Monday, December 19, 2011

Singing in Sacrament Meeting

We sang our three songs, and as so often happens there are some kids that really stand out from the rest.  There are the cute sunbeams who smile and wave to their parents.  There are the older kids who stand sullenly in the back and then there is the one girl or boy who sings out with all their heart and as joyfully as they can (without regard for volume and in some cases tempo).
This time my standout singer was Hannah.  An 8 year old girl with a smile a mile wide and heart that's twice as big as she is.  She sang out beautifully and made me grin from ear to ear with happiness.  She carried the whole primary.  Because of her the others sang better, and louder.  Because of her the older boys took notice and actually sang.  Because of her the ward paid attention and showered her parents with praise for her efforts.  Because of her we played the musical measles in primary, and she was covered in stickers from the very start.  (please see the musical measles post for instructions)
Thank you Hannah!  You made my Christmas merry!!!!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Stars Were Gleaming

I love this song so much, so when it's finally the right year to teach it I get really excited.  This year (after approval) I started teaching the song with two extra verses that were written by Elder Spencer J. Condie (emeritus and currently serving as the Nauvoo Temple President).  I am not sure exactly when he wrote them, I have had them since about 1991, I remember that he told me that he felt like there should be additional words about Christ.  I wish I were half as eloquent as he was when he told me.  Here they are (don't judge me for my punctuation errors!):

In the stable we are able,
to behold the infant there.
Baby Jesus, Mary sees us
as she give him tender care.
Every nation hears salvation,
in sublimest contemplation
for he is the Son of God!

He will heal us and reveal us
all his Heavenly Father's light.
He will know us, he will show us,
he will lead us through the night.
Always blessing, sins redressing,
every tongue will be confessing,
that he is the Son of God!

With this song, all four verses, There was Starlight on the Hillside, and Shine On, we are ready to sing in Sacrament meeting, all songs about light. The light that leads to Christ, the light of Christ, and the light we can share with others.  Merry Christmas!

Jan. 8, 2015
I had a question last Christmas asking for authenticity to confirm that Spencer J. Condie wrote the two verses above.  If your bishop or primary presidency needs authentication send me an email and I will make sure that you can get that.  Sadly, it doesn't seem like enough to take my word for it.  Elder Condie and family lived on Tannenweg at the same time we did.  They lived on the same side of the street as we did and were two houses down.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Primary Theme Song

I think every primary has a theme song, and as soon as I explain you will know exactly which one is yours.
When I was in our previous ward (before the split) the kids requested "Once there was a Snowman" every Sunday.  Sometimes two or three times a Sunday.  It was their theme song.  I got really tired of singing that song every single week.  Anytime the kids could request songs, it was always that song!
When the ward split I tried not to sing that song very often.  Today I offered to sing it with the kids and they commented that we never sing anymore.  So I told them that was the theme song of the other ward.  Then I said I didn't know what our ward's theme song was and a bunch of kids at the same time said "Hie to Kolob".  That's true.  That's our song.  It's requested every week.  Sometimes multiple times, even though we have already sung it. 
I imagine every primary has a song like that.  What's yours?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Very Best Praise

Today after church I checked my FB page and this is what I found:

Mati, Aaron gave you the best compliment I think any music leader could ever receive: "Today in primary when we were singing, I felt like I was drinking a milkshake.". Translation: singing time is as good as ice cream. Wow. That's high praise.
What a great day!  I taught the last verse of The Spirit of God.  I will have the picture of that up soon.  I have spent the afternoon working on my pioneer dress (we are having a pioneer Christmas for the ward party).

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Spirit of God

My primary president has been asking me to teach this song since last year about this time.  I feel bad that it took this long.  We didn't work it into the primary program so it had to wait until that was over.  It turns out that I wish I had listened to her and taught it right away.  The kids still aren't great with Shine On, but they picked this up so fast they sounded program ready by the end of singing time!  Sometimes the kids really do such a great job that I am speechless and amazed at how quickly they fill the room with the spirit.
I had a lot of opinions back and forth about the "Hosanna" bit.  I decided to go for it after my president and I talked about the little kids who couldn't read and would be able to use it for the time being to put that word together in their head.  In a few weeks, the hose and Anna will be replaced with the word and pictures of angels. 
I would like to highly recommend teaching this song because it was so popular right away and the kids sang their hearts out.  The truth is though, what I recommend is listening to the primary president when she feels that a song needs to be taught.  This has been an amazing teaching experience for me.

