Tuesday, February 7, 2012

How to do it all??

This question was posted by Aprilyn, a member on Yahoo Groups:

"It seems my kids don't know that many songs, but how many songs is it good to try to teach each week? I want to teach Feliz Cumpleanos and The Books in the Book of Mormon. I'd also love to do a few more verses in Book of Mormon Stories, but I don't know how to balance the time. What is your schedule like? How do you balance between working on the song of the month, and making sure they don't forget last month's song, and then trying to do different songs too? I just don't get it."

I responded to this question on Yahoo Groups but also wanted to put my response here for anyone who isn't a member (if you are not a member of Yahoo Groups, do it! You are missing out on a valuable resource!! Find Details HERE):

"I think you asked a very valid question - how many songs IS good to try to teach each week? We as choristers, I think, can over do it when we just drill program songs - so boring and there is so much more to sing! But then, kids still need to know those 8 songs by the end of the year. How DO you find balance?

What I've found works best for me is I take 2 weeks a month that are dedicated to learning that month's program song. Then I ALWAYS take a week off and do something that has nothing related to the program. The 4th week I try to do a fun review game of all the program songs we've learned so far for the program. If there is a 5th Sunday, I've asked to have the entire Primary time. There I usually incorporate again, all the program songs and try to add in a few other "wiggle songs" or songs from past outlines into some sort of game or activity.

This month since it's Valentine's Day, I'm doing my yearly "Name that Primary Song about Love" activity this Sunday (find that HERE). It will incorporate 10 songs that have the word "love" in them. The kids don't know some of the songs but I'll post words to everything so those who can read, can sing along. The non-readers will be listening to me and the teachers! With this activity, the kids will sing/hear 10 new songs.

I'll admit, I never sing the program songs as opening/closing songs. I like to rotate in all the other primary songs that go along with that month's sharing time theme. Again, posting words as a lot of them can be unfamiliar.

If you've read my blog, you know about my "wiggle worm jar" (find that HERE). I have about 15 wiggle/fun songs and we sing maybe 1 or 2 (okay, sometimes 5!) of those each week right when I start into my singing time. It's a great way to get everyone involved and get their wiggles out all while singing a variety of other songs. When I first started it, it was intended for Jr. only but Sr. saw the jar and wanted to know what it was...needless to say, the Sr. primary does it too and LOVES it!

As for birthday songs, I try to do the same birthday song per month. Then I go in order to the next song the next month until we've sung the 6 or so that are in the book. Again, I always post words! Then I just start all over with the rotation. We're doing Feliz Cumpleanos, 1st verse only this month (2nd verse next month) and most of the kids don't know it but I just belt it out and they read and sing along with me. I think this is the 3rd round for this song and we're still learning it. I tell the kids that some of them may go on missions to some of these places and knowing how to say "happy birthday" in that particular language may come in handy one day!!

Our primary sings what we call "scripture songs" and we include those as part of our opening exercises (where we sing to visitors, sing to birthday kids, etc.) and this is where I've been able to sing Books in the Book of Mormon/Old Testament/New Testament and Article of Faith songs. I just rotate these songs monthly on an as-need basis. If I feel the kids can sing the song without words, then I'll rotate to a new song the following month (we've been singing the Old Testament song for a few months now - it's a bear!).

Come program time, I post words to almost ALL the songs - [GASP] I know! I hang my binder over the edge of my music stand and the congregation has no idea I've got words posted and the kids all look my way - amazing how it works. It also helps those part-time kids sing who don't come to church on a regular basis. I figure if the Mormon Tabernacle Choir can use their music, so can my little primary kids!

What is fabulous is when the program is over and you have a few months with no program pressure! We have our program the end of September so I have October, November and December to sing whatever I want and I love it! October I usually pick non-holiday songs that I want the kids to learn (last year we learned the song Saturday and Oh What Do You Do in the Summertime because my kids didn't know those classics!). Then November and December I focus my time on Thanksgiving and Christmas songs.

Wow, this got lengthy! Good luck, I hope you can find something that works for you so you can sing a variety of primary songs and still be prepared for the program at the end of the year!!"


So I ask you, how do you do it all? Leave some comments if you have more ideas!


Tracy said...

Camille thank you for all of these great ideas! I can't wait to try posting some words to help my kids out. I was wondering if there is anyway you would share with us your file with the words in it. I know we can get them off the church's website, but if you've already converted them into a document that would save a lot of time. Thank you!

Camille said...

Tracy, I'll be honest...I haven't saved ONE document! I should, and I think I will start. I'm not good at posting documents online yet either but I'll look into it. Thanks for the tip!! If anyone wants to lead me in the right direction, please do!

Aprilyn said...

Thanks for posting your answer here. I missed it in the mess of emails. :) I'm trying to be more organized. It doesn't come naturally to me.

Rachel said...

This is such a great post! I was just called as a music leader and found your blog today. I've been perusing and have found so many useful things (wiggle jar, CD challenge, love them!), but this post is gold for me. I was overwhelmed with where to start but this gives me a great framework!

Chris and Kristy said...

Thanks so much for this post! You are an angel. This really helps me in my thinking and helps to organize my thoughts each month. I really appreciate the time you take to post. Kristy

Shanda said...

I love this! Thank you! I'm 5 months into my calling and wanting the kids to know more songs! This is perfect! Thanks for your fun ideas! I love the wiggle worm! So cute!