In search of new repertoire or teaching ideas for your choir? Need a few games ideas for the next rainy Wednesday night? Looking for resources for starting a children's choir program?
Whether you're new to choir-directing or you've been doing it all your life, we all need new ideas and fresh resources every now and again.
Today, I'm sharing a rich and varied collection of some of my favorite children's choir tools and resources - everything from devotions to gathering activities, warm-ups and games to repertoire and curriculum ideas, rehearsal-planning tools, resources for building a choir program, and more.
Devotions are an important part of church choir rehearsals, as they help center our hearts and minds on the true reason for our singing. Devotions also offer a wonderful way to connect to the stories young singers hear and learn about in children's time and Sunday School.
Here are a few to consider:
Grace for the Moment: 365 Devotions for Kids (Max Lucado)
Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions for Kids (Sarah Young)
Children's Choir Prayers
Five-Minute Bible Devotions for Children (Pamela Kennedy/Anne Kennedy Brady)
Growing in Grace Devotionals (correlated with the curriculum - see below)
The One-Year Devotions for Preschoolers
Perfect for the early-birds who arrive early for rehearsal, or as a quick change-of-pace in the middle, these gathering activities are easy to prepare and facilitate and reinforce several important musical concepts:
Both practical and useful, warm-ups help prepare body, voice, and mind for singing. Here are a few exercises geared toward young singers with focus on breath, posture, tone, vowel production, and diction.
Warm-ups for Young Singers (SFFS Children's Chorus)
Help with Matching Pitch (forum)
The Ultimate Guide to Children's Choir Warm-Ups
The Art of the Vocal Warm-up (Indianapolis Children's Choir)
Vocal Exploration Cards (free!)
Children love games and when they're easy to plan and fun to play in rehearsal and they help develop musical skills, directors love them, too! Here are some of my favorite (musical) games for choir rehearsal:
If you have room in your budget, purchasing a comprehensive children's choir curriculum will save you tons of planning and preparation time and may help you teach more effectively. Most of the curricula below include songs and anthems, movement activities, audio recordings and accompaniment tracks, teaching plans, digital resources, devotions, Scripture verses, and promotional materials.
(*Note: I haven't used any of these curricula personally, but I attended a Growing in Grace workshop last summer and was very impressed by the quality of the music, the comprehensive nature of the materials, and the strong connection to music education. I highly recommend it!)
Growing in Grace (Preschool, Younger Elementary, Older Elementary)
CMS Radical Retro Ride (Preschool, Younger Elementary, Older Elementary)
Children's Worship Series (Younger Elementary, Older Elementary)
Voice for Life
Shout Praise Kids Curriculum Series
If you don't use a pre-planned curriculum with your choir (or if you want to supplement the one you use), here are a few of my favorite music resources and collections:
The Joy of Part-Singing (Mark Patterson)
Can't Wait to Sing! (Younger Elementary) and Can't Wait to Sing! 2 (Middle and Upper Elementary)
Top 50 Favorite Anthems for Children's Choir
Sing Together, Children! (Madeline Bridges)
Viva la Musica round (free!) (Praetorius)
Seven Songs for the Church Year (Choristers Guild)
150 Rounds (Edward Bolkovac/Judith Johnson)
This Little Light of Mine (arr. Jenifer Cook - free!)
2014 Reading Session Picks: Children's Choir
Whether you're a teacher by trade or not, teaching is an important part of directing a children's choir. From introducing children to rhythm and meter to shaping musical phrases to talking about dynamics and understanding melody and harmony, there are lots of opportunities for music teaching and learning in the choir rehearsal.
Here are a few places to start:
Staying inspired is a crucial part of everything we do as musicians: we bring our best selves to our work only when we are refreshed and inspired. Here are a few inspirational books and podcasts geared specifically toward church musicians and choir directors:
Hearts & Hands & Voices: Growing in Faith Through Choral Music (Sue Ellen Page)
Lifeline for Children's Choir Directors (Jean Ashworth Bartle)
Eight Podcasts for Church Musicians
Of Primary Importance, No. 1 and No. 2 (Helen Kemp)
Books for Church Musicians
Looking to start or build a children's choir program at your church? Here are some useful tips, strategies, and ideas for getting started:
Building a Children's Choir: Getting Started, Planning, and Choosing Music
How to Plan a Children's Choir Rehearsal + Free Rehearsal-Planning Template
Helpful Advice for First-Time Children's Choir Directors (forum)
Building a Successful Children's Choir Program
Creative Choir Attendance Incentive Ideas That Work (forum)
What are your favorite children's choir resources?
*Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you purchase through them, Amazon.com will pay me a small fee for referring you to them at no extra cost to you. Win-win!