Monday, March 30, 2009

Jesus wants me for a Sunbeam

I had planned to review "I Belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" with the Sr. Primary and teach it to the Jr. Primary. I had my poster all ready. I was sitting in Sacrament meeting which was also testimony meeting and it occurred to me that what I really needed to be doing was singing Jesus wants me for a Sunbeam. So I crack open the book, because i'll be honest, even I don't know the second verse. I made up four visual aids real quick for the song, on lined writing paper.
Jesus wants me to be loving - heart
And kind to all I see - an eye and a sea (water) although a C would have worked
Showing how pleasant and happy - I wrote pleasant with a smile below it
His little one can be - little 1
The kids just ate this verse up, they learned it really quick, probably because the music was already really familiar to them - and they already know the chorus. Once we had the words we sang it legato and staccato, which is is always fun. Then of course I turned the poster over and we did do the other song as well. Two songs in one week!
The thing I found most surprising was that a few kids asked me after primary if we could sing the song I made up again. It took me a minute to realize that they thought I made up the second sunbeam verse. Wow. Maybe only pianists knew there was another verse. I am excited though to have them know the second verse, it's a lot more reverent and since they love singing the song, this gives more to sing. More happiness all around.
I also did use the singing spray to lubricate vocal chords. Who would have known - IT WORKS!!!!!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Singing Time Ideas

Stake Primary Leadership Meeting was a huge success (I learned a lot). I got so many great ideas, thing's I had never thought of. Sister Montgomery had a ton of great ideas and she didn't just tell us about them, she really showed us with visual aids, including teaching a song. It was really remarkable, I wish I had taken my camera. At the end though, she gave away some of her props and I do have pictures of the two I got to take home.

I was very flattered that she talked about my relationship with my pianist. Sister Dayton is amazing and she usually goes along with all my crazy ideas. One thing I felt very strongly about was that she and I should be a team. When I wear big ears, she wears big ears. We also have a set of sounds we use as cues. A sound for "they sang great", "not so great" and "terrible" that way she can offer feedback to the kids musically and they love that. We also have sounds for "stand up" and "sit down" that way when we come to program time they have been practicing standing and sitting on cue for a long time.

  1. She had a hard had that had BFF on the front which stood for "Building Forever Families" for teaching the builder song. She suggested taking photos of children in the primary serving, being measured, learning (reading the scriptures) to use as visual aids.

  2. She played a song on her iPod that the Tabernacle choir did. While she was hanging up the visual aids for the song, you got to hear the choir singing it. She had stretched a clothesline across the room and pinned the pictures to it. (She used those sticky back plastic hooks that you can buy from 3M and then pull off the wall when you're done).

  3. Magic Singing Spray. Use a clear spray bottle with lemonade. Label the bottle. Use it to lubricate vocal chords and improve singing. Ingredients should be kept secret. When the primary needs a little incentive to sing out this is a great motivator. Practice squirting into mouths at home and be careful not to soil clothing.

  4. Get a big 12x12 box to make a die. Attach clear sheet protectors on all sides. SLide pictures or words to tell how to sing a song, or a title of a song. Just make sure you don't use pictures of the Savior.

Singing leaders brought Ideas to share.

  1. For teaching Children all over the World one leader used posterboard and cut out the shape of different costumes, then colored the costumes in. She used ribbon so the outfits could hang around the kids necks like they were wearing that costume.

  2. Another leader said to celebrate the end of winter she had the kids write their favorite song on a half sheet of paper, crumple it up and throw their last "snowball" of the year, towards the front of the room. Then they randomly sang songs from the snowballs.

  3. I shared my Top Ten idea and showed pictures that the kids drew for visual aids.

It's wonderful to get ideas from other leaders and to use them as sounding boards for ideas. I am really grateful to our Stake Primary presidency for including the music leaders in their meeting. We need ideas too.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Good old Choose and Review

The notice came down from the top - we are only singing for Mothers and Father's day this year. I have never lived in a ward where the Primary sings so rarely in Sacrament Meeting. It's kind of a disappointment to me, but also a relief, it can be very stressful. With this in mind, i'm not teaching the Easter songs like I thought, now we can work on them for the pleasure of singing, instead of practicing to sing them in the Chapel. This frees up the schedule a bit and gives me an extra week to review.
Yesterday I put on the trusty apron and we had choose and review. We sang Scripture Power, and Called to Serve, mostly their favorites with some new ones thrown in. It was a lot of fun. I love seeing them hold their scriptures above their head when we sing Scripture Power. It's a wonderful song.
My Mom wrote yesterday about her Chorister. This is what they did:
Today Sister Webb did something she said her sister told her to try. We were learning a song for Easter and it was going slowly. p. 65 He Died That We Might Live Again. She recorded the melody (she plays the piano) on her father-in-law's electric keyboard in these sounds: sax, choir, metal drums, clavichord, galaxy, flute, piano, bells, guitar, etc. She wrote a list of the musical instruments on the board and when the kids heard the song played, they had to guess the sound and then we sang with that sound. We sang the song about 8 or more times with all these different sounds. It was a lot of fun and they could hardly wait to sing with the new sounds. She used a cassette recorder and a cassette. Again I like hearing the kids repeat a song over and over without even noticing. Mom
I thought this was a great idea, after all repetition is a key to learning. I had the JR primary sing the first line of "I Belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" a couple of times yesterday. It's a new experiment, i'm teaching a line a week, just to see how that goes. So far, so good. The Stake meeting is Tuesday, I have to nail down an idea soon, but if I know myself, i'll come up with something tomorrow about 5pm and scramble to get it ready.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Stake Primary Leadership Meeting

