teaching an old dog new tricks.

by @according2kelly on May 14, 2008

years ago i came to grips with the fact that i am not musically talented, in any way. which was definitely a sad, hard thing for me to admit, seeing how i come from an incredibly musically talented family. my great aunt sang in a world famous choir for years, my grandpa (& at least one cousin) can play any song by ear on the piano, each & every one of my aunts, & most of my cousins have beautiful voices, as well as the ability to play numerous instruments. and then there’s me… i definitely got the short end of the stick. & it’s not for a lack of trying. i took piano for years, performed in numerous school musicals & participated in the school choir through out my elementary school years. only later did i realize, that singing was not something i could really “learn” to do, & short of my fairy god mother granting my wish, i knew that my dreams of becoming a broadway star would probably never come true.

fast forward a few dozen years to today… and although i still haven’t developed my musical talents, some one must have thought it would be a funny joke to ask me to be the chorister for the children, at the church i attend. you can imagine how overwhelmed & under qualified i feel. i can’t sing, i don’t know how to lead music & i have no idea how i’m going to teach & help a group of children ages 4-11 learn & memorize a large number of songs that they will be performing been busying myself – crash courses in reading & leading music ( in front of our congregation later this year. other than the fear, & worry that i will be terrible, i’m actually quite excited. i think this could be a really fun & exciting opportunity. i just hope i can relate to the kids, that we can have a lot of fun, & that both the kids & i learn a thing or two along the way. so i’ve been busying myslef – crash courses in reading & leading music (i’m getting better, however, if i miss a beat… then i’m in trouble), i’ve been scouring the internet for games to play, & i’ve talked to lots of lots of musically inclined people. but i’d love any & all advice that you feel like sharing. any help you could offer, in regards to music or teaching children, would be greatly appreciated.

so maybe i won’t ever play the lead in a broadway play, but hopefully, i’ll be able to make each child i work with feel like a star in their own right. wish me luck!

31 comments
natalie
natalie

I'm a sunbeam teacher and those kids need visual aids or sign language (even if you make it up as you go) to go along with the songs or they lose interest and have no idea what the words are. SO always have something visual.Good luck!

Laurie
Laurie

That would be a tough calling for me as well. I feel your pain. Good luck and I know you'll through yourself into and do an amazing job!

CathyB.
CathyB.

you are already doing a fantastic job!! My kids love singing time! Thanks for all you do.

twoderful days
twoderful days

I know how you feel. I had this calling a few years ago and I thought they were out of their minds for calling me to this position. I absolutely cannot sing, especially the high notes often found in the Children's Songbook. It was fun, though, and I figured if they didn't want to listen to me try to sing anymore, they can call someone else. I was sad when we moved away because I just loved those kids.This website has a lot of great ideas: http://www.sugardoodle.net/mambo/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1063&Itemid=5Also, find out if any of the kids play an instrument. Some of the songs have a descant (see "I Am a Child of God" as an example) written especially for voice or instrument.Good luck and have fun with the kids!

TravelinOma
TravelinOma

I've had this calling 5 different times, and it's my very favorite. It's more of a musical sharing time. The chorister is key to having a fun primary.

2happy+2
2happy+2

What a nice surprise to see you came to visit me. It is always nice to meet your fellow bloggers. As for your new calling, I can tell you kids love to play games during singing time. Poster games and matching the song games. Anything different they love. After they get to know you as their singing leader they will love you. Kids are just that way. Don't you wish adults were as forgiving and as loving?

Becoming Me
Becoming Me

OK...how do you know my life story??? :-)

crystal
crystal

Oh...I feel your pain, sista. I am so un-musical and if I got called to be the song leader I think I'd die of an anxiety attack. Good Luck!

Leslie
Leslie

i was gonna say, too, join that yahoo group. it was priceless for me while i was chorister. you really don't need to know how to lead music correctly to do primary. i used my hands mostly for doing silly hand signals and made-up sign language, which is especially helpful with junior primary kids. you'll be fine, just keep em in line, that was my biggest challenge. those big kids can just be way too cool sometimes. :)

Wendi
Wendi

I have written about a similiar problem. I too have very musically talented family members... and Me? I got nothing.I am teaching music to preschoolers and I have filled in a lot for Primary. I think the biggest thing is to have fun with it. They are too young to know you can't sing....atleast that is what I keep telling myself. They just feed off your enthusiasm. Thanks for visiting my blog. I always love to "meet" new readers or those that stumble upon me by chance. Good luck with the music gig. I will be happy to help in any way I can. Remember: I am not musically inclined.

Jessica
Jessica

Okay, Primary Chorister was my favorite calling EVER. And I have a friend who says it's the most important calling in the church because what do you remember from your time in Primary? Not the lessons, not your teachers--the songs. The songs mixed with those sweet little kids brought the best feeling to my Sunday. Good luck!(There is a Yahoo group called Primusic that had lots of good ideas. Go check it out.)

Mahina
Mahina

isn't it great when you get a calling at church that will stretch you beyond what you wanted to be stretched! this reminds me of 2 years ago when my husband and i were called to teach swing dancing to the youth for their dance festival. i thought, "this has to be a joke, right?" not only was i pregnant, but i don't dance! i am miss uncoordination (i love the gym, but when it comes to classes i avoid anything aerobics because it's too confussing to have to do hands and feet at the same time!). my husband is even worse than me!we survived and you will too! you must have more talent than you think! it's somewhere in there just waiting to be called out! have fun!btw, thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting!

Jan
Jan

Oh, I love love love this calling -- and my advice is simply to learn the music well before you try to teach it, learn to know the children's names and love them, and help them recognize when they are feeling the spirit through the music. It's such a gift to be with them when that happens. I too can be reached through my blog -- you will be great.

