In Primary Singing Time, the Song Leaders are given the charge to teach the Gospel through music, more especially through singing songs specifically written for children.
Teaching the Gospel through Music is the “why,” but how does that translate into the “how” of doing?
1. Probably the most common method I have observed is displaying the WORDS on a poster or flip chart. Where displaying words are great for older children and adults, they are practically worthless for 5-7 year olds.
2. The next most common device for teaching songs is displaying PICTURES to represent the meaning of the lyrics. But because Sacred Art pictures can rarely denote specific words (with the exception of a person’s name such as Jesus, Moses, Mary, Joseph, etc.), some picture clues have been reduced to ICONS.
The trouble with using ICONS on posters to represent words (such as the numeral 2 in place of the word “to” or a picture of a bumblebee for the word “be”) can be very confusing for young children. The actual word meaning can be missed because of the distraction of visual clues that mean something very different than what they sound like. Often young children are very LITERAL. They may receive an unintentional but very muddled message.
“ROTE” - the teacher demonstrates singing a line or verse of the song and expects the students to sing it back just from LISTENING. The teacher may also demonstrate MELODIC INTERVALS by moving her hand up and down an invisible “ladder.”
”Lead / Echo” - similar to ROTE TEACHING, but deliberately uses only short phrases.
”MELODY MAPS” - the teacher writes a representation of the notes of the melody onto the chalkboard or poster. She then sings the melodic line with words and points to the notes as she goes along. She may ask the children to listen for certain KEYWORDS such as which word was on the highest note or which word was held out the longest.
But how do you match the TEACHING METHOD to the song you need to teach?
PRAY FOR INSPIRATION on which method would best suit the MESSAGE of the song (Gospel doctrine, stories of Jesus, stories of friends or family, seasons, missionary, wiggle song, etc.), fit the STYLE of the Music (contemplative, robust, lyrical, whimsical, etc.), or supports the LEARNING STYLES of the students (visual/spatial, aural/musical, physical/kinesthetic, solitary/intrapersonal, verbal/linguistic, logical/mathematical, and social/interpersonal).
For best results, these three areas need to match! It can be done!