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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

How to do it all??

It's always a battle finding time to "do it all" in singing time.  It can be a serious juggling act.  There's always the monthly program song to teach.  But only learning and singing one song a month can be very monotonous for both you and the kids.  And once taught, you have to review the songs throughout the year or else everything's all forgotten by program time.

Then how do you rotate in other songs relating to holidays or the current season?  The ward probably wants to hear you sing at least on Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day and Christmas, if not more often.  What if you want to learn the Article of Faith songs, or welcome songs? But then you may run the risk of singing a solo because the kids have never heard half of the new songs you want to sing and you don't have time to memorize every single song before you actually sing them.

It can become very overwhelming!  There are only 20 minutes {if you're lucky!} each Sunday! Not to mention the Sundays where we don't meet like General and Stake Conferences. Below are a few suggestions with how I've been able to find balance with this calling...

For starters, I only like to work on that month's program songs for 2 weeks of the month (sometimes only 1!).  It's usually not enough time to have the song 100% memorized but I'm totally okay with that.  I know that later on that month and closer to program time we'll have time for review.

I ALWAYS take one week every month and do something that has nothing related to the program.  It's usually something seasonal.  So, for instance, in February I theme a week around Valentine's Day (find my Valentine's Day lesson plans HERE).

Most of these lesson plans incorporate a variety of songs that we {hopefully} are unfamiliar with. Since the kids don't know some of the songs, I post words to everything so those who can read, can sing along. See how I post words HERE.

The non-readers will be listening to me and the teachers!  If I feel the need, I'll take it one step further and play the song on CD (or phone with a speaker) as well so the kids are reading and singing along.  With this activity, the kids will become familiar with a variety of songs that they otherwise wouldn't have been exposed to.

This "seasonal week" in singing time is when we are able to work on something to sing in sacrament meeting when we are asked including Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, etc.  You can find all my seasonal lesson plans by going to my Index tab HERE (which is also at the top of the page) and scrolling down toward the end of the post under the "Listing by Category" section.

Then near the end of the month, I take one week and try to do a fun review activity of all the program songs we've learned so far for the program.  If it's January and we've only learned one song for the month, I have Sing-A-Long videos to preview or introduce the songs that we will be learning.  Find all those HERE.

You can find my running list of review activities HERE (also a tab at the top of the page).

If there is a 5th Sunday, I usually do another review activity or get caught up from missed Sundays due to Stake and General conferences (or try to get ahead knowing they are coming up).

Not only do I divide my weekly singing time lesson plans, but I also utilize transition time and my 20-minutes of singing time to try to incorporate more into singing time.

With the new block schedule, there are 10  minutes of transition time between sacrament meeting and primary.  This is quite a bit of time for most of the kids to just be sitting there after they arrive in primary.  So why not use the last 5 minutes and sing?  I choose a welcome song and an opening song.  My opening song is either an Article of Faith song or a Books in the New Testament, Books in the Old Testament or Books in the Book of Mormon.

Find details on implementing Article of Faith songs HERE.  We'll sing these when we eventually study D&C with Come Follow Me.

And details on implementing Books in the New Testament HERE (I plan on doing the same thing for the Books in the Old Testament and the Books in the Book of Mormon when we eventually study those).


If sacrament meeting runs long, we just omit this.

Then during my 20 minutes of singing time I begin with what I call a scripture song.  I choose these songs that are suggested in Music for Singing Time but that we won't be singing in the program.  Since there are 2 suggested songs we won't be learning, I just rotate those weekly throughout the month (so we'll sing each one twice a month).  Again, posting words as needed.  I put all of these songs on a CD that we pass out every year at Christmas time for the kids.  So if they listen to the CD's at home, they will be familiar with the songs we sing.  You can find my CD's HERE.

During my 20 minutes of singing time, I use a "wiggle worm jar"  as needed (find details HERE) which quickly and easily incorporates LOTS of singing in a fun way.

We sing for maybe 5 minutes each week either right after our scripture song or sometimes at the end of singing time if I've got a few extra minutes (just depending on my time that day).  It's a great way to get everyone involved, get wiggles out or save a failing lesson plan (tell me I'm not the only one to occasionally have a flop!). 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, Sr. primary does it too and LOVES it!

With the new curriculum, we've stopped singing birthday songs to birthday kids.  Instead we now recognize them with a Golden Birthday ticket.  You can find more details HERE.




In September, when we have finished learning all the program songs, we spend the month reviewing all the program songs.  It's a great time to really reinforce what they've learned all year.  I usually incorporate a big review activity.  You can check out my program review activities HERE.

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. Most of the kids don't need the words as they've memorized them but it really takes the pressure off of me,  helps the kids to sing out and keeps their eyes focused on me.  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!  I've made it so what the kids see is what I see:

What is fabulous is when the program is over and you have a few months with no program pressure! We have our program usually mid October.  This gives me the rest of 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.  Check out some of my After-The-Program posts HERE.

November is obviously focused around Thanksgiving and fall.  Find those lesson plans HERE.

And December is Christmas.  Find all those lesson plans HERE.

Just in time to start over with the next year's program songs!

So I ask you, how do you do it all? Please comment if you have more ideas!

6 comments:

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!