Friday, September 23, 2011

So You Want to Lead Music? (Part 2)

Evaluate the musical style:
Younger children prefer easy-to-sing style songs. But don’t sell the children short---you might be surprised at how much a preschooler can learn. Often times a song that has a phrase the teacher sings and the children repeat is a good way to introduce a new song. Even at a young age children may have developed a strong preference for specific musical styles. From classical to country to pop to calypso, including a variety of styles helps engage more children.

Remember that learning the lyrics is as important as anything. This is not an area a teacher can “wing it” and hope for the best. A lack of preparation is not only flustering for a teacher, it short changes the children and robs them of a chance to enter in wholeheartedly.

Now that you have evaluated your lyrics and musical style it’s time to sing with your children! Presented here are some guidelines or tips to help you as you lead and a receive the most out of your musical time.

Introduce only one new song at a time—even if they are wonderful songs. It’s work to learn new music and lyrics, and worship time shouldn’t be hard work for children. Plus, when we’re focusing on learning new material, it’s hard to focus on God. Be careful not to overwhelm children with too many new things to learn at one time.

Teach the song in child-size bites.
You may be tired of hearing the same song over and over, however, many times the children can’t get enough of certain songs . When I do my family concerts, though I have many new songs I would like to sing, the most requested song is still a song about God’s creation called, “Hippopotamus.” The repetitive nature and descriptive hand motions bring the children to their feet learning God’s word and having fun at the same time. Also, be sure to incorporate a mix of “old favorites” and new songs so children have some input into the music time, too.

Use a CD/Cassette Player/Split Track
If you’re using a split-track CD or music tape check to see if you have a left and right channel on your player. You can use this to change the amount of vocals and or music in background. This will encourage the children to sing out and it frees you up to do the hand movements and participate with them.
Don’t underestimate proximity and environment

Children love to be close to the action, especially if you are playing an instrument. In a small group have them gather around you for your “circle time.” You might even want to bring a child up next to you and have them help you lead. This can be inviting for those children who love to participate.

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