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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, more welcome and birthday 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 play my annual "Name that Primary Song about Love" (find that HERE). It incorporates 10 songs that have the word "love" in them. The kids don't know some of the songs but 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 as well so the kids are reading and singing along.  With this activity, the kids will sing/hear 10 new songs.

This seasonal week is when we'll work on something to sing in sacrament meeting when we are asked including Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, etc.

Then near the end of the month, I take one week and try to do a fun review game 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 introduce the songs that we will be learning.  Find all those HERE.

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.

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

For opening exercises,  I like to rotate in primary songs that relate to that month's sharing time theme. Again, posting words as a lot of them can be unfamiliar.  I do put most 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 a lot of the songs we sing during opening exercises.  You can find my CD's HERE.

During my 20 minutes of singing time, I use a "wiggle worm jar" (find that HERE) which quickly and easily incorporates LOTS of singing in a fun way.  We sing for about 5 minutes each week either right when I start (or sometimes at the end, just depending on my time that day) 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 and welcome songs, I try to do the same birthday and welcome song per month. Then I go in order to the next song the next month until we've sung all of them that are in the book. Again, I always post words! Then I just start all over with the rotation.  So eventually we sing them all and I always post words to these as well.

Our primary sings what we call "scripture songs" and we include those as part of our opening exercises. 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 also rotate these songs monthly.

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 and it really helps the kids to sing out.  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 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 (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 (find all my Thanksgiving lesson plans HERE) and Christmas (find all my Christmas lesson plans HERE) songs.

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