An initiative in the Archdiocese of San Francisco to form the Catholic imagination through beauty will next month host a workshop on how to teach “chant camps,” in which children and teens are educated in Gregorian chant.

The Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship, founded by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone in 2014, is holding a Teaching Children’s Chant Camp Workshop in Menlo Park, about 30 miles south of San Francisco, Aug. 9-12.

The institute means to promote the vision of the Second Vatican Council, whose constitution on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, said that Gregorian chant is “specially suited to the Roman liturgy” and that “therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.”

Maggie Gallagher, executive director of the Benedict XVI Institute, told CNA that children are particularly receptive to Gregorian chant.

“Kids, teens, and tweens take to chant like a duck to water. For two reasons: First, music is a language and like all languages it is best learned young,” she said.

“Secondly, kids are fascinated by doing ‘grown-up’ music. People keep offering 8 and 9 year olds ‘children’s’ hymns at the exact moment tween are looking to put aside the babyish and assume older identities.”

Gallagher’s words echoed those of Pius XI, who wrote in his 1928 bull Divini cultus that in “their earliest years” young people “are able more easily to learn to sing, and to modify, if not entirely to overcome, any defects in their voices.”

This is the first summer the Benedict XVI Institute has held chant camps for children. The camps’ director, Mary Ann Carr-Wilson, however, “has taught children’s chant camps for the past ten years, helping to pioneer the form,” Gallagher said.

Rather than teaching solely performance, the camps impart a sense of the meaning of the Mass, and what is participation in the liturgy.

An important detail, Gallagher noted, is that the children participants deepen their understanding of the Mass.

Gallagher reported to CNA the words of Fr. Corwin, the chaplain at a recent chant camp, that “These kids get more catechesis at chant camp than some kids receive all year. They learn what the Mass is. They learn than chant is not performance, it’s prayer.”

Gallagher told CNA that “if you’d like to bring a chant camp or a chant camp workshop to your parish or school or youth choir, contact us Rose Marie Wong at [email protected]

She added that one or two slots with scholarships for the Aug. 9-12 How to Teach Children Chant workshop are available.

Full story at Catholic News Agency.