St. Cecilia becomes a music teacher

April 15, 2010

Bobz Book Reviews

Cecilia's cover

“St. Cecilia’s Orchestra,”

by Michael O’Neill McGrath and Alan J. Hommerding

“Read this book aloud!” the authors suggest, and, “Listen for the music in the words.”

I took that advice, and it really made the reading fun.

That’s the best part of “St. Cecilia’s Orchestra.” McGrath’s inventive artwork  and Hommerding’s imaginative poetry both create an atmosphere conducive to enjoying and appreciating learning about music and instruments and how they add to the praise of God.

Hommerding’s lyrical texts could almost be set to music. As a parish liturgical music director he brings a variety of music-like rhythms and a variety of music genres to the words. The book ends up being quite a teaching tool about instruments from around the world and how they praise God and his creation. My favorite example of this is the balalaika — a Russian string instrument like a guitar but with a triangular body — that sounds “plinka-plaika.”

The duo does a great job describing musical genres in both words and pictures. The jazzy “street music, feel-the-beat music” text is dropped into a colorful cityscape that includes a bus, a firetruck, a church, a toddler playing a child’s piano, a subway exit, a church, a skateboarder, a street band and, of course, pigeons.

Meet some new musical friends

Instruments we’re familiar with all have their place in the book — organ, piano, guitar and bells, for example. But the music makers and beat keepers from around the world and across the continents that the authors bring to our attention — and show us how they look — ought to help  everyone realize the many, many ways to celebrate the gifts and the goodness of God

There’s the marimba from the Americas and the djembe from Africa, the pipes of wood, stone, clay and metal made by countless cultures and the ram’s horn of our Jewish brothers.

Whether it’s the horns, the reeds, the strings or the percussion, all the pieces in the choir gathered by the patron saint of musicians are examples of how people all over the planet have used their God-given gifts to create sounds that add so much to life and reflect the wonder of the heavenly creator.  – bz

“St. Cecilia’s Orchestra” is produced by World Library Publications — http://www.wlpmusic.com.

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About Bob Zyskowski

Bob is the Client Products Manager for the Communications Office of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. A 42-year veteran of the Catholic Press, he is the former Associate Publisher of The Catholic Spirit. You can follow him on twitter or email him at zyskowskir@archspm.org.

View all posts by Bob Zyskowski
  • Paul R

    Nice review!

    It almost seems to call out for an accompanying CD–or, in this new world of tablets and smartphones, a version with the instruments playing, too!