Monday, November 19, 2012

L is for La-La-La

I am currently the Primary chorister at church. I do about a half hour of music time for the 3 - 8-year-olds, 10 minutes for the 18 month - 3-year-olds, and then another half hour for the 9 - 11-year-olds. Every week.

I'll admit that when I first got this calling, I wasn't thrilled. You see, I used to be a Primary chorister. And I had that job for - literally - years. I can't remember exactly how long it was, but I went through two pregnancies and spent quite a bit of time leading music with my right hand while holding a baby on my left hip. In fact, I spent so MUCH time leading music this way that I still don't really know what to do with my left hand while leading. :)

By the time I was done with the job last time around, I was really DONE with the job. I was burned out. Because at first glance it doesn't seem like such a hard job. You go in, you sing some songs, you go home. But you also need to plan in advance. You have to make materials to help them learn the song. You have to keep their attention. You have to try and get them to sing. You have to sing the same songs, over and over and over again... even when they're songs you've never loved in the first place. You play games, you entertain, you perform... all to try to get them to participate long enough to learn a few songs for the annual program performance. By the end of each week, you can be exhausted. That's the part that I mostly remembered when they asked me to take on this job again. So I accepted, but I had reservations.

Happily for me, I had forgotten all the good parts of being the chorister. For what other job at church can I make a big cardboard turkey? Or stage a snowball fight? Or play games every week?

I get to watch the little faces light up when I announce that we're going to sing Head, Shoulders, Knees, & Toes - the FAST version. I get to see someone beaming with excitement when they get to choose a favorite song to sing. I get to hear them improving week by week as they learn a new song. And since this is my second shot at this, I've learned a few things that help me enjoy it more.

  1. I don't take it so seriously. Sometimes, the kids aren't going to pay attention. Sometimes, they don't want to sing. Sometimes, I forget the words. And all of that is okay. I used to feel like I had to make sure every kid was involved and participating. And now I accept that not all of them will. I don't give up on them ever, but I don't take it as a personal failure, either.
  2. I choose songs I like. After so many years in Primary (when I wasn't the chorister, I've still been involved as a teacher or substitute for a lot of the time), I know most of the songs really well. And some of them I am really tired of hearing. So I go out of my way to find songs that aren't sung very often. And I teach the kids some of my favorite songs. And if it's one I don't like... I just kind of leave it off the list. (Unless one of the kids requests it.)
  3. I have fun. I goof around plenty. I make silly visuals. I joke with the kids. And sometimes I just go with the flow. When the kids have suggestions - like let's sing the words out of order - we go ahead and try it. It may not work out, but it's a good time.
The moment that it really sank in that I'm enjoying the job this time happened yesterday. I was finishing up singing time with the older kids and they had just learned a Thanksgiving song. One of the girls piped up and asked: "Can we do that in a round?" How exciting that they were participating and wanting to do more! We decided to not only do it in a round, but in the complicated 4-part round. We split the room into 4 groups, assigned out starting points, and went for it. And with no rehearsal, no stress, no trouble at all, they sang through this song flawlessly in a 4-part round. It was just a simple song, but it sounded so wonderful. And it made me so happy that they were so involved in it. Even the 11-year-old boys joined in - and believe me, most 11-year-old boys don't jump at the chance to sing!

It was a simple little song. A simple little moment. But it made me really happy.

No comments: