quiet activity, or "We Bow Our Heads" as a Prayer Song, or "My Hands" as a
wiggle song to be used going from a quiet story in Sharing Time to an
Activity such as coloring in Sharing Time. The key is to use the same
Transition songs for a long enough time. You may want to use the same
Opening Song, Prayer Song, Reverence Song and Wiggle Song for an entire
month. These can be signals for what comes next.
The Opening song (always a song about Heavenly Father or Christ and His Gospel) calls the meeting to order and signals when to focus on the speaker at the pulpit for announcements. The Prayer song signals to fold your arms and get ready for prayer. The Reverent Song can be used at any moment to transition from a louder activity to a quiet story or talk or a special Guest's
message. The "wiggle" song is important to use as a change of pace or for when the children just need to move. It is important to have variations in
doing a wiggle song - fast, slow, loud, soft, high, low. It can be done
with broad movements or completely silent or anything in between depending
on what needs to be taught or accomplished. "My Hands" is an excellent choice because it ends quietly with the arms folded. When the children understand that there are plenty of different activities in Primary including movement and creative expression, they are very willing to sit patiently through the periods of quiet time.
NEVER --- AT ANY TIME --- and I repeat --- NEVER should the singing be allowed to get out of control with yelling, wildness, or using obnoxious sounds, disrespectful voices or motions. (Most kids, when given the chance will always opt for silliness over respectfulness. So never give them that
opportunity!!!!) Children naturally have light high voices and should
NEVER be encouraged to sing louder than their instruments can produce
healthfully. If children are encouraged to yell, they do not learn to
LISTEN to and match PITCHES. A good music leader should ALWAYS try to teach in-tune singing!!!!!!! The children should be encouraged to fill up
with air and use their support muscles to sing with beauty. That is true
power. They should be taught that music can be a conduit to the Spirit.
Through their lovely in-tune singing, they can invite the Spirit to be with
them in Primary.
I have visited many, many Ward Primaries throughout the Church and a common problem is that the inexperienced Song Leader does not realize that by encouraging the children to sing loudly and always do big actions, they
are creating their own worst nightmares. They wonder why the children are
so irreverent and uncontrollable and why they do silly things like jump up
when they sing "Jesus wants me for a Sun -- BEEP!" Save the silly actions
for the wiggle songs and cultivate an attitude of respect for songs about
Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer.
I know through many years of practical experience that these principles
work. My heart aches to see the rising generation growing up without
learning to feel and know the Spirit through these beautiful Primary
songs. When children learn these songs, they can draw upon the powerful
yet simple gospel messages they contain as they need guidance in their
Your job as a Music Leader in Primary is to help the children
internalize the messages and feeling of the songs. Remember that games and actions and visual aides are just that --- AIDES to teaching the message of
the song. They are just tools -- a means to an end. They should be put
away and not used as soon as the song is learned. Analyze exactly your purpose in using a game or hand motions or visual aids. If your answer is JUST TO HAVE FUN, that's not good enough!!!!!! Most games take up a lot of time---time that the children should have been singing. Be very careful to use props and games and devices that have a useful purpose to TEACH the MESSAGE of the song and help the children burn that message into their "inward parts" through MEMORIZATION. Having FUN will be the natural byproduct of good teaching strategies. Remember that You should be your own best *visual aid* by knowing the songs by heart yourself and showing that you love the songs and that you know and love each of the children. You may want to share how a Primary song came to mind at some difficult time in your life and helped you through. Keep in mind that everything you do and teach should point the children to Christ.