Musi-quah explores music of world religions at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church

August 21, 2012

By Christina Corrales-Toy

St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church underwent a dramatic transformation more than a year ago, adding classrooms, meeting rooms and a music center to the Issaquah church.

Now, the staff is excited to add a chorus of children’s voices to the music center through Musi-quah, the church’s new musical education program.

The weekly afterschool program, for third- through fifth-graders, allows children to discover their own musical voices while exploring the melodic riches of different cultures and faiths, according to Jason Anderson, Musi-quah’s director.

“We were really taken with the idea that you can explore a variety of music from a variety of faiths and cultures,” he said. “There’s no indoctrination or anything, it’s just an exploration.”

Anderson said Musi-quah is taught in a holistic approach. Half of the time will be spent delving into music from different faiths, the other half will be focused on music fundamentals and teaching children how to read music.

If you go

Musi-quah

  • For third- through fifth-graders
  • Thursdays from 4:10-5:30 p.m., beginning Sept. 6
  • St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church
  • 325 S.E. Darst St.
  • $175 for 13-week term, scholarships available
  • www.musi-quah.org

The group will explore music from both Western and Eastern religions. Anderson hopes the exposure to the different religions will show children the importance of acceptance.

“There is a side to all of these faiths, primarily found in the music and the liturgy of these religions, that is really meaningful and peaceful and can instill in kids a love of peace and tranquility,” he said. “It also can show them that there are other aspects to these faiths.”

Musi-quah will be an intimate setting, with 22 students taught by Anderson and a group of volunteers initially. If the program is popular, Anderson said there are plans in place for expansion.

The cost is $175 for the 13-week class, but Anderson said there is extensive financial assistance in place for families in need.

“For those families that need it, we have quite a bit of money available in terms of scholarship,” he said. “So, if cost is an obstacle, we can work around that.”

While advertising the program, Anderson admitted he received pushback from a few churches concerned about the program’s intent. But Anderson made it clear that Musi-quah is simply an easygoing exploration and not a vehicle to indoctrinate children.

“I understand their concerns, but this isn’t the point,” he said. “The point is to get together, sing and explore music from different faiths and share it with others.”

Musi-quah is an all-embracing program. Children of any faith or belief system will be welcomed with open arms, Anderson said.

Angie Lukens serves on the Musi-quah planning committee, a group of volunteers committed to assisting the program. Lukens has children who just missed the program’s target age, but she plans to enroll her younger son next year.

“I wish I could enroll myself,” she said.  “As a former teacher and current school volunteer, I see the value in Musi-quah’s positive message. Musi-quah is an enriching afterschool activity in a safe and nourishing atmosphere, which I think a lot of parents are looking for.”

Lukens and Anderson said that music is a universal language found in nearly every religion.

“It’s important in today’s world to recognize our similarities, and music is a great way to do that,” Lukens said.

The church is a bit behind in getting the word out on the program, which starts Sept. 6, so plenty of space is still available. Anderson said the plan is to take enrollments all the way through Salmon Days weekend in the first week of October.

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