The Treis Family has been enrolled with Mother of Divine Grace School since 2013. With their extensive musical talents, they formed a family chamber choir called "Carissimi." They published their first album of Sacred choral music for the Advent and Christmas season last November. Ken and Danielle Treis were kind enough to tell us about their choir beginnings and homeschooling journey in this interview.
Where it all began...
"Danielle and I met in choir in high school. This was a close-knit group of 24 singers that often won state-wide and regional competitions. Small sub groups from our choir would sing special pieces at concerts and festivals, and Danielle and I were in a vocal quartet that sang a beautiful setting of Robert Burns' "A Red, Red Rose." we also performed together in a musical theater production at our school and in a community chorale."
Our Homeschooling Experience:
It all started when somebody gave us Laura Berquist's book, "Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum." I can say, without a doubt, that homeschooling has been the single best parenting decision we ever made. The benefits are too many to count, but I particularly appreciate the close friendships that have developed between our children and their siblings.
Danielle Treis says, "I chose MODG because of its emphasis on literature and poetry (I was an English major in college) but also because it gave me the flexibility to use other resources as I saw fit. At first, I just followed the syllabi without enrolling. But when our oldest reached 7th grade, we officially enrolled all of our children in MODG. At this time, only our middle and high school children are enrolled, and all of them take at least one LS class each year."
"When Dominic was about five or six years old, Danielle was teaching voice lessons out of our home, and he would imitate the Italian art songs her students were learning. She realized that she could teach our children, the basics of vocal technique, even at such a young age. Since then, we have taught all of our children to sing, though the younger ones have learned far more by imitating the older ones than they have from any of our coaching. String instruments were another big part of our family's musical development. A stranger gave us two fractional-sized violins that her children had outgrown because she'd "heard that we were musical," and a family friend offered to give beginner lessons. Danielle and I had no prior string experience, but now we have six violinists, two cellists, and one harpist in our family! Strings really help children develop an acute sense of pitch."
"Music practice is a priority and happens during the school day instead of in the evenings. At various points in our homeschooling journey, we have sung hymns together as part of our morning homeschool prayers or as part of family prayers. The oldest children remember learning hymns and then singing them for their grandparents and great-grandmothers. What a blessing! As our children get older, those simple times have changed, but I love that we still play and sing together as often as we can. Sometimes this is at Mass on Sunday or at a wedding instead of in the living room, but I’m so grateful for the experience and bond that we share through music. Thanks be to God!"
"Each summer, our children perform a musical theater production together with kids from four other families. The kids do all of the planning and production work themselves, rehearsing online via Zoom for months ahead of time since the other families live 1-2 hours away from us in all different directions. Everything comes together in the week before the performances, when our house and yard become a makeshift summer camp for the performers and their parents. You can watch some of their performances here. "
"We feel so blessed to be able to share some of this truly beautiful music with others. So many people have never heard anything like this, even in their churches! We sang at a friend’s wedding recently, and the priest (a former Anglican whom we had never met) stopped before the final blessing and gave a second sermon saying, “If you read what the council fathers of Vatican II wrote about liturgical music, you’ll find that what you just heard today is exactly what they had in mind. Gregorian chant, hymns in English and Latin, and polyphonies from great composers all serve to elevate our worship through their sheer transcendent beauty."- Ken Treis
We are so grateful to the Treis family for sharing their story and beautiful music with us. These hymns are perfect to add into your homeschooling routine for the upcoming Advent and Christmas season.