teaching

How to Create a Seamless, Joyful Experience for Your Preschool Choir

How to Create a Seamless, Joyful Experience for Your Preschool Choir

Sing this with me! (To the tune of “Oh, How I Love Jesus”)

Come and sing together,
Come and sing together,
Come and sing together,
It’s time to praise the Lord!

Clap your hands together,
Clap your hands together,
Clap your hands together,
It’s time to praise the Lord!

On the next verse, change the lyrics to add your own movement or hand motion idea! Better yet, ask a child in your class to suggest a motion, for example, “rub your hands together,” or “stomp your feet together.”

When I jump into preschool choir rehearsal or music class and see so many little eyes peering up at me in wonder, I realize I’m encountering a divine appointment.

How to Teach A New Hymn or Song to Your Congregation

How to Teach A New Hymn or Song to Your Congregation

You just found the perfect song to sing next month. It has a nice melody and the text ties in perfectly with the Scripture reading of the day and the sermon topic.

But, it's unfamiliar to the congregation.

And your congregation is particularly resistant to singing anything new, especially something not in the hymnal.

What's a music director to do?

How do you go about introducing a new hymn or song to your congregation? How do you teach it in a way that's meaningful and memorable (so they'll remember it next time you sing it)?

10 Ways to Develop Musicianship in Children's Choir [Video]

10 Ways to Develop Musicianship in Children's Choir [Video]

So, I've been thinking.

I believe our church music programs are a wonderful way to inspire people in their faith and teach them about who God is, but also to give them a place to learn about music and develop their musicianship.

I know it might seem optimistic, but with so many music programs being cut from schools, I think the church has a unique opportunity to provide children with experiences that help them grow as believers and musicians. I believe we can do both.

Today, I'm talking about what musicianship is and 10 practical things you can do to develop it little-by-little in your children's choir rehearsals all throughout the year.

I thought I'd mix things up today and share this post in video format, just for fun. I hope you enjoy it! (And, P.S. Be sure to watch to the end for an exciting announcement!)

How to Teach a Congregational Class or Workshop: Part II

How to Teach a Congregational Class or Workshop: Part II

Earlier this week, I shared helpful tools and resources for teaching a congregational class or workshop, including several ready-made classes and seminars and step-by-step directions for creating your own class or workshop (read it here, in case you missed it).

For those of you that may not have done something like this before, the idea of standing up in front of a room of people and talking may feel a little outside of your comfort zone. 

I get it. 

I mean, we’re musicians, right? Playing or singing in front of people is no big deal, but talking is a whole different story.

If teaching is new for you, here are a few practical tips for keeping your cool and creating a fun, meaningful, engaging learning experience for your participants.

How to Teach a Congregational Class or Workshop: Part I

How to Teach a Congregational Class or Workshop: Part I

Have you ever considered teaching a class or workshop?

Some of you may already do this - at a community music school, K-12 school, or local college or university. But, have you ever considered teaching members of your congregation?

Short-term classes, workshops, and mini-series are a great way to teach church members about music, worship, denominational history, etc. and help build a sense of community among the congregation.

Plus, if you plan a class that's several weeks long and happens to meet on Sundays, you may also (inadvertently) encourage regular attendance in worship.

If you love to read, research, and teach and you have curious congregation members who love to learn, this post is for you. Here's what you need to know:

75 Hymns that Teach Musical Concepts

75 Hymns that Teach Musical Concepts

"When we sing a hymn, we are singing history." - Paul Lusher (source) 

Hymn-singing is a tradition that spans the centuries, uniting us with believers in the past, present, and future. But I believe hymns are more than historical relics. Here are three primary things I think we can learn from hymns still today:

Church Heritage

There's so much history and tradition embedded in hymns. We carry on a piece of that legacy when we come together for worship and sing the same hymns that others have sung for hundreds of years. And at the same time, we're preserving important parts of music history: "Much of the musical heritage of the church is encountered in hymnology: such forms as plainsong, chorale, psalm tune, and gospel hymn." - Hanna Katja Elina Powell (source)

How to Teach Solfege in Children's Choir

How to Teach Solfege in Children's Choir

If you're like me, you first learned solfege from Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music. This film classic is still beloved today - it's a favorite among my elementary piano students!

So, why the funny syllables? What exactly is solfege and how do you use it?

First, a little history.

History

Solfege (doremi, etc.) is a method for introducing and teaching understanding of pitch and a system used for sight singing.

Solfege dates back to the 11th century and the work of music theorist Guido d’Arezzo. There are two primary solfege systems: fixed do and movable do.

In fixed do, syllables are assigned to pitches (e.g. do = C). In movable do, syllables assigned to scale degrees (e.g. do = 1st scale degree of major scale).

The Most Important Question I Ask In Teaching

The Most Important Question I Ask In Teaching

As teachers, we ask a lot of questions. But, did you know there are different kinds of questions (or ways of asking questions) that can actually promote learning? A good question does more than assess student learning or mastery of a concept; it can actually foster a deeper level of understanding, open a space for productive dialogue, and promote self-reflection.

This is important because, as music educators, we love nothing more than seeing people learn and grow, as individuals and as musicians.

There are two main types of questions: closed-ended and open-ended.

Here is a bit more about each one:

Closed-Ended Questions

These are questions that have a yes/no answer. This doesn’t promote a lot of deep thinking, as the answer is typically given in the question (e.g. "Is the bottom line of the treble staff an E?") and the learner has a 50/50 chance of getting the answer right. These types of questions work well for younger students when you're comparing things, though I would rephrase the question to, “Were those the same or different?”

How to Channel Your Inner Five-Year-Old

How to Channel Your Inner Five-Year-Old

I love working with five-year-olds. I love their creativity, their fearlessness, their willingness to try new things, their crazy imaginations, and the way they make everything silly and fun. Five just might be my favorite age.

Some suggest that thinking like a five-year-old is beneficial for creativity, leadership skills, and growing a business (source). After all, five-year-olds are about as creative as they come (try asking one to explain why the sky is blue). Next time you need a fresh spark of creativity or you want to see the world from a new perspective, channel your inner five-year-old. Here's how:

Ask questions. Have you been around a five-year-old lately? They ask lots of questions. Want to challenge the status quo? Ask more questions. Want to understand the heart behind that decision? Ask more questions. Want to create something unique and innovative? Ask more, well, you know.

Teaching Hymns to Children - Part II

IMG_1216.jpg

hymns, hymnody, teaching, children, singing, church music, worship, church service, choir, choir rehearsal, tradition, children's choir Now that we've talked about some considerations for teaching hymns to children, here are a few ideas for hymn selection and ways to incorporate them into worship:

HYMN SELECTION

Range considerations • Choose hymns that fall in a comfortable singing range for children (typically, no lower than D above Middle C and no higher than Treble D)

Repetition and variety • Find opportunities in hymns to teach the children about musical form: AABA, ABA, verse/chorus

Good text • Connect the hymns you choose to an overall theme, Scripture reference, or season of the church year • Give children an opportunity to sing in another language: German, Latin, Spanish, Zulu, Cherokee, etc.

SUGGESTIONS

1. Have children process into the service during the opening hymn 2. Plan a joint choir anthem with adult choir, children's choir, and handbells for a special service (ex. We Gather Together) 3. Create a special music slot for a children's choir anthem before the children's message 4. Plan a hymn festival to celebrate the church's legacy of hymn-singing

How have you used hymns with your children's choir? Have any other suggestions not mentioned here? Please leave a comment below!

Image Credit: personal

Previously: Teaching Hymns to Children - Part I