather than formal lessons.

I chose to use the daily lesson plan, but we usually only have official music time three times a week, though the children are free to listen to the CD more often. Ideally, the instructor would be comfortable enough to go through the lesson without the CD, but my musical talents are extremely limited. We simply flip through the tracks on the CD so it can always accompany us. For each track, there is a whole page in the manual with recommendations on using the song in the lesson plans and expanding on it throughout the day (like changing the words during bath-time or when rushing out the door on errands). Kansas Dad is much more proficient than I am at changing lyrics to match our situation. It's something he's always done naturally.

There could be a lot of equipment with this curriculum. I've been investing in musical instruments based on Making Music Praying Twice's equipment guide since at least a year before I purchased the curriculum. Even before that, I had selected good instruments as gifts for our children. Here are a few of the things we've enjoyed:
  • Egg shakers - These were a gift from St. Nicholas one year. They are easy to hold and make a pleasant even sound.
  • Rhythm sticks - These were another gift from St. Nicholas, after watching the children enjoy them so much in our homeschool choir.
  • Floor drum - Second Son received this last Christmas from my parents. Kansas Dad was a little concerned, but the children don't bang on it too much or inappropriately. It has a nice sound and came with two drumsticks (though people complained in earlier reviews at Amazon that it only came with one).
  • Jingle bells - The children received a few of these just last December from St. Nicholas. They make a delightful ringing.
  • Hand bells - Second Daughter received these years ago for her birthday. They're getting a little chipped now from being tossed into our instrument basket, but they still sound wonderful. I chose them because they play actual notes in a scale and I often use them with our music CDs because I can read music just enough to ring the right one now and then.
  • Glockenspiel - Again, this is a really nice instrument that plays the actual notes of a scale. 
  • Long streamers - I had high hopes for these. The girls loved them, but they didn't stay nice looking as long as I'd hoped. That's probably because Second Daughter likes to chew on the silk. Sigh.
I felt like, with this curriculum, I was able to offer my children musical experiences they would otherwise have lacked without formal music lessons in a school setting, though I think it could be a wonderful addition to what children were doing in school if they weren't home with me.

This program is a way to infuse our day with a quiet time for prayer, a silly time for singing or dancing, a loving time with tickling and singing about each other, and a bit of music instruction besides. I believe I first heard of Making Music Praying Twice on the Mater Amabilis website (recommended for the prep level). As I think more about the preschool and kindergarten years, I begin to think we should be doing less rather than more. Next year, Second Daughter will be starting kindergarten. I'm considering skipping formal math altogether, but Making Music Praying Twice will remain an important part of her lesson time.

The activities and songs are particularly designed for children under eight. I found First Son was not focused during our music time and often sent him off to do some independent work. As the year progressed, he enjoyed leading the little ones with the manual and lesson plans. I'm not sure the lessons were quite as educational on those days as they might have been if I led them, but he did a remarkably good job.

I could never be an instructor for Making Music Praying Twice, but the training seems to be quite reasonable and is now offered in a number of cities. If you have the skills and the time, consider becoming trained and offering this program at parishes near you. They are currently working on an updated edition that will have three years' worth of music and lessons.

Don't forget, if you are interested in purchasing Making Music Praying Twice for your home, the Adoremus Books Easter sale is going on until April 7th. (If you miss it this year, they have one every Easter.)

I did not receive anything in exchange for this review. I do not receive anything if you purchase this or anything else at Making Music Praying Twice, Sacred Heart Books, or Adoremus Books, but I do receive a small commission if you follow a link to Amazon, put something in your cart, and purchase it.


  1. I've heard other good things about this and enjoyed your detailed review.

    As we are getting ready to begin our Catholic school journey, I am shocked at how academic kindergarten has become. Wow...

  2. Oh, Monica, don't get me started!

    Remember, though, that the teachers and introductions will stress the academic because that's what a lot of parents want to see. There might be more playtime than it seems. Also, Gemma probably won't feel the stress other children might because she already has many of the skills.

    I am pleased that Kansas still begins compulsory education in first grade, not kindergarten.

  3. That's a good point. We finally received word about half-day, they are only having two full-day sections but giving parents the option to pull at half-day if they wish, and they will focus on all the core subjects while the half-day kids are there, which still doesn't thrill me, but right now I just can't wrap my mind around homeschooling, much as I like the "idea" of it for our family.

    I am afraid it won't be long though and half-day won't even be an option. Which is especially too bad since full-day isn't even a state requirement. Bleh.


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