Teaching with Music Workshop Goal

Partners In Education United Church of Christ
Teaching with Music Workshop
Page 5.7.1
Teaching with Music Workshop
Anyone Can Teach with Music, Really!
This workshop is designed to provide encouragement and resources for Christian educators and church
school teachers who desire to incorporate music and singing into their educational programs.
Activities in this workshop are designed to enable participants to:
• incorporate music into their Christian education program(s) in at least seven ways; and
• use and make music regardless of their level of expertise.
In her book, Teaching with Music Through the Church Year, Judy Gattis Smith recognizes two basic roles
of music in Christian education:
1. It should help a person grow in his/her understanding of God, of self, and of others;
2. It should intensify a personal commitment to Christ and his church.
She goes on to say, “Through music we reach a deeper level of commitment than words alone can
express.” Thus, it is important to remember to use music for music's sake, not just to fill time or silent
The use of music in education takes students beyond intellectual learning. Since faith is something that is
modeled and experienced rather than taught, music can serve as an aesthetic way to help Christians to
grow in their faith. Music stimulates the right side of the brain, the side that processes feelings, emotions,
and numerous other aspects that make up one’s faith. In order for Christians to grow in their faith, they
need a healthy balance of right and left brain religious experiences. The enjoyment of music contributes
in its own unique way to that kind of personal growth toward a relationship with Christ.
Demonstrate Ways to Use Music
Tape/CD player
Use the handout “How To Teach A Song” to teach a simple hymn such as “For the Beauty of the Earth”
(TNCH #28).* If you are not comfortable singing in front of the group, have a choir or a soloist record
this hymn for you to use in a tape or CD player. This method works well with all ages.
Rhythm instruments
If there is not enough time to teach “We Are Marching In the Light of God” (TNCH #526), play a
recording of it while the participants play rhythm instruments (found in most preschool and public
elementary school music programs). Vary the movement with each stanza: stand, bounce, walk, march,
move from side to side, etc. This method works best with preschool through early elementary ages.
Bible story song
When presenting a story from the Bible, consider teaching a song that tells the story. “Wee Sing Bible
Songs” has a wide variety of Bible story songs (The Wise and Foolish Man, Zacchaeus, Noah’s Ark,
etc.). These songs work well with preschool through elementary ages.
*TNCH = The New Century Hymnal (The Pilgrim Press, 1995)
Partners In Education United Church of Christ
Teaching with Music Workshop
Page 5.7.2
Play a singing game
Use your imagination to transform a traditional singing game such as “The Farmer in the Dell” into a
Bible story game. For example, Disciples in the Dell, or Abraham in the Dell. “London Bridge Is Falling
Down” could become “The Red Sea is Falling Down.” Encourage the participants to come up with their
own ideas to share. If there is time, come up with a group list of traditional games that could be
incorporated into a lesson musically (such as musical chairs and hand-clapping rhythmic games). These
games are most effective with preschoolers and Kindergartners.
Folk dance
Teach simple dance movements with a song. A simple example follows with the song, “Allelu, Praise Ye
the Lord.”
The group forms a circle. Allelu, allelu, allelu, alleluia, (circle to the right); Praise ye the
Lord! (circle to the left, then repeat these two phrases again); Praise ye the Lord! (five
baby steps to the center of the circle); Alleluia! (one giant step backward, then repeat
these two phrases two more times); Praise ye the Lord! (walk toward center of circle and
raise hands upward).
If there is time, invite the participants to suggest other movement to use with this song. Depending on the
complexity of the dance movements, this method will work well with older elementary through Senior
High ages. Simple movements can be done, with practice, with early elementary ages.
Metrical index
Using the handout, “Using the Metrical Index,” show the participants how to use the Metrical Index
found in the back of hymnals. Middle and Senior High students enjoy using this index, especially when
they learn that they can easily write their own hymns.
Discuss a popular song
Bring a recording of a popular song and discuss it with the participants using the handout, “Using Music
with Middle and Senior Highs.”
Close the session by singing “Jesus Loves Me” (TNCH #327).
Partners In Education United Church of Christ
Teaching with Music Workshop
Page 5.7.3
Songbook and Music Resource Bibliography
Wee Sing Bible Songs and Wee Sing More Bible Songs, songbook & cassette, Price Stearn, & Sloan,
Inc., Los Angeles, CA, ISBN: 0-8431-1566-1 (Available at most bookstores and amazon.com.)
Teaching With Music Through the Church Year, Judy Gattis Smith (ISBN: 0-687-41133-5)
I’m God's Child
All God's Children Sing
Rainbow Songbook
Songs for A Gospel People
Spirit Anew
All available from Logos Productions, (800-328-0200); www.joinhands.com
Seasons of the Spirit Songbook & CD, United Church Press, (800-537-3394); www.spiritseasons.com
Copyright License Services
[These licenses make the use of thousands of songs affordable, legal, and ethically appropriate.]
LicenSing (800-328-0200); www.joinhands.com, click on “Church Music”
CCLI (800-234-2446); www.ccli.com
GIA (800-442-1358); www.giamusic.com
Bryan Sirchio (www.sirchio.com) and Christopher Grundy (www.christophergrundy.com) are
singers/songwriters who are also UCC ministers. Their songs are entertaining, thought-provoking, and
good discussion-starters.
Partners In Education United Church of Christ
Teaching with Music Workshop
Page 5.7.4
How To Teach A Song
(Even if you can’t play a musical instrument)
All you need to evoke creative musical expression is:
• clear enunciation
• a light singing tone
• sparkling eyes & enthusiasm
• a feeling for rhythm
If you lack any of the above aspects, use a CD or cassette and a CD/cassette player:
• Have your church musician record the melody on a cassette (piano or someone singing).