Mom2fur
Mom2fur

Hi, again. Just wanted to lyk I'm doing a 400 post giveaway on my blog if you'd like to visit!

Kathi D
Kathi D

My mom's family was very musical--al her brothers played dozens of instruments and the girls sang. Mom always said the only thing she could play was the radio. But I think there was some musicality hidden in there.You have more than you think, too, I'll bet.

kathryn
kathryn

i loved being the primary chorister! it's a fun, fun calling. i was just released from that calling and i really do miss it, the kids LOVE singing time in primary. and it's so fun to incorporate games and stuff. you probably already know, but you can go to about.com and search "singing time". it will bring up all sorts of fun ideas. also, yahoo groups has a singing time community, as well. some of the games my primary kids loved were: Primary Idol (choose 3 Primary teachers to be Simon, Paula and Randy and they judge while individual classes sing, only girls sing, or only boys sing, etc.); Primary Hospital (give each teacher a bunch of small, round, red stickers. when the kids in their class sing well, they catch the singing bug and the teacher puts the little red stickers on their arms and faces); and Sing or Dare (chosen kids come up front and choose an unmarked envelope that contains either a song for the Primary to sing, or a Dare for the child to complete alone.)Anyway, I'm sure with all your creativity you'll come up with some awesome ideas. sorry this comment is so long! good luck!

Polly
Polly

My favorite calling in all the world! You;ll do great! Just be enthusiastic and make the kids sing LOUD and will be really fun.

gab
gab

You can do it Kelly! It's all about entertaining the kids and giving 'em lots to do. I love love love this calling...and just found out I won't have it too much longer. So enjoy it...it's the best!

kristen
kristen

When they called me to be the sacrament meeting chorister i about died! i would have rather been the primary chorister at that point...but that was a while ago and now i teach sunbeams so i get to be in primary each week-the chorister in my ward doesn't lead the best, and is really off tune, but she is so goofy and hilarious that it's good entertainment every sunday (if you suck being the chorister, you could at least hope to be entertaining, right haha) she has fun visual aids and finds way to get lots of "helpers" involved-they love being able to stand up and hold things! Also, she encourages them to sing "not loud, but STRONG!" I'm sure you will be great, so don't worry too much!

Amy Jorgensen
Amy Jorgensen

LOVED my time as primary chorister. At first I couldn't lead music, and instead, I just used my hand to show if the melody went up or down -- I would lay my hand out flat, and go up or down, depending on where the melody was going. It helped the kids learn the tunes to those songs they didn't know. That, and lots of different permutations of "come up and pick a flower and it has a name of a song we will sing on the back" -- that worked well for little kids.

ashli
ashli

thanks for stopping by and leaving word....now that i have come here to blogstalk i am wishing you would have come to BP and that we could have met. i love your blog and how you just say it how it is. i will be back to check out all your tips and fun blog.

mama jo
mama jo

you will be great...because you're great at whatever you do....plus, you've got the right idea...as long as the kids relate to you, you have it made...i have always loved new callings for the things that i learn from them...just have fun with it...

Tina
Tina

Music is what makes Primary so great! So just make it fun. I don't have a ton of memories of Primary as a little girl because I wasn't there much but I have never forgotten the music. You will be helping this children learn songs that they will remember their entire lives. Lucky YOU!!!! Have fun!

TopHat
TopHat

My advice (and I know you don't need this advice because you're wonderful) is to encourage the children to sing as much as they would like. I had a Primary chorister tell me that I was singing too loud and it was ruining the song once when we were practicing for the Primary Program. I lost all my confidence in singing because of that. But I'm sure you'll be great.

stephanie
stephanie

oh kelly, you will be great! you will be so creative and make singing time so much fun! the kids don't care if you can't sing or lead music.

Ashlee
Ashlee

Thankfully, I have never been given that calling. {knock on wood} Our chorister is the same as you. She has no idea how to lead..but no one cares. She uses her hands in different ways. Holding pictures to help prompt the kids on the next phrase to sing, or actions to help the kids remember. She does a fabulous job. So will you!

Traci
Traci

You will do great! Just be yourself and if you goof, it's ok, since kids are the most forgiving. It's good to let them see us adults goof-up, we are only human too! I am the Primary President in my ward and believe me, I don't feel like a know everything in the scriptures and sometimes the kids teach me!Thank goodness for the internet and church bookstores where you can get all kinds of info and books!You don't have to be pro at it, just make it fun and the kids will definately follow!Good Luck!

Irish Quilting
Irish Quilting

better you than me! Oh I would have such a hard time. happy wishes that you fit right into groove!

love.boxes
love.boxes

Someone has a lot of confidence in your abilities.. because a great chorister = a great primary! You will be fabulous!

Mom2fur
Mom2fur

I think you'll do great! Hey, if you haven't thought about it already, how about doing a song in sign language? (With singing, too, of course!) See if the library has "The Joy of Signing" and try to find signs for a simple children's song. It's pretty easy. In fact, I gave my sign-language book to our choir leader and never saw it again, LOL!

Heeere's J-dude:
Heeere's J-dude:

Thanks for stopping by my 'universe'! Nice to meet you! As for chorister - my FAV calling ever. I have to say that because they've made me do it 3 times until I would say that. You'll do great at the weekly 'dog and pony show' as my friend used to call it when she had to do it. Be yourself and have visuals but don't rely on them - that's my only advise. And me know if you ever get stumped - got lots of ideas from years of failing at it! :) email on my profile should you need it.

Previous post:

Next post: