Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Teaching a Song - "Discovery Questions"

My favorite method for teaching a new song is to use questions. I call them “discovery” questions. These are questions that you ask before you sing. The children need to listen to the song to discover the answer. For instance, I would say “Listen to this song and see if you can discover one way the Holy Ghost will help us.” Then I will sing the song to them and let them answer the question. After asking two or three questions, and singing to them, I will invite them to join me in singing the answers. Soon they are ready to sing the whole song.

I like this method for a number of reasons. First, because children are naturally curious, this method works as a built-in attention getter. They want to find out the answer to the question and so will listen to the song. Also, the questions invite the participation of all the children at the same time. Everyone can listen, even the littlest ones. The question method allows the children to hear the song several times before they are expected to begin singing themselves. This is a very real help to the children. To have the pianist play the melody through once while saying the words, is a common introduction to singing a new song, but this is often not enough for the children to confidently join in. Finally, asking questions is easy and comfortable for me. There is very little preparation. As long as I know the song well, I can teach it at the drop of a hat. So I can take advantage of extra time here and there. And, because I am not juggling or timing a lot of visual aids, I can really interact with the children. I can look into their faces as I sing to them and smile and engage them in what I’m doing. This interaction seems to go a long way toward getting them to sing with me. I love visual aids and I use pictures and flipcharts often, but to introduce a song that is completely new, I usually use discovery questions.

If your primary children are trained to expect a poster or a flipchart to learn a new song, be patient while they get used to this method. It does take a little focused thinking on their part. But this focus is a good thing for everyone. One of the real benefits of asking these questions is that the children learn the process of pulling the principle out of what they hear us teach. This is an important skill. How many times do we read a scripture with the children and ask “What did that say?” This is simply the same method using the message of the songs.

This “discovery question” method is thoroughly taught in the old Primary training video “How to Teach a Song to Children” and in the shortened video clip online at lds.org. A number of examples of song presentations, using this method, are illustrated in the Sharing Time Ideas in many back issues of The Friend magazine.


Ruthie said...

I love this idea, thanks so much for sharing. I think I will give it a try this Sunday!

The Titmi said...

Thank you! I was just talking to my husband about how I do not want to use flipcharts and visual aids EVERYTIME I introduce a song. I love them but want to make sure they understand the concepts and not just the words and tune and I think asking questions is so much better than just telling them.

The Children Sing said...

Thank you for your comments. I appreciate your encouragement.

Tati said...

I have loved reading your ideas! They are perfect! They focus on the songs and their meanings, but are so fun for the children. It is a blessing to have found your blog!

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