I've been invited to our Stake Primary Leadership meeting. All the choristers have been invited to come and to bring an idea to share. Well, I have lots of ideas, but which one do I share. I thought about the singing in style idea, i'm making pictures on sticks to hold up during a song so that we can switch styles while we sing, but i'm not sure that's the one I want to use.
  1. Laminate a white posterboard. I can prepare visual aids at home and just put the poster on an easel, no need to take the time in primary to put things on the white board. I can also write words to a song on the poster board with a dry erase marker and erase words as we go, and I can have that all ready in advance too.
  2. Singing in style.
  3. Have the kids make the pictures for visual aids.
  4. Sing in another language. I have kids in a Spanish immersion program and they love Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes in spanish. It's fun.
  5. Teach the chorus first.
  6. Use instruments. Bells at Christmastime for example.
  7. Musical Measles. Always a winner. To encourage the children to sing, pass stickers (small round circles) out to the teachers. As the children sing they get the "measles". My pianist and I are always covered in stickers.
  8. The magic wand - for leading, encouraging singing, almost anything really.
  9. Keep a master list. I copy out the contents section of the songbook and highlight all the songs the kids know. That way when i'm getting the schedule ready I have a list of songs they know at my fingertips. This makes it easier to keep songs in the rotation because I can't remember everything.
  10. Games. I love games. Tic-tac-toe, memory, hangman, etc.
  11. Create a Singing Time Tribune. A few times a year it's helpful to write a short newsletter and send it home with the kids. You can include birthday's, song's you are working on, reminders for the program, spotlights, etc.
  12. Use the Orange Book (Sing with Me)! Wow the arrangement for Baptism in that book is beautiful! There are other great songs in there that didn't make it into the new book but are still great. Also if you plan to sing I know my Father Lives, your pianist will love you forever if you give her the music from the orange book.
  13. Poll the primary children and create a top ten of their favorites. They love to sing their favorite songs and putting them in a top ten format just makes it more fun.
  14. Sing an Article of Faith as your opening song. Each month sing a different Article of Faith. The posters are available in the library. This is a great way to help the kids learn the Articles of Faith. Singing is remembering.
  15. Be organized. I use manilla folders to keep my ideas for each song and visual aids organized. This helps a lot when I need to find something.
  16. My singing clown that pops up and down when the kids sing. Great motivator.

Well, creating a list didn't actually help. It just made it harder to decide.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Singing in Style

Sunday I got out the tree with the bare branches and we put leaves and birds in the trees. They had songs on the back and we sang the songs as we put together the tree. It's springtime and it just seemed like a fun activity.
We sang springtime songs like: Give said the little stream, In the leafy treetops, popcorn popping, Rain is falling and songs like that. All of them had actions and it was fun to just have fun so we sang some of them in style.

Opera Style
Pirate Style
Reverent Style
Forte and Piano
Cowboy Style

The kids absolutely love to sing in style. It's a great way to grab the attention of the older kids, they are so easy to lose. It's great to see the back row participating. Nothing like eleven year olds singing Popcorn Popping like pirates. The great part was once I had them they sang I lived in Heaven and How Firm a Foundation and a few others really well because I had their attention.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Reverence is Love

This week I went around to some families in the primary and had their kids pose for visual aids for this song.

My sister in law sent a page on how to teach this song with things I could enlarge and photocopy (little hearts), I adapted that idea and used some of their illustrations as ideas for the kids poses. At the end of the song I found a picture of Christ and put kids photos all around it. I get photos from Friends, Ensigns, and the picture packs, they make great visual aids. Once it was done, I ran everything through the laminator. My other sister in law, made this pizza board last year for teaching songs and I punched holes in the sheets and now it's like a flip chart for teaching the song.

The kids like to hold this and turn the pages when it's time. When I was done teaching the song I got out my little German clown puppet. He likes to pop out of his home when the kids sing. The JR. primary loves him, and the Sunbeams can't take their eyes off him. I always get better singers when the little clown comes out. My dad got this for me in Austria, my mom had one when I was a kid she would use in primary because the little kids just love them. Once I had it in my hands though I realized that I could have made something similar with a little crafty skill and a trip to Michaels. I've had someone ask for one so the tag says obviously the site is in German, click on Produkte, and go to Holzkugel, then scroll down until you see them. I have to say a big thanks to my Dad for going out of his way to find this for me.
Once the little clown came out they really sang this song enthusiastically. So now with this under my belt, knowing I need to just leave a little extra time I can forge on with the other songs.