June 13, 2008

Interprative Singing Time at the Mormon Church

I've been given a new assignment at our church: Children's Song Leader. I knew this was coming. My whole life I've never had any calling in the Mormon church that wasn't completely administrative. But we've been going to our church here in Los Angeles for over four years now so the secret was hard to keep - I'm a manic freak who is superbly suited for mass entertainment.

A few weeks ago my friend tapped me on the shoulder at the start of church, "could you come help out in Primary [the 4-12 year old classes] today?" Of course I said yes but when I showed up she asked me to entertain the entire group of 50 kids with songs for half an hour.

There was only one thing to do. For our first song, I picked a basic everyone knew and had a squadron of eight year old girls come up to interpretive dance along to the music. I tried not to look towards the back of the room where the regular adult leaders sat since I'm sure they were expecting something a little more reverent. For the next song, I had them alternately yelling and whispering the words. The rest of Singing Time was just as raucous. It was a blast but I'm pretty sure not one of them "felt the Spirit." But two weeks later, they still have me doing it so hopefully my methods are acceptable.

I'm trying to come up with more gimics for song time. Perhaps a good motivator to get the kids singing louder would be, "children, the louder you sing, the higher I'll lift my dress..." Wow. Just kidding. Other options would be to have a suitcase full of kittens and threaten to kill one kitten for every kid I see not singing. A few of the older boys may take up the challenge, but I bet I'd get some good volume with that one. Of if I see kids not singing, I could duct tape their mouths and hands for the remainder of Primary class? I'm full of great ideas.

Anyone know where I can find kittens in bulk? I'll have to stick with interpretive dancing until I can scrape some up. Or just go the traditional route and bring in a paddle covered with damning scripture verses and whoop booties to encourage participation.

It's a wonder my church has always given me desk jobs. I was born for this crud.

28 comments:

Aunt LoLo said...

Oh, you're WAY to good to be wasted on a desk! Hey, if you figure out how to get a room full of 4-12 year olds actually pay attention, would you let me know? I was giving the 5 year olds two weeks ago. I tried doing the if-you-holding-the-beanbag-you-can-talk schtick...and ended up with a black eye. (One of those kids has a great arm...and no aim.)

Good luck! And it'd probably be easier to find bunnies - they self replicate. ;-)

Cynthia said...

There is often an auditioning process that goes on in the church (especially when it comes to music). The tip off phrase is "can you come help in the Primary for a few minutes today?" It all seems so innocent at first . . .
The interpretive dance idea is genius -- and it is always a good idea not to look at the adults.

Chicken Little said...

I liked the Who can sing loudest? competition. I also heard of a woman who brought the bishop in and said that if the kids sang really loud, then she'd cut off part of his tie and keep cutting until the tie was ridiculously short. Of course this was arranged in advance, but I really like this idea.

April said...

Our Primary Choister does a game where he has one jar of pencils with songs on it and one jar with dicriptions of how to sing. For instance one kid will pick "Book of Mormon Stories" and another will pick "humming" .... if you can get kids to HUM that song.... you are genius! they seam to like this game though... at leastin junior primary... which is where I'm at.

Amanda said...

I have sat through tons of singing times and have witnessed the ones who are truly genius. I have seen a lot of great ideas for getting them to sing, getting them to be reverent, and just plain entertainment. But interpretive dance, now that is true creative genius. I will have to file that one away under best kept secrets.

Jessica said...

I have access to kittens in bulk. Just one phone call away :)

bythelbs said...

I'm totally wishing I was in your ward right now. Threats are good. When my mom taught the 7 year olds there was this one boy (the Bishop's son) who was constantly bothering the other kids. One week when he wouldn't stop kicking his neighbor's chair my mom said very calmly, "Richard, you stop that right now or I'm going to nail your foot to the wall."

I'm not sure about the kittens though---the kids might get confused by the whole animal sacrifice thing.

aunt lolo--are you sure the kid had bad aim? ;)

Perla said...

Oh, I loved that post. I haven't laughed that hard in a while. I actually have tears in the corners of my eyes. How I wish that you were my kids song leader in primary! I can way too easily imagin the horror in the eyes of all 3 of my littles ones as they try to sing the songs to save kittens.

Melinda said...

girl,
you got to make a pet shop out of your little creations. with collars that have song names on them. then when the kid picks the song, you can ask the creature how she wants them to sing. loud, soft, pretty, ugly.

Susan M said...

Oh man. My valiant girls would *love* to do interpretive dance.

Our ward's previous singing leader would have the kids sing in staccato, whisper, etc. Staccato was a great favorite. As was the "hot and cold" thing---hide something and have one kid look for it. Sing louder when they were getting "hot."

She also had stop and go signs that she'd let one kid come up and use. The stop sign was to stop singing, the go was to sing, but the deal was they couldn't leave it on stop for too long. (The music just kept going.)

If the kids are getting too rowdy, best remedy I've seen is a very quiet, reverent song. "As I Have Loved You" or "I Am A Child Of God" work wonders.

Amy said...

That is my favorite church assignment. I've managed to get it twice now by blatantly and repeatedly asking for it. What a great excuse to be silly for two hours every Sunday.

Rachel said...

