Wednesday, September 14, 2011

12 Steps for Teaching Music to Kids

1. Be confident and enthusiastic.
Never apologize for what you don't know, but instead try to approach each lesson with confidence. Whenever possible, speak to the children you are teaching at their level, bending down or kneeling if necessary. And remember, whatever you feel you might lack in musical ability, you can often make up for in your enthusiasm! (By the way, you'll feel more confident and excited about singing and leading if you first learn the lyrics to the songs!)

2. Have a routine, but be flexible. 
Children love to know what is happening next on the agenda, so plan ahead. For instance, have play time first, then singing, Bible memory, skit or story time, snacks, crafts, and so on. But be prepared to occasionally make adjustments to that schedule--like when you feel it's necessary to cut story time short because the kids have too many wiggles or when you want to extend singing time. In this way, being organized but flexible is important to making your time with the children go smoothly.

3. Use a variety of methods. 
Sing a song slow and then sing it fast. You can even sing in different accents, just for fun! Have a contest with one side of the room versus the other side to see who knows the hand motions and words best.

4. Don't give up on the quiet children. 
Don't worry about the children who won't participate or do the hand motions. Often the quiet children may still be absorbing everything you are singing or saying, and sometimes the worst thing you can do is draw attention to them. Don't take their lack of participation as disinterest. Simply smile at them and reinforce their presence.

5. Be creative when choosing songs to teach. 
It's important to select music with a purpose in mind, so be intentional about the themes and mood of the songs you select. Make sure you know what the main point of your Bible lesson will be and then leave time for a carefully chosen song that will teach and reinforce that point. (Also make sure you know the words and have them in front of you, just in case needed!) Some of my songs such as "Create in Me" bring children to worship and will quiet them before a lesson. Other songs which I have recorded are simply for fun. Remember, it is a good idea to introduce only one new song during the time you meet with the children.

6. Have a partner or helper. 
If you are trying to teach hand motions, think about having a helper. Remember that hand motions are not set in cement and it's okay if children want to make up their own. Often older elementary children enjoy leading up front and will feel more a part of the worship if you can use them to help teach the songs.

7. Minister beyond the classroom.
Have the children perform songs for their parents. Not only will teachers and families enjoy it, but the children's confidence will get an extra boost as well. You can even create your own special program by choosing songs with a theme and integrating Scripture. For instance, you may want to have a creation theme with songs like "God Did" and "Hippopotamus" and then have children quote Bible verses in between. When using your MP3 player or iPod, set the balance so the children's voices will be featured.

8. Think big!
Exaggerate whatever motions you are dong. If you are talking about way up high, stretch as far as you can reach. If you are describing something small, crouch down on the floor. Children will respond to your belief in what you are singing or describing!

9. Don't underestimate proximity and environment. 
Children love to be close to the action, especially if you are playing an instrument. If you have a big room and a little group, bring the children close around you or form a circle. (And don't forget, it's best to have as few distractions in the room as possible!)

10. Realize that affirmation is key. 
We all respond to encouragement. When the children are singing out, let them know they are doing a good job. For instance, when they are worshiping you might want to say, "I know that God is blessed by your worshipful voices!"

11. Remember children love to pray. 
Prayer is a great way to get boys and girls involved. You can sing a verse and then have each of the children pray a sentence prayer. Or if you have a microphone, let them say their prayers into the microphone. They'll love it! If you are talking about thankfulness, you can have them tell God what they are thankful for and then sing a song such as "It Is Good."

12. Ask God for direction.
Sometimes we get so caught up in all the things we need to do, we forget that the Holy Spirit is in charge of the agenda. We need to be prepared. however, it's not by might or by power, but by His Spirit that He guides us and helps us in ministering to boys and girls.

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