“Music was the Missing Piece”
Driving her two children home from Congregation B’nai Israel in Sacramento one recent night, Denise Crevin hadn’t even had a chance to ask her usual check-in questions when her 5th grade son asked to see her phone.
“I have to play you what we listened to in Hebrew today,” he said, full of excitement. “It was the t’filah prayer we always do but it had guitar and other instruments. It was so cool.”
Parents, of course, always enjoy witnessing such unprompted enthusiasm. For Crevin, however, the moment was extra sweet. She is also the Director of Education at the school, which implemented Hebrew in Harmony this year at the historic 170-year-old congregation.
The music that generated the excitement was Natalie Young’s rendition of Adonai S’fatai Tiftach, which is included in the Avot V’imahot module of Hebrew in Harmony. Crevin was drawn to the prayer curriculum for her school because it uses multiple modalities and “has all those inroads for kids to make meaning and figure out why a prayer might connect with them at a certain time.” And, kids love listening to music and she has found music gives them a way to think differently about the prayers. “Music was the missing piece that has piqued their interest.”
Teachers in class are using the digital component, which includes all the music and videos for the program, as well as games and reading and recording features. They play the music and videos either on their own devices or on laptops to introduce each prayer to the class.
On that drive home, Crevin’s children [the 5th grader and his 8th grade sister] began a “whole deep conversation about what they liked about the prayer and the melody, about what made it different.”
Listening from the front seat, Crevin heard them “going to town having this whole conversation about about prayer and music “in terms of how it helped them pay attention and be more intentional when saying the prayer. They were so excited.” Her son decided to tell the cantor to learn the new melody he heard in his class, and mused about asking his guitar-playing friend to learn the tune with his band.
“It was a wow experience,” Crevin says. “Imagine how many other kids were having a similar conversation about prayer with their parents driving home.”
Learn more about Hebrew in Harmony here.
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