While sitting in the sanctuary of the church this afternoon, I realize that I've not written about training the children in our churches to participate in the musical arts. We have so little time with the kids each week and we have so many urgent things to teach them that are of eternal significance. Often, I feel guilty trying to fit in some musical education.
Recently, I came to understand that by training children to read simple rhythms and musical notation, I am actually equipping them to participate in the worship service for years to come. Traditionally this has been done in the form of a children's choir. Sadly, that tradition is quickly fading from congregations around the nation. How are we to teach children the basic elements of music in relation to the church service?
One method that I am currently using is hand bells. I'm not talking about a huge system that costs a ton of money....even though I do hope to get to that point eventually. I am using bells produced by Kidsplay at a fairly economical cost. (As I recall, each 8 note set cost less than $40. Extensions and chromatic add-on kits are available as well to get you out of the key of C major.) Here's how I'm using the bells.
I have taken a fairly simple song with which the children are familiar and written it out in notation. Students are given a picture of the note they are looking for and matching the picture on their bell with the notes on the music. Although I have not yet introduced rhythmic notation, the kids are learning to read from top to bottom, left to right.
Because I need to get this song ready for performance very quickly, I am modifying my approach tonight. The children have lyric sheets that have dots over the words where they are to play. It will not teach them more about music, but I am giving them the fun of making music together and allowing them to experience their first performance as an ensemble. I'll let you know how it goes!
What are you doing in your local congregation to teach your children about music? I'm always looking for fresh ideas, so please share in the comment section below.