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September 1, 2016

The family who sings together, stays together

family playing music together In the last couple of years, our children have discovered the amazing talent of the Beach Boys. Keep in mind that nobody in our family is a casual listener of music. Since both my wife, Kari, and I are musicians and we make a living by singing and playing instruments, the development of our three children’s musical talent became a natural process.

All three boys, who are now 22, 20 and 16, have developed their natural talent for music and have expanded it with some formal training too. Each one of them, just like their parents, has an eclectic musical taste yet they gravitate toward specific styles, songwriters and performers. All of us have different opinions and preferences and even on some occasions, poke fun at the other for not liking what we like or for liking what we don’t comprehend.

Coming back to the idea of the Beach Boys. Not only the vocal arrangements are fantastic, but the whole concept of imagining Brian Wilson create these melodies and arrange them and teach them to his brothers and cousins and record them is a source of fascination for us. We all agree that genetics add to the beautiful, crisp sound that the Beach Boys offer the listener.

This morning, I saw a Facebook post from my oldest son Daniel. It was the three boys plus myself singing the song Surfer Girl which they had either arranged or found on the internet. We sang it mainly for fun and on the second take, Daniel caught it with his iPhone and posted it.

Listening to the take on Facebook gave me joy and also proof of all those things we have discussed about genetics. Our sound blends so beautifully because we are blood related, and because we have experience singing together and even reading scores, which in a Beach Boy arrangement certainly helps.

This also made me think of how many years Kari and I have been music ministers for the Catholic Church and how our lives revolved around music and our journey of faith. Kari and I have served together in the Church as musicians for 30 years now; this is not counting several years we served before we met. It was only natural that our children, who have spent every Sunday in Church since they were born, would join the ministry as they became capable. These days, we serve at the 4 PM Mass on Sunday afternoons along with other young people from Holy Cross Church in Mesa, AZ.

We are lucky that our boys go to college locally and that fortunately they still remember the value of bringing forth and sharing their gift with the Church community. For the most part, all five of us have kept doing music ministry in our parish every Sunday afternoon. This is quite a remarkable gift and one that is unique. We always delight in getting an arrangement just right with our instruments and we love the sound of the harmonies. We also love the sound of our congregation joining in song since we are aware of the importance of the whole assembly entering the song in full, conscious and active participation, and we love going to dinner after Mass and discuss the preaching of the day and how the music was successful or not in helping amplify the Word of God.

This always reminds me that the family that sings together in Church, stays together. It also reminds me how music can be such a barrier breaker. Through music ministry we have made so many friends and we have brought prayer, joy, peace, comfort, support and praise to so many people. Music has become a vehicle for unity and a glue that holds our family together. The gift of music is one of the most beautiful gifts God has given humanity, and in the case of our family, it is one of the most beautiful common threads we possess.