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)