Shine On

I really love this song.  I have loved it since I was a little girl.  I like the image of holding my light in my hand for all to see.  I started teaching this song about the middle of October.  The first thing I noticed is that the notes are a lot higher than I remembered.  I don't have a super high voice anymore and it's hard to hit the notes.  The second thing was the kids seemed to struggle with it.  Two weeks ago I used our CTR beanbag and we played the game where one child waits outside while another hides the beanbag in the room, then the kids sing louder or softer to help them find the beanbag.  That gave us a lot of repetition with the song and the kids are singing it better.  I want to include it with our Christmas songs for Sacrament meeting so that all our songs are themed around light.
One of the teachers said they needed more words on the cards.  More words got me thinking, so when I went to do The Spirit of God last week, I went with a poster. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Stake Conference this week

Stake Conference is one of my favorite Sundays!  I get to sit with my family and soak up the spirit and the talks.  I'm getting ready to teach "The Spirit of God" and the primary president's request, so another week is welcome.  I remember learning it for the program in the early 1980's, and the chorister had a visual of a garden hose and a picture of a girl which makes "hose" "Anna".  I can't decide if I am going to use that, and the only reason I would is because I have never forgotten that very memorable visual aid!  I can still see it in my head 30 years later!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Due to overwhelming request: Halloween Songs

I'm a Mean Old Witch With a HAT!
Halloween! (Both songs)
There's No Such Thing as a Witch

This week we have a primary activity and we are going to sing these to the parents.  I would have to say by far the kids love "A mean old witch with a Hat" and "Halloween" (The one with witches sailing through the sky).  I remember singing these in primary when I was a little girl.  My kids love them, and my primary kids too!  My son told me this is the first year we have ever sung them, and I'm glad I finally pulled them out.  
I hope you create fond memories of these songs too!

Use the link below to access the google doc with the sheet music.

I know one of the pages is upside down.  That's your Halloween trick!  
You can fix it when you print it out!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Halloween Songs

Many years ago the Children's Friend published some Halloween songs.  I took those to the Primary President for approval and she said okay so we sang some last week.  The children loved them.  They had such a great time singing them.  We do sing other seasonal songs, Christmas, Easter, patriotic songs, pioneer songs, but this was something I had always been afraid to try.  I think I always figured that if someone was going to complain it would be about this.  The surprise was, the kids loved it and the parents didn't mind! It was so fun!  I love this time after the program where we get to play and just enjoy singing.
We are also currently learning "Shine On" and we will be starting "The Spirit of God" soon.
If anyone is interested in the Halloween songs let me know, I'll scan them and email them to you.  Please keep in mind, this is a copy of my mother's copy from the early 1980's and that was copied from the Friend.  At least it's not a copy of a mimeo!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Choosing Sticks

Sometimes it's so hard to choose which child should be selected to help or to pick a song.  Last night I was at our local Lakeshore Learning (it was 10.95 for a package of 36 sticks) store and I picked up these wooden sticks in the shape of boys and girls.  I had each child in the primary color one in to represent themself.  They wrote their name on the stick part and we put them in a box (I'll make a garden out of foam for them for later).  During singing time all I had to do was choose a stick, they are so new, I didn't even know which ones belonged to my kids.  I made one up for me too.   I like to pick songs.  I will also make two up for visitors and probably one that looks like a missionary so we can invite them in and have them pick songs too.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Some extreme marshmallow action

I had an idea in the middle of the week to use marshmallows to motivate the kids (actually my idea was for jaw breakers, so thanks to Mary for talking sense into me).  The idea is that for every song the kids sing well I will put a marshmallow in a bowl.  At the end of singing time I would put them all in my mouth and try to sing to the kids.  There are 12 songs in the program, they got 11 marshmallows in the bowl.
Singing "Popcorn Popping" was kind of ridiculous.  I could barely breathe.  The kids though sang their hearts out to see me do this.  I probably won't ever do it again,  but I got great feedback from the kids - they loved it.  Figures.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


The kids sang "Praise to the Man" this week so well I asked our fabulous pianist for some fanfare.  The kids loved the praise from the fanfare and understood how proud I was of their singing.  I had her play it for me after primary so you get the idea.

Getting ready for the program

Including this week, our primary has four Sunday's before the program.  Instead of doing one singing meter for the whole period of time, we're doing something different every week.  I pulled out my Nephite and as the kids passed off a song, we put an article of clothing on him.  We had two songs they didn't pass off and so they will be working on those next week.  It still amazes me how they sing some with such enthusiasm and others hardly at all. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Training Tips

When singing with the children, there are a few important tips:
1. Look at the children.
2. Smile
3. Cue them at the beginning of the song, and sing with them.

