For the first time in over five years the Diocese of Parramatta, Catholic Youth Parramatta (CYP) are organising a masterclass for those already in and aspiring to start music ministry in their parishes and youth groups.
The Music Ministry Masterclass will be held on Saturday 3 August at Mary Immaculate Catholic Church, Quakers Hill as part of what is being called ‘Super Saturday’. Super Saturday will conclude with LIFTED Live – a night of praise, worship, prayer, music and adoration featuring Diocese of Wollongong musicians Gus & Iggy.
“We’re so excited [to be presenting]! We’ve both been doing this for a long time and feel like we have a lot to share with those who might be new to it. So we’re hoping it really helps people to get amongst the music ministry in their parishes and movements,” Louisa Daniels from Gus & Iggy told Catholic Outlook.
“We’re doing a few talks and workshops. [We’re doing] a keynote on evangelising and outreach through music, with a bit of a Q&A, and a workshop on songwriting,” Louisa added.
The masterclass will include tailored formation in music ministry on a range of topics including evangelising through music, succession planning for youth bands and songwriting techniques.
Presenter Alice Bradshaw, from St Bernadette’s Parish, Castle Hill, told Catholic Outlook that music has the ability to “help people to experience and encounter God.”
“Think of all the feelings, memories, emotions and moments that a song is able to conjure up when you hear it. When you are so moved by what you hear and experience, it is awesome – and this is why it is so important for parish life too.
“Music has the ability to help people to experience and encounter God. It gives the means for people to hear and feel God in their midst, especially when the spoken word is just not enough,” she said.
For presenter Claire Brown, who helps lead music ministry at St Finbar’s Parish, Glenbrook, music has always been a passion of hers, as she is also a private music teacher.
“Music in my parish is very important. We are very blessed to have many music groups with ranging styles to suit different worshippers and Masses – from the youth band to organ and choirs, cantors, folk groups, guitar and singers etc. All group put great thought and effort in choosing hymns and regular practices to make sure that it enhances each Mass.”
Musician and presenter Matt Bretania from St Patrick’s Cathedral Parish, Parramatta, said that to him, music is a “privileged gift from God to serve Him and lead people into worship.”
“It is important for our parish because the particular type of music we contribute to the community which caters to the younger people who are in the early stages of their faith. At the end of the day, our music ministry for youth is just a piece of the puzzle of this wider mosaic and variety which out community offers to the People of God,” he said.
All the presenters said they hoped that those attending the music masterclass will be inspired.
“[I hope attendees gain] some inspiration on how to get the most out of their youth and getting them more involved in worship music in Mass and in their everyday lives,” Claire said.
“Growing in faith and fulfilling our Christian mission is lifelong. Any opportunity to gain more insight, to learn, to be inspired and strengthen for the mission is a good thing. How to help God’s people to discern what their ministry is, to keep serving and how to do it in the best way possible continues to be an important part of the work of the church,” Alice explained.
“At the end of the day, all I hope is for people to pick up skills that may benefit their way of encountering God through the means of music. The beauty about this is that there is no right or wrong way to do it,” Matt added.
“We think it’d be great if people were equipped with the skills and tools to make music awesome in their parishes, but also inspired to use music to connect in their own personal relationships with God,” Louisa said.
And do the presenters have any top tricks when it comes to music ministry?
“First and foremost, work on your relationship with God, and allow Him to love you, and let His love change you,” Louisa said.
“I try to create an environment where youth and young adults feel comfortable and eager to share their gifts. I’ve found fellowship and relationship building one of the most important aspects,” Claire added.
“Have a ‘chump’ critic – someone who has no music experience and sits in the congregation and can give the team honest feedback about how the songs sounded, if it worked and if the congregation were singing along. This may mean that songs get dropped from the repertoire, even if it is the music group’s favourite song,” Alice explained.
“Sound check – nothing undoes great music than forgetting or not having time to sound check properly. No point in proclaiming a message that cannot be heart or is distracting to listen to,” she added.
“My one and only trick with music ministry is grounded in prayer. Just prayer and trust alone! The moment one realises that music ministry in the Church is not about them, that is where we give the Holy Spirit the opportunity to have His way and create the space where there is an encounter with Jesus and the worshipper,” Matt said.
Registrations close soon, so to register for the CYP Music Ministry Masterclass, visit https://parracatholic.org/masterclass/