Top 10 Posts of 2018

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It’s that time of the year! Here’s a look at 2018, by the numbers:

It’s always fun for me to look back on the year and see which blog posts were your favorites. Here’s a look at the top 10 posts from 2018 (in rank order):

Top 10 Posts of 2018

No. 1 - 36 Ways to Use Rhythm Pattern Cards in Your Teaching (+ a free 16-card set!)

Rhythm pattern cards are a great way to teach new rhythmic concepts, reinforce familiar patterns, and build that all-important music vocabulary (the ability to understand and create your own musical patterns and sequences). 

I’ve found that having a few sets of rhythm pattern cards on hand can be so helpful in teaching to capture the attention of young learners and help them grasp new concepts (and have fun while doing it!). Read more >>

No. 2 - How to Start a Handbell Choir (with Zero Experience)

So, you want to start a handbell choir. The only problem is, you don't know the first thing about ringing and your ringers are mostly newbies without a whole lot of previous musical experience. What's a want-to-be handbell choir director to do?

The good news is you don't need to have a lot of experience or professional training to lead and direct a handbell choir (though, that never hurts). With a desire to learn, a solid sense of rhythm and steady beat, and a little practical know-how, you'll be on your way to building and leading a handbell choir in no time. Read more >>

No. 3 - Signs & Symbols of the Church (and What They Mean)

Have you ever wondered what those letters on the altar stand for? What is the significance of the symbols in the stained glass windows? Why is a fish a symbol of our Christian faith, and what does a peacock have to do with anything? Yes, the church is full of sacred signs and symbols that tell us about our past - our history - and inform our faith. Each one has some significance and connection to our faith, and each one represents a time in history, a story, a body of believers.

In this post, I'm delving into church history to share the meaning behind 20 different signs and symbols you might see around your sanctuary (or those you visit). Read more >>

No. 4 - 6 Strategies for Helping a Child Discover Their Singing Voice

Everyone is born with some level of music aptitude, or potential to succeed in music. But, according to church musician and educator, Helen Kemp, 17% of children need help finding their singing voices. These are the children who often sing with a very limited range, default to chanting low in the voice instead of singing, and/or have trouble matching pitch. This does not indicate a lack of skill or potential, but simply a lack of experience and vocal development.

How can you help? Here are six practical strategies for helping a child discover their singing voice and learn to sing tunefully: Read more >>

No. 5 - A Quick Tip for Transposing at Sight (for Piano Accompanists Everywhere)

Have you ever been rehearsing an anthem with your choir and thought, "If only this were a half-step lower,or practicing a song for Sunday and thought, "This feels a little low. I wish I had it in a higher key.”?

Transposing, or playing/singing something in another key (e.g. moving the notes of a piece up or down by a certain interval) is a practical and at times, very useful skill for all church musicians, teachers, and accompanists to have. But, it’s not one that we spend a lot of time talking about or practicing in music school (as a classical musician, at least). Here’s a quick, easy tip for transposing at sight: Read more >>

No. 6 - Your Go-To Guide for Using Boomwhackers with Your Choir

Looking for a fun way to reinforce rhythm and steady beat, play melodies, and introduce harmony to your children’s choir? Let me introduce you to Boomwhackers. 

For those of you who may be wondering, Boomwhackers are color-coded, plastic percussion tubes, tuned to musical pitches. They create sound when struck against another surface. Hold the tube in one hand and tap it on your open palm. Tap two together, or tap one on your head or shoulders or knees. Tap it on the floor, a table, or the seat of a chair. Here’s how you can use them with your choir: Read more >>

No. 7 - The Introverted Choir Director: 8 Tips for Survival

Author Susan Cain noted that according to some of the latest research, "One third to one half of us are introverts – that’s one out of every two or three people you know. But you’d never guess that, right? That’s because introverts learn from an early age to act like pretend-extroverts." (source) Can you relate?

Those of you who teach or lead or direct in some way may feel energized after being up in front of a group of people (extrovert side of the spectrum) or drained and craving alone time (introvert side of the spectrum), but regardless of how you may feel on the inside, you may feel as if you need to pretend to be energized to portray strong leadership skills.

But, being an introvert doesn’t mean you are inferior and it doesn’t mean you can’t lead or teach or direct just as well as those who are more extroverted. The secret is to use your natural strengths (a.k.a. secret weapons). Read more >>

No. 8 - How to Recruit New Choir Members This Fall

The beginning of a new choir year is a perfect time to invite and recruit a few new members. Sounds great, except for that recruiting part, right? I mean, no wants to come off sounding salesy or desperate (“Pleeease join us - we could really use some new singers!”).

The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way. Instead of thinking about selling people on all the reasons why choir is so great or feeling like you need to twist people’s arms to get them to join, focus on identifying the people within your congregation (and maybe even the community) who like to sing and want to be part of a choir and extending a warm and welcoming invitation to them. Here are five tried-and-true approaches to try: Read more >>

No. 9 - Top 25 Favorite Anthems for Intergenerational Choirs

There’s something special about an intergenerational choir: the coming together of people of all ages and walks of life to share music and lift their voices in song. It sends a message of unity and inclusivity and I think it gives us a little glimpse of what heaven might be like, singing in the angel choir. Looking to put together an intergenerational choir at your church? Here are 25 choral anthems that work well for intergenerational choirs, organized by voicing: Read more >>

No. 10 - 2018 Book List

One of my favorite things about beginning a new calendar year is choosing which books I want to read in the coming months.

I like to read one book at a time and one book per month seems to be a good pace for me. I also like to read slowly and take notes as I go (these are my favorite journals for book notes) so I can go back and review the highlights later. I lean toward books that challenge me to think in a new way or look at the world from a new perspective; books that teach me something or inspire me or help me grow in some area of my life.

Looking for ideas for what to read next year? Here’s what was on my 2018 book list: Read more >>

P.S. Stay tuned - I’ll be posting my 2019 Book List after the New Year!

What was your favorite post from this year?

In case you’re curious, here are the Top 10 posts from the last few years:

2017 Top Ten
2016 Top Ten
2015 Top Ten
2014 Top Ten