Look at the children at the beginning of the song.  It's better to memorize the song, but if you haven't, memorize the first line quickly right before you sing.  That way at the moment it's time to sing you can see the children and the pianist and cue them to begin.  Making eye contact is very important.
Looking down at the book doesn't tell the children when to begin and they are less likely to pay attention, because you aren't paying attention to them.
When holding visual aids it's still important to look at the children.  Memorize the song you are teaching.  If you forget a word or line look back at the poster or picture to remind yourself and then look back at the children.  If you spend the whole time looking at the poster you are singing away from them.  I have seen  children not begin to sing until halfway through the first line, because they didn't know when to start, their chorister was looking away.  Conducting at them is not enough.
Use magnets, clips or tape and put your visual aids up on the wall behind you so your hands are free, or check out a big easel from the library.  You can even hold a poster in one hand, or cards in front of you. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The subs get all the fun

It's time to start really working on our program which is coming up in September, but I need a sub for this Sunday so the kids may as well have a good time.  The songs are on the back of the leaves and birds and all of them are classic, fun songs.  I'm glad the kids get to have fun one more time before we spend five weeks prepping for the program.  I'll take a sub for the hard parts, I hate to miss a fun week. 

The Lord Gave me a Temple

I can tell I have been doing this for a while, all my visual aids are starting to look the same.  The pictures all come out of the Friend, or a picture pack.

I have actually been really excited to teach this song.  I taught it as a program song in the 90's and I really loved it.  It's fun to teach it again. 
 I know this song backwards and forwards but sometimes when I'm behind the card I don't know what I'm looking at so I scrawled the words on the back so I know where I am in the song (scrawled is pretty accurate too, I broke my arm and writing with a cast is a challenge).
A quick run through the laminator and I'm ready to go!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Handcart Song

This year we are singing for Sacrament Meeting (again) for Pioneer Day.  I chose To Be a Pioneer and The Handcart Song.  Since I broke my right arm I've really been making use of this PVC stand I have and taping all my visual aids to it.  I also taught the Oxcart song and the kids liked singing and marching slowly around the room pretending to be oxen.  It got them out of their seats doing something different.
This Sunday we are combining sharing and singing time to do a big pioneer activity outside.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Father's Day Singing Time

In years past I have always cut the ties of Dad's who come in to the room (having given them old ties to wear). This year I walked around the building taking pictures of Dad's hands and writing down their favorite primary song.  It's really easy and you can show the pictures on a laptop or tablet, or print them out.  The idea is to have the kids guess who's hands they are, and see if they can recognize their own Dad's hands. I also took pictures of the Bishop and his counselors.

Please see my other Father's Day posts!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Books in the Book of Mormon

This week, I taught the Books in the Book of Mormon Song.  I made up cards, one for each book (except for Jarom and Omni - totally off the subject I knew a Jarom, if you know one it's probably the same one).  The big flaw about the cards was that the song moves too fast to be flipping cards after each "book".  The kids picked it up super fast and they really loved singing it, but by the time they really got the song I was tossing the cards on the floor just to keep up with the kids.  Whew.  My recommendation is, if you make up cards for the song, put more than one book on each page.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

If I Listen With My Heart Sign Language

I have a really good friend in the ward who uses ASL at home and professionally.  She very kindly came over and went through the song with me.  She wrote down all the signs for me and then I turned on the music, aimed the camera at myself and did this.  It's the most awful video I have made (and I look pretty terrible too).  We've had someone sick in the house for the last few weeks, eventually I'll replace this with something not so hard on the eyes.  I'm not singing here, my throat was way too sore on the day I did this.  We only did the first verse, as I am going to use a soloist for the 2nd and 3rd verses.  The last two signs I repeated a few times, I hadn't gotten the timing right and I was practicing them.  You only have to do each sign once.

The signs in order go like this:

If I had been a little child when Jesus lived on earth
earth - Jesus - lived - if - I - became - child
I Would have liked to walk with Him and listen to His words
what do - walk with him - Jesus - gospel - me - listen
But as I search the scriptures I can hear His words of peace
scriptures - learn - Jesus - peace - I - understand
If I listen with my heart I hear the Savior's voice.
Pay attention - feel - spirit - inspiration

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Review Day for If I Listen With My Heart

I have been teaching "If I Listen With My Heart" with sign language.  I'm not doing it as detailed as last year, but it's still a lot of work for the kids.  There are some new teachers and kids in the primary and so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to use one of my favorite activities - snipping ties off of unsuspecting men in the ward.  I asked the missionaries a few days prior if they would please wear ties I provided and then use them in the activity.  I get old ties, or pick them up at the thrift store.  (These came from D.I., my favorite place).  I pulled them out of my bag and my husband asked where I had gotten these awful ties.  The uglier the better.
The missionaries put the ties on and graciously joined us about halfway through singing time.  I let them decide how well the kids sang the song, and then cut their companions tie.  They each cut about halfway and then we sang again.  One of the little boys sang so well I let him cut a missionaries tie.  He was so proud that he had out sung the older boys.  It was a lot of fun, and a great way to review the song by singing over and over.

At the end I had the missionaries pick a song to sing and we sang with them.  I had the missionaries conduct too.