While many of us have taught music in our congregations, it has most often been in an teen and/or adult setting. We are completely lost when it comes to teaching music to our youngest members. We thank Thana Furr, head of the Women's Program at the Singing School at ACU for her insights into this area.
Using Music In Children's Bible Classes
Music is an integral part of a child's life. Music is what children do. It is not an addendum to be used or tossed aside. For a child, music and movement are inseparable. Before our culture teaches us to "stop moving," children will move to music.
Music offers a short cut to learning. Facts and concepts put to music are quickly moved into long-term memory. (How do most of us learn our ABC's and the books of the Bible?) For this reason, music should be utilized as much as possible in teaching children about God and His Word.
While the Bible class venue is poorly suited to learning music theory, it is an excellent place in which to teach the elements of music. Music appreciation can be piggy-backed onto any use of music in the class. Here are some examples of utilizing children's Bible class songs to help children appreciate music:
Rhythm - Children pat their thighs to the rhythm of the song or pretend to be clock pendulums while singing.
Pitch - Children march up the steps as the pitch of a song rises and back down when it moves downward. Pitch can be used in storytelling. Use a low voice when describing David as little, close to the ground. Use a high voice when describing Goliath as tall, way up high.
Melodic Contour - As children sing a song they can draw with their fingers the melodic pattern of the song.
Tempo - Demonstrate that much fast music makes us feel happy while some slow music makes us feel sad. Some slow music helps us go to sleep or think about God.
Articulation - Some music almost hops. Encourage the children to hop as they sing " Ho, Ho, Ho Hosanna." They can also experience diaphragmic breathing by placing their hands on their diaphragms as they sing this song.
Duration - As the children sing, "God Is So Good," let them hear the long notes. Write a song to the tune of "Jingle Bells" and let them hear the short notes.
Volume - Some music is quiet and soft like "Whisper A Prayer." Some music is loud and joyful.
Rests - Children move to the rhythm of "God Is So Good." At the end of the first line, there is a rest. Children stop their movement and breathe during the rest.
Music is the teacher's best friend. While children are singing, they are totally engaged in the class activity. While they are moving with the music, they are using up energy that will help them sit still later in the class. Learning, engaging in the lesson, and being able to sit and listen - what else offers so much to the teacher (and to the students)?
List of resources:
Music in Childhood, Campbell and Scott-Kassner
What Every Teacher Should Know About Learning, Memory, and the Brain, Donna Tileston
Teaching With the Brain in Mind, Eric Jenson
Sing-Along Praise, Anita Stohs (or any Piggback song book)
Sing-Along Christian Songs, Connie Walters
Playful Songs & Bible Verses for Preschoolers, Group Publishing, Inc.
The Big Book of Music Games, Debra Olson Pressnall & Lorill Malecha
Each Little Dewdrop, Taylor Publications