I had this calling once. (Proof that they don't care if you can actually sing in order to teach people how to sing.) I wish I could see your big Sacrament Meeting performance. It is going to rock!

The kids really liked when I would add one item of women's clothing (i.e. wig, frilly apron, beads, hat) on a male teacher every time they sang really loud.

Tash said...

you seem perfect for the calling. Maybe you could get kittens from the Humane Society and then explain about the plan of salvation if you have to follow through on all your empty threats about killing kittens, just make theother leaders go out of the room

Chris & Allie said...

That is one calling I've never had and kudos to you for being good at it! I just got back from girl's camp, they won't let me out of the teenage drama around here. Chris had all the kids to himself and even took over the blog for a few days. I would find interpretive dance
VERY entertaining in primary myself.

chanel said...

girl OUR ward NEEDS you! Our primary hands out "reverent necklaces"- only 6 mind you, which is totally fair by the way. ANYWAY after an hour in sacrament you'd think they'd let the kids be oh I don't know kids in Primary, but NO they must sit still, not talk, sing liek angels and earn reverent necklaces so they "feel the spirit", yeah, EVERY WARD NEEDS you and your interprative methods! nice job!

Jill said...

I wonder if interpretive dance would work with my Sunbeams.
Do you think it would stop them from hitting each other and jumping off of their chairs? Or should I just make a game out of them hitting each other and jumping off of their chairs while doing an interpretive dance ?

I think your singing time methods are great! Stuff like that will help them to remember the songs. Our song leader does things like that sometimes (however a bit toned down from your method)

I bet the kids loved it!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps a good motivator to get the kids singing louder would be, "children, the louder you sing, the higher I'll lift my dress..." Wow. Just kidding.

Much Much too far! Wow. You should delete that. It made me feel sick!

Melain said...

I've had that calling. It was hard work, but still hold as my favorite.

ps... I'm pretty sure kids don't feel the spirit. They just look around and wonder why the heck all the grown ups are crying. So your methods are everything they could ever dream of. ENTERTAINING!

S'mee said...

This is my favourite calling bar none. I loved it! I had a chicken puppet, Barbie Q'd Streisand, who, when she directed the kids could sing "opera"; a long snake in a can, who would only come out if they sang nice and loud; bees and butterflies for humming, ear muffs for when we signed instead of sang, I had an old lady and an old man (heads on sticks) who reminded the kids they needed to sing louder. They came in really handy during the performances. I would ask someone to use them as needed in the back of the chapel and BOY did the kids respond when they saw Ned and Elly pop up!

The first week I taught I informed the kids I was a talent scout and anyone who wanted a solo could just NOT sing, thus letting me know they needed and audition, which I actually had them do. The boys tried to back out, but after that first week they knew I meant EVERYONE to sing! There were actually some kids who WANTED solos, so it worked that way too!

I made rain sticks and shakers and all kinds of rhythm instruments for rewards. I also rewarded with new songs, signed songs or songs in different languages.

You are in for the best time! I am so jealous!

Suzie Petunia said...

You have GOT to work in those animals of yours somehow... SOOO entertaining!!

Heidi said...

FAVORITE CALLING EVER!

But then again, I'm kind of a manic freak too. So, maybe that's why. Plus, I love having all that attention. It's like the Heidi Variety Show every Sunday. And it's awesome. Oh, yes it is.

Mandy said...

I always get stuck behind the piano! Ever since I have been out of YW I have been behind that DAMN piano!! Now I'm the Organist! I think I am the worlds YOUNGEST ward organist!(32, but I still say I'm 29) At least you get the creative input, I just have to play the notes. I need to move to a new ward who doesn't know I play. :)

Her Royal Highness said...

When i was in that calling, I'd bring in a member of the bishopric (my hubby) and the louder they sang the more tie I cut off. Seriously. The kids thought it was great! (I DID make sure DH wasn't wearing his favorite tie that day, but I didn't tell him what was going on...)

Emma said...

We just moved and the primary president and bishopbric have been asked me about this calling the first week I moved in. Yesterday, third week here, I was asked to be the primary chorister. It is a little intimidating yet I am up for the challenge. I have loved reading all the ideas.

Mandy - My sister was called to be ward organist at 16 and had to teach herself how to play. Moving to a new ward is your best bet to get away from the piano!

ashley marie said...

where have you gone, Miss Hollywood?

Kari said...

Just ran across your blog, and I have to tell you, our primary pres actually did have an interpretive dancer come in for sharing time. The little boys on the front row almost peed their pants laughing.

Annie said...

Primary Choirister is my dream calling.

I would pay a bajillion dollars to have you leading the children in irreverent parodies of the standards.

When I have to step in and do Singing Time, I like to play "Primary Songbook Flashback." That's where we sing all the oldies but goodies that we grew up with from the orange song book. Remember that? Probably not, I have a few years on you.

If the kids sing well, I sing the songs in Spanish for them. They did it. What a way to abuse the gift of tongues! I don't think God minds. Do you?

John Newman said...

What perfect ideas! I remember subbing for this once. I looked into the Jr. Primary's young eyes and was terrified by the vacant stares. Now that I'm our stake's music director, I think I'll bring some of these up at the next music training. Hmmm ...