Pope Marcellus for the Very Young
As we listen to the Brahms Requiem we should remember the lessons from the Pope Marcellus Mass (which appears in this anthology in two excerpts: Credo
and Agnus Dei
.) I was reminded of that piece the other day by Helen Radice
as she was commenting on Jessica Duchen’s Memory Lane
which referred to a wonderful post on Palestrina
by David Salvage
. In the comments responding to David Salvage’s post I found this interesting comment by Lawrence Dillon
In a perfect world, everybody (not just musicians) would take a course in 16th-century counterpoint. It requires almost no previous knowledge, and it teaches balance, aesthetic focus, patience and an appreciation for minor miracles.
In a perfect world, 16th-century counterpoint would be put in the required elementary or middle school curriculum, as a discipline that unites art and math studies.
Unfortunately, that will never happen in the world I live in.
My feeling is that it is not unlikely that this could happen in the world Dr. Dillon lives in. In fact, as a general music teacher at a Catholic school, I’ve been hoping to do something like that with my fourth and fifth grade recorder classes this year. The first half of the year we need to work on pitch, tone, and playing together. But, for the second half of the year we are open to taking on some 16th century counterpoint. I don't have a text for this as of yet, but we will see how it develops.
As far as the counterpoint becoming a part of their curriculum in other classes, that is also not impossible. At this school, a Catholic School, that would take some time. It is my observation that the Catholic School approach—and this is only my limited observation—seems to be very compartmentalized. But, other schools not far from us, the Waldorf and Montessori schools for example, I know rely heavily on coordinating lesson plans and prioritize the music curriculum. If they are not already, they may using Palestrina's counterpoint and the Pope Marcellus Mass in their lesson plans for the very young.