In a recent post I told you about a singing time plan that I came up with after reading an idea in The Friend magazine. I thought I would explain a little further how I make this magazine work for me. I know that some Primary choristers think that the Church has given us very little in the way of resources. Since we are encouraged to use only approved resources, we sometimes feel frustrated that we don't have a specified manual of methods and ideas. Following this counsel isn't as easy as teaching an outlined lesson in a manual. We have the Children's Songbook and we are encouraged to use prayer and inspiration, but some of us struggle because the Spirit doesn't give us ideas out of thin air. Primary music is so much fun, but only if we're prepared! One can't help but notice how relentless this assignment is. Sunday comes up every single week and it just keeps coming. After you've tried every good idea you've ever thought or heard of, there is Sunday again, just around the corner.
How do I find ideas that are creative and fun? The Friend is my very best and favorite resource. It is approved and has enough inspiration to last a lifetime! It has pictures. It has games. It has poetry, stories, and activities. It has messages from our Prophet and Apostles. All of these features inspire and suggest ideas to me. Especially when I've been praying for help. The Church has been publishing this magazine for over thirty years! Back issues for the last nine years are freely available in digital format here at lds.org. Issues published before 2001 are available on an inexpensive CD.
When an issue comes in the mail, I immediately sit down and read it. After a day or two I will pick it up again and read it, thinking about the weekly primary themes. I will always have a thought about how I could use something or other. I will see how one of the stories or activities could be developed into a singing time with choose and review songs. There may be a picture or a poem or a quote that I can use as an attention getter to introduce a song. Sometimes I can use these ideas immediately but I may have to wait a couple of months for the right theme to come up. Sometimes I can think of how I can use the framework of what might be published and adjust the content to fit what I need to teach. Sometimes I just make a note of a good idea on a list of ideas to be developed in the future.
In this month's issue there is a beautiful centerfold article called "The Living Christ" with pictures of Jesus and testimonies of the apostles. I thought of developing a musical narrative using pictures and songs about Jesus and reading some of the testimonies as narrative between the songs. This would fit well into February's theme, or I could wait and use this idea with the theme "Prophets Testify..."
I wrote a post about the January 2010 issue of The Friend. Look under the label "Using the Friend" to read it again. I'll challenge you to see what you can find in the February issue. I hope you'll leave a comment.