Music for children: Plan ahead

In teaching music to children 4-7 years old, preparation is vital, said Ruth Gardner in a class on techniques for teachings songs to children.

Sister Gardner, former member of the Primary General Board and a specialist in children's music, suggested these steps in preparation:

Study the words.

  • What gospel message or principle do I want the children to learn from singing this song?
  • What words will I need to explain or pronounce?
  • What key words or phrases will help the children learn the song quickly? (words that rhyme or indicate chronological order)
  • What teaching aids or actions do the words suggest?
  • What personal experiences could I relate that would bear testimony of the message?

Study the music.

  • What is memorable about the melody? (repeated patterns, shape or unusual intervals)
  • What rhythm patterns make the song interesting?
  • How many phrases are in the song? Are any alike?
  • What words are given musical emphasis? (high or low notes, holding, slowing down, verse/chorus)
  • How could the mood marking and tempo add to the feeling of the song?

Plan the song presentation.

  • Use an attention-getter that focuses on the main message of the song.
  • Direct the children's listening through questions and activities that challenge the children's thinking.
  • Involve the children in singing with a plan that involves more singing than talking.
  • Bear testimony of the message of the song.

Practice the plan.

Prepare spiritually by asking in prayer for the influence of the Spirit.