Remember, before you teach, to give the pianist the songs ahead of time. Also, pray for the spirit to be with you!
Tips on how to teach a song:
1. BE CONFIDENT. So you're not the best singer. So what? Practice. Ask for help. Or maybe you're a great singer but being in front of a bunch of children who are adorably cute makes you nervous. You are amazing. You are awesome!! You can do this!!!
2. KNOW THE SONG. Know the melody, know ALL the words. How can you expect to teach a song that you haven't practiced or do not know? It doesn't have to be perfect and you'll probably make mistakes. But it is better to have a song semi-memorized than holding a big bulky book and looking confused. Sing in the shower, sing in the car, sing on elevators??, sing a word on each stair you climb... teach your family, teach anyone willing, then teach at Primary! Yes. This takes some time. God will bless you. Do you have a special experience with this song? Share the story with the children before you learn it.
3. GO OVER THE MELODY.
What does the song sound like?
- Have the pianist play through the melody. Let children hum along. They can also sing vowel sounds like oooo, aah, or eee, and switch off throughout the song.
- Have the children see if they can clap (or tap on knee) the rhythm while you sing the melody. Rhythm sticks are an excellent tool to use while learning the melody of a song... you could even use 2 pencils to tap together!
- You could have a guest come in to sing it. For younger children, have them conduct their hand while the person is singing. Remember, sitting for large amounts of time is HARD!! And not necessary.
What are the words?
- Have visuals with PICTURES. Let the children hold the visuals!! You do not need to have every word written to the song on visuals because a good chunk of your little ones can't even read yet! Plus, half the time you can't see the words printed out. It's the pictures that they will need to associate with learning. KEY WORDS along with pictures are great!
- If you don't have visuals, use hand movements!!! Have a few children up front to do hand movements with you!
- Sometimes dress up will work. Or toys. You can even have visuals that hang around the neck like a necklace. Don't limit yourself to just a flip chart!*
- I write all the words on the back of the visual for me so if I get stuck, they are there, instead of me having to run back to the book.
4. TEACH SMALL PHRASES OF WORDS AT A TIME. Sing the phrase. Have the children repeat. Listen carefully to see if the children are getting it. Do you hear everyone singing? After a few phrases, go back to the beginning and sing it through up to what you have learned. The pianist can just play the melody while you are learning.
5. BE POSITIVE!!!! Tell the children what a wonderful job they are doing. Thank them for all their help. Thank them for listening and working so hard. Use your words to build them up, not tear them down.
6. DO NOT SPEND TOO MUCH TIME ON THE SAME SONG!!! Opinions may vary, but anything over 8ish minutes seems brutal for one song. There is so much wonderful music in the Children's Songbook. Of course you want to have children learn the song, but if you spend a small amount of time each week, it will come.
Sing a phrase and leave out a word. Sing a phrase and have them sing the next! Put in a silly word and have them sing it the right way.
Once you have learned a song, there are many ways to review it! Here are a few simple ideas.**
1. Hot/Cold - is your song about love? Have a heart for a child to hide in the room. Let another child go outside while they hide. When they come back in, the primary sings loud if the person is close to the heart, soft if they are far away.
2. Special Pointer- It could be as simple as a stick. One primary friend comes up front to point to which side of the room will sing. The primary has to watch carefully and be ready!!
3. Zipper Words- Have a pencil case with a zipper. Have a child choose a word from the song to zip our lips to! Is the word ALL? Zip it in the pouch (pretend) and don't sing on ALL!
4. Stop/Go- Have a red and green circle. Invite a primary child to hold them up. On red, no singing. On green, sing.
5. Staccato- sing it short and choppy.
6. Ribbon sticks- Sing smooth and flowing. Good to use after you sing staccato.
7. Sing the song backwards- Stand up and face the back of the room. Ha ha!!
8. Yoga Pose Singing- Balance while you sing.
9. I SPY- Have special glasses for special children who can sing and spy at the same time. If they saw someone singing the WHOLE SONG, then they can have that person come up front to wear the glasses and spy the next time we sing.
10. NO PIANO- The primary pianist comes up front with her fingers playing the air either high or low. Children play the air piano also while they sing and move their hands high or low just like the pianist.
Read THIS to really feel the spirit and gain a stronger testimony of the importance of music.
* Flip charts are not my personal favorite. Flip charts are "YOU". But singing time is about "THEM". I really like having children stand up front holding signs because it gets them moving. After singing through once, children can choose another primary friend to hold the sign. It gives them the chance to figure out the order of the words for the song again, so you're sneaking in extra word practice! Remind children the behavior expected while holding a sign- keeping the sign to themselves, steady, and singing while holding!
** Some songs are more reverent in nature. Be aware and don't use review methods that would detract from the spirit of that song... for example, stomping during I Stand All Amazed.