Monday, June 21, 2010

Sparkle Tip #3 - Plan to Improve Yourself

Last week I posted a quote by President James E. Faust: “The Lord can do remarkable miracles with a person of ordinary ability who is humble, faithful, and diligent in serving the Lord and seeks to improve himself. This is because God is the ultimate source of power.”

#3 - When I notice that I am in need of serious sparkle, the only tangible option I have is to make a plan to improve myself. After I have taken the necessary steps to prepare spiritually, on a continuous basis, then I need to assess what my actual weaknesses might be and to find actual strengths to emphasize.

The prophet Moroni, under extremely difficult circumstances, accepted an assignment to complete the abridgement of the record which we now have as the Book of Mormon. Although Moroni accepted the assignment and had total faith in the worth of the project, he felt insecure in his own ability to do it adequately, especially compared to the abilities of others whom he perceived as having done a better job. And he worried what others would think of his work. Moroni discussed his fears with the Lord. He said to the Lord, “I fear...” Then he reports that the Lord spoke back to him and said “my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness; And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” (Ether 12:26,27)

This promise extends to all of us who are engaged in the work of the Lord. I can sincerely think about how I can improve as a primary chorister and then decide how to begin. I can think about those skills that would make me more effective. I can try to identify people or resources to help me learn these skills.

My very favorite resource for learning how to be a primary chorister is the old training video “How To Teach a Song to Children”. I hope that it might still be available to you in your meetinghouse library. In my humble opinion, this video is simply the best. Once you know the method for teaching a song, other chorister skills can build on this foundation. I’m sorry that I don’t know if it was ever available in languages other than English. Sadly, this video is no longer available in the materials catalog. An abbreviated version called "Teaching Children to Sing" is available online.

Teaching, No Greater Call
is another favorite resource that I use in my efforts to improve my abilities. There is so much to think about and ponder in this manual. I love to just read it. It might seem that the content is really focused on classroom teachers, but I don't find that to be true. As I consistently ask myself "How does this apply to my calling as chorister?" I always find the information to be of value to me. Sometimes it seems that we choristers cannot control many of the variables that affect us, like discipline and environment, that are suggested in this manual. But I find that I just need to think a bit out of the box and take some proactive measures like enlisting the help of the primary presidency.

Many stakes plan training for music leaders in the scheduled auxiliary training so don’t miss whatever instruction is offered. If it seems that nothing is planned for your calling, ask for it. The choristers in the other units in your stake will benefit from the help as well. Some stakes even have a Stake Music Leader who could work with you or at least offer helpful suggestions.

However I go about it, as I recognize my own areas of weakness and have faith in the Lord to help me, then He will strengthen me as He did Moroni and I will teach in ways that please him.

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