• Play the recording while your class is doing a craft or quiet activity.
• During the next session, present the song as a total entity (have your church musician record the song
with accompaniment); while they are listening, have them follow the words on a sheet of paper or on
the board.
• Discuss the meaning of the words/song.
• Play the song again to listen to the melody.
• Repeat the first verse over & over, asking the class to join in when familiar with the tune.
• Learn other verses.
• Younger children will enjoy using simple hand motions to help them learn the words. Sign language
is good for older children.
• Repeat the song each week or often throughout the year.
Repetition can be fun:
• Ask all whose name begins with A-M to sing it.
• Then ask all whose name begins with N-Z to sing.
• All who have blond hair.
• All who have dark hair.
• Create your own divisions...
• Make it a part of your classroom routine (opening, closing, etc.)
• Write the words on the board. All sing. Erase one or two words and challenge them to sing it again
remembering the missing words. Continue to erase and sing until all the words are gone.
Everyone-Can-Sing Qualities
with hymn examples from The New Century Hymnal
Simple Words: Jesus Loves Me, God of the Sparrow, For the Beauty of the Earth
Easy Refrains: Rejoice, You Pure In Heart; Angels We Have Heard On High; The First Nowell
Echo Songs: This Is the Day; any hymn – echo each line
Short Songs: Little Children Welcome; (Caribbean) Hallelujah
Repetitious Songs: Let Us Break Bread Together; Lord, I Want To Be A Christian; Enter, Rejoice, and
Come In; I’ve Got Peace Like a River; This Little Light of Mine; We Are Marching In the Light of God; I
Thank You, Jesus; I Woke Up This Morning
Partners In Education United Church of Christ
Teaching with Music Workshop
Page 5.7.5
Using the Metrical Index
Locate a familiar hymn in your hymnal, such as “Joy to the World.” Somewhere on the page
should be a series of numbers with periods after each one, for example This code represents the
meter of the hymn. There are 8 syllables in the first line, 6 in the second, 8 in the third, and 6 syllables in
the fourth line. (Count out the syllables in the first stanza of “Joy to the World” and you will see that it
fits this code.) This means that if one follows a certain code when writing poetry, the resulting
words will fit any tune with that code. (The only exceptions are poems that have non-traditional accents
on certain syllables.) In the back of the hymnal is a Metrical Index that lists all of the hymn tunes by their
code. (Be aware that the hymn tunes are listed by their names, not the first line of the hymn. You must
look up the name of the hymn in the Index of Hymn Tunes.) This allows you to sing a hymn to another
tune, or create your own words to sing with a favorite hymn tune.
Partners In Education United Church of Christ
Teaching with Music Workshop
Page 5.7.6
Using Music with Middle and Sr. Highs
Discuss a popular song
Invite your students to bring in a CD or cassette tape recording of one of their favorite songs, as well
as the jacket so you can make a copy of the words for everyone to follow. Have them bring in their
choices a week in advance so that you can screen them before class. Be sure to use the following
guidelines (as well as some of your own):
• no foul language
• no sexual language or innuendo
• no demeaning of others (ethnic groups, women, etc.)
• no condoning of violence
Some Questions for Discussion:
• What is the song about?
• What words jump out at you? (List on newsprint)
• What emotions or feelings are being expressed? (List on newsprint)
• Does the music project the same feelings as the words?
• As Christians, how do you react to this song?
• What (if any) are the Christian teachings in this song?
• Do you agree with the message of this song? Why or why not?
Partners In Education United Church of Christ
Teaching with Music Workshop
Page 5.7.7
Musical Abilities of Children and Youth
Confidence level is at its height at this age.
Learn from imitation.
Learn best through movement; moving with music.
Enjoy and benefit from repetition.
Can use rhythm instruments and clapping, etc. with music.
Loudness/softness distinction is developing at this age.
Subject matter: Should be familiar topics with simple statements that tell a story, involve action, such
as Jesus as friend, Jesus’ life, God the creator, God’s love, God’s world, family, simple Bible stories,
etc. (concrete images that relate to the child’s experience).
Text: natural word order, words they understand; no more than 2 or 3 syllables per word.
Not too many verses; singing one verse through twice is appropriate for and enjoyed by this age.
Melody: simple step-by-step melodies are best – no large leaps.
Vocal range: from Eb above middle C to C above middle C.
Love to be sung to.
Some Hymn Refrains for Preschoolers
Jesus Loves Me
Jesus Christ Is Risen Today
Rejoice, You Pure in Heart (in D)
O Come, All Ye Faithful
The First Nowell
Angels We Have Heard On High
Some Hymns for Preschoolers
Jesus Loves Me
This Is the Day
Enter, Rejoice, and Come In
I’ve Got Peace Like a River
This Little Light of Mine
We Are Marching In the Light of God
Music brings Bible stories alive; enjoy Bible story musicals (see local church Music Director).
Repetition in the song’s tune is preferable but not mandatory.
Enjoy clapping with the beat and learning more complex clapping patterns.
Don’t quite understand the impact of death & resurrection yet; choose Easter texts that focus on
spring and new life.
Text: Topics may expand beyond home and family to the not so familiar.
Ready for rounds (two parts).
Range: from D above middle C to F above middle C; melody should mainly center around G above
middle C to D above middle C.
.The child’s voice sings more easily in the upper register (no higher than 2 Es above middle C).
Ready to learn how to use the hymnal.
Middle and Sr. Highs
Prefer non-singing musical activities (at this age level, it is best to leave the singing to the trained
Folk/circle dances.
Study contemporary lyrics in light of the gospel message.
Use hymn texts in lessons and write own tunes; write own texts to already existing tunes.