Why Use Music At All?
1 Because God says to:
Genesis 4:21 – He is the father of music.
The first Godly song composed – Moses Song of Celebration Exodus 15:1 –
Song God ordered to be taught – Deut 31:19 Deut 31 – The song itself
Instructions given to musicians and singers re orders for worship at the temple. 1 Cron 25.
2. Because music is a universal language:
It soothes the soul
Inspires the heart
Reinforces the spoken word. It's hard to forget words that are wrapped up in tunes.
Assists our praise of our God
Is a powerful communication force.
3. Because children love it.
CHOOSING MUSIC FOR CHILDREN
What Makes Music a Hit?
- Memorable Tunes
- Relevant Music & Lyrics
1. Easy to sing tunes are more likely to be repeated outside the learning environment
2. Toe tapping, knee slapping rhythms encourage body movement which children love to do.
3. Songs with choruses and phrases which have repeating lyrics and music, are easily picked up.
4. Ensure that the song is in a manageable key for a child. e.g. Between A below and E, one octave above middle C.
Not all songs are suitable for singing, but can be used just as effectively.
Some songs are listening songs for analysis or reflection
Some songs are for setting a mood
Some songs can be used for subliminal suggestion, i.e., played in the background whilst some other activity is in progress.
RELEVANT LYRICS – making right choices
1. Words should be relevant to the child's social and mental development. i.e. a song that is suitable for a Grade 1 child, is almost certainly not going to hit the spot with gd 5 & 6.
2. Children below the age of about seven cannot allegorise. They are concrete thinkers. Therefore be very careful with songs like:
Give Me Oil In My Lamp …keep me burning, burning, burning – will have some children entertaining horrid thoughts of self combustion.
Joy Is A Flag Flown High On The Castle Of My Heart (means exactly what to the child? That their heart is castle shaped with a flag stuck in their chest).
With Christ In My Vessel I Can Smile At The Storm (a little man in a cereal bowl?)
- Avoid songs which speak with Christian sub culture clichés:
- Once I was blind, but now I see
- Washed in the blood of the Lamb
- Jesus shed His blood to set me free
Children don’t use language like that and many children would find the thought of being washed in blood extremely gross .
Having Jesus in my heart can produce quite a problem for a little person. "How does He get in there? Do I have to have an operation?"
3. Be very careful that you speak clearly and the children understand the words they are singing:
How about these for a few distortions?:
I will make you vicious ol''' men
The rain came down and the spuds came up
Our Father who art in Heaven, Harold be thy name
Thanks Peter God (thanks be to God)
4. If the children you are working with are not Christians, be careful with songs that contain words which are not true for them. e.g. I Love You Lord – You are More than Life to Me etc., etc. True praise comes from the heart of one who knows God. So, think through the words with the above in mind before you teach the song and make sure the children understand the meaning of what they are singing..
If you want to know the sort of music kids are listening to today, tune into Triple J FM,
FOX FM, MTV, Rage (television). That will give you a bit of an idea of how out of date many Christian songs are. Songs which may have been suitable to use with Grade 5 & 6 children 10 years ago, are now being aimed at grades 3 & 4. And songs which may have been enjoyed right across the age range at one time, are no longer appropriate.
A hook is anything in a song which makes the child take notice and want to hear or sing the song through again. It could be an unusual sound, a complicated guitar riff, a punctuating grunt or shout, or it may just be the relevance of the words themselves or even the action (choreography) that go with the song. With older children, the old fashioned type actions have been replaced with simple dance steps.
An unusual instrument coming through like a kazoo, a didgeridoo, swanny whistle or percussion, will often grab the attention of the masses. Many kids who don't want to sing, will attempt and enjoy percussion.
Enhance existing material. Make them more fun by including your own bit of creativity. e.g. clapping, finger snapping, make up your own actions or better still, let the kids do it. They will probably be better at it anyway.
Echoes are good hooks for younger children. Rounds, raps and chants are a challenge for older kids. Also, kids like to sing what they know, so don’t try teaching new songs every single week. Let them get used one or two new songs over several weeks before introducing more.
ATTENTION HOOKS –
Volume-ometer – Leader stands in front of kids with arms outstretched sideways pretending to be holding a giant dial. Mime the turning of the dial. As the children sing, pretend the dial is controlling their volume. When you turn the imaginary dial to the left they sing louder – to the right, they sing softer. Fun occurs when you go from right to left very fast.
VITTRA BOX (Very Important Things To Remember Always)
Can be made out of almost anything from a box to a handbag. Fix a piece of dowel to the top and bottom of the insideof a box with a slightly larger tube around the outside. Attach long piece of paper and wind it up around the roll. The edge of the paper pokes through a slit cut in the side of the box. When the paper is pulled out, it unravels from the tube inside and continues to come out of the slit, revealing the words of the song or memory verse.
TEACHING NEW TUNES
- Play the desired song in the background for a few weeks in a row prior to introduction. Then, when you do introduce it, the children will find it familiar.
- Learn the song well yourself first. Know the words backwards. Sing the song through for them and tell them you’ll only sing it once – the right way – when you sing it again, you are going to make mistakes and they have to tell you what the right words should be. Kids love it when you make mistakes. They will listen carefully and try hard to catch you out. Learning a song this way is almost like a game for them and you will be surprised at how quickly they will catch on.
HELP FOR THE UNMUSICAL TEACHER
So, you can't sing? You can't play an instrument? -
TERRIFIC!! Now let's S U R G E AHEAD!!!
1. One good quality tape recorder & good selection of kids material
2. Learn the words thoroughly
3. Learn the actions – thoroughly – practice in front of a mirror
4. Research your songs carefully - What kind of music does this age like? Are the words appropriate to their age? e.g. too babyish, embarrassing, jargon, irrelevant, maybe too gushy? Is it good for singing, or better for listening?Is it appropriate to the theme?
Once confident of the words and actions, sing along to the CD. It doesn’t matter if you sing out of tune, make sure the CD is up nice and loud to give a good vocal lead, and you be the good visual lead. Let the music show on your face. Enjoy it and the children will reflect what they see on your face and follow your confident actions. If you show shyness or embarrassment singing in front of them, that’s exactly what you will get back from them. They won’t care if you aren’t the greatest singer, so long as you’re having fun. Let the taperecorder do the rest.
The following headings are suggested topics to which you can assign your selection.
1. Introduce children to who God is.
2. Biblical truths
3. Principles for Godly living
4. Fair dinkum scripture
5. Bible Stories
7 Introduction to Worship
8. Comfort for the troubled child
9. Provoking thought about relevant issues - these songs can even be secular if used as a stepping stone to focus on the biblical truth you want to get over. However, use these songs to listen to rather than to sing.
No matter how great the son may sound musically, or how great the choreography, or how much the children
might love to sing it.
If the song is not theologically correct…
IT IS NO GOOD!!!