Saturday, September 17, 2011

So You Want To Lead Music (Part 1)

Why is it that we can’t remember where we put our keys yet we can remember a song we sang as a small child? We can all go down “memory lane” from the songs we learned at a young age. I remember learning “Deep and Wide” from my Sunday School teacher as a little girl. I loved doing the motions and feeling a sense of accomplishment singing along. Little did I know that I was learning directional cues, spiritual concepts and having fun at the same time. Perhaps, as teachers, we’ll never know how these simple songs that we teach can truly impact these little lives for years to come. That is why I have been singing and leading young children in many different capacities for over 20 years.

Leading music with young children can be such an enjoyable experience and continues to be a valuable tool in our teaching experience. Sometimes it is the missing link in our classroom, I have seen a child that has separation anxiety (after their parent drops them off for school) able to be calmed through a simple praise song. Music can change a mood, calm a child’s fears or set the tone for the rest of the day. Songs will live in a child’s heart for years to come as well as affecting a child’s growth and development. On a much lighter side, it makes even those of us who are non-musical want to sing. Plus music is fun!

We all know that the real source of music and movement. Music delights our God, Rev. 5. In the same way that King Saul was pleased by David’s harp, Psalm 149 describes God delighting in His people as they worship and praise their creator. He has given us voices to sing and feet to dance! Plus, there is music in Heaven. John describes the throne room of God in the book of Revelation as he paints an incredible picture of elders bending before the Lamb singing a “new song.” Music is a form of expression from the creator Himself.

That is one reason your teaching time will be richer if you include a musical component, Another reason is that music makes Scripture passages memorable~ add a tune to a verse you want children to learn and they’re likelier to remember it.

Many of us, though, feel that we are not very musical and only “make a joyful noise” as the Bible says. However, I have seen the most non-musical person able to do wonders teaching and leading God’s word in song. Remember, that your voice probably sounds fine to the children listening and a leader’s enthusiasm will more than compensate for any shortfall in musical training or aptitude.

Preparing the music 
What do you want to accomplish with your time of music? Burn off energy in a fun, expressive way? Help children memorize a Bible story or scripture passage? It’s important to select music with your purpose in mind. When selecting music to accompany a Bible lesson, be intentional about the themes and mood of songs you select. Carefully use music that reinforces the point of your Bible lesson. It’s easy to let twenty minutes slip away doing fun motion songs only to discover there’s no time left to teach.

Introducing the songs by reading and briefly explaining scripture passage helps children make the connection between what they’re learning and what they are singing. Don’t assume the connection will be obvious---even to adults!

In addition to meeting your purpose, music must be age-appropriate. When it comes to selecting the appropriate songs, keep two things in mind:

Evaluate the Lyrics: Don’t assume that just because the song is for “preschool age” that it is necessarily right to sing. Choose songs that include few words or simple repetitive phrases. Songs that tell stories are usually great for young children, and they love to sing songs where they can move and express themselves through motions. These type of songs will help the children with other skills such as directional cues. For instance, “My God is here,” point to the ground or, “My God is up high,” point to the ceiling.

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