Sunday, November 7, 2010

Am I Nuts?

After posting this series on how I prepare to teach a new song, I suspect that many of you are thinking “That woman is NUTS! I can’t do this with every song I have to teach! I can’t even sing very well, let alone read music!” I know this process looks hard, but with practice it becomes easier and more natural. So why would you want to go to the trouble when you can make a simple poster or set up a game to teach the words?

Of course, you don’t have to go to the trouble. Songs can be taught in other ways. But, I have always found the process worth the effort for two important reasons.

#1. My effort to understand the message of the song and to consider ways to teach this message to the children is an ACT of faith. It says to the Spirit, “I am looking for what is here to be taught. I am open to help and inspiration.” Because I know that I cannot exercise faith in vain, this action brings blessings to me and a confidence that ultimately our Heavenly Father will help me present the song in a way that He can make effective.

#2. When I have completed this process I have made the song part of me. So, when I am helping the children learn, the information comes out of me. It comes from my mind and my heart, where the Spirit has a chance to help me. I can look into the eyes of the children. I can connect with them and engage them in what I’m trying to do. I don’t have to rely on whatever visual aid or activity I’m using to direct what I do, hoping that it will work. Rather, these aids become tools to help me teach what I know about the song. Pictures, activities, games or posters become the vehicle to deliver whatever I’ve determined is important for the children to understand. Gaining knowledge and understanding about the song means that I can go looking for just the right picture to illustrate a phrase or a fun activity to explore the rhythms or melody. I know exactly what these will do and why I am using them. I don’t have to settle for whatever seems appealing or fun. I can make the activity fit the song. And when I have created a plan, I am confident that I can make it work.

An added bonus is that I have information that I can continue to share with the children whenever we sing the song. I can add things like “I love the way the accompaniment makes the song feel so majestic,” or “I like how the rhythm of the music feels like I’m skipping down the sidewalk.” When I’ve discovered such things about the song, I am anxious to share. I look forward to singing time. When the children learn these interesting things, the song becomes part of them as well, in a way that goes beyond learning the words.

Maybe I am nuts. But I am confidently nuts! ;o)


Kristin said...

It's so true that we sing these songs over and over, and it's wonderful when we can share some new tidbit each time the song is presented. It keeps the message in the song fresh. Confidently nuts is a great way to be!

Jenny in NC said...

I am going to teach "I'll Walk With You" on Sunday and was wondering how to best go about teaching it. I decided to try your preparation method. As I studied the song, many many ideas came to me--more than I will ever have time to use--and my teaching plan just kind of formed itself out of thin air! Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience!

The Children Sing said...

Thanks for your encouragement, Kristin! I'm so glad you continue to read the blog.

Jenny, I am really happy to hear that the process worked for you! Isn't it fun to be able to share what you now know about this song? I'll bet you are anxious for Sunday to come and just think about what that kind of confidence will do for how you feel about your calling. I do hope your plan comes off well!

The Mom said...

I am a new primary chorister for the first time and just found your blog this evening. I can't thank you enough for posting this! The embarassingly funny thing is I already knew this!! There is so much information and so many good ideas on the internet that I forgot to rely on the Spirit.

I have never taught a group of children how to sing a song - let alone a new song that they have never ever heard before - and the thought has simply terrified me. My fear pushed away the Spirit. No idea, however great it may be, can replace the Spirit which is the true teacher. Thank you so much for reminding me.

Kathleen said...

Mom, you are entirely welcome. I am glad you found the blog. Isn't it interesting how the things we learn and understand well, logically, can be so difficult to learn emotionally. It will become easier and easier and every week you have a new opportunity to overcome that fear. Thankfully the Spirit is patient with us, and recognizes our sincere desires. Thanks for your comment.

Pollock Palooza said...

Well even if you are nuts... I would LOVE to be in your primary!!!

Loni Redden said...

Thumbs up! This is very helpful and inspiring. Thanks for writing this series. :)

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