Ideas for Music in Gospel Study
Here are a few ideas to get you started.
These are some ways you might use more music—or use music more effectively—in your gospel study and lessons. If you have other ideas to share, please send them my way!
- You can have formal opening and closing songs—but you don’t have to, and it doesn’t have to be limited to that.
- Use both the hymns and the primary songs, no matter your age or audience. Children can learn and love hymns, and adults often love children’s songs and are affected by the simple, straightforward messages.
- Memorize a song that goes with the topic—pick one song for the week and sing it every day/morning & evening, etc.
- Study the lyrics of a hymn or children’s song on the topic and the scriptures that go with it. Journal about what you learn.
- As part of your lesson, sing a hymn or primary song—use it as a jumping off point to study or discuss a topic.
- Print an inspirational line or stanza from a hymn to put up on the wall during the week.
- Learn a new song that you don’t know. You can listen to it on the Sacred Music app or the online music player (hymns or children’s songs) for several days in a row.
- Sing a different song each day that goes with the topic.
- Have each family member pick a hymn or children’s song to perform/present on the topic and explain why they chose it.
- Treat the lyrics as poetry. Read them in gospel library or online without the sheet music. Read it out loud, the way poetry is best enjoyed! You may find that different phrases and meanings stand out to you in this way than by singing or reading silently.
- Make a playlist of songs related to the week’s topic and play it as background music in your home (see the Resources page to find out which of the church apps can help you do this).
- Find lots of different arrangements/recordings of one song to listen to, sing, or play. See the Resources page for places where you might find sheet music and audio/video recordings.
- Choose a song at random from the weekly Come, Follow Me music list— sing it, then briefly discuss how it is connected to the week’s study. All of the songs on the weekly lists are numbered so that you can even just say “pick a number between 1 and 17” to choose one to sing.
- For more ideas from the Church and others, see the Resources page.
Singing with Young Children
Singing with very young children, around ages 5 and under, is a little different than singing with older children, youth, and adults. Sometimes it can feel a little daunting if you’re not familiar with what’s normal for this age group. Nevertheless, at these ages, children are incredibly responsive to and impacted by music! To help you feel more comfortable with singing with your very young children, here is some guidance, as well as an index of Primary songs that are ideal to sing with them.
Tips for Singing with Children ages 5 and Under
- All Primary songs and Hymns are good to sing with all children! But the best songs to sing with young children (if you’re hoping they will really engage and sing along eventually) are short with simple melodies and simple words. You can also use more complex songs that have a simple chorus, or use just one part of a longer song.
- Young children will mostly learn new songs through repetition, not by rote or call/response. Singing the same songs over and over will help them learn.
- If a song has several verses, pick just one (or maybe two) to focus on for a while to keep the message simple.
- Doing just a few very simple actions can keep them engaged and help them remember the songs. Even just tapping, marching, or dancing to the beat is great.
- It’s okay if your young children don’t sit still while you sing with them. Even if they are wandering or playing with another toy, they are still hearing and feeling the music and it will sink in.
- Using a picture or two can help children connect what you’re singing about to familiar people and ideas, but it’s not necessary every time you sing.
- Even if your children don’t sing along with you, they are learning. You just keep singing! It may take months of hearing the same song for a very young child to start singing along, but they are absorbing the spirit and message of the song all along the way.
- You do NOT need to be a good singer to sing with your child. Even if you aren’t great at singing the right notes or rhythm, your children won’t care. They care about the time spent together and the simple messages of the music shared over and over again.
- You can use technology or instruments to accompany your singing, but don’t let those things hinder the process– if it takes too long to set it up, young children might lose interest. Just singing unaccompanied (even if it’s not perfect) is great!
Topical Index of Primary Songs for Young Children
This index is a subset of the topical index from the Children’s Songbook. I have selected songs that I think are particularly appropriate for singing with very young children. This list reflects my personal opinions and is not definitive. You can always use other songs as you feel inspired to! I may add other songs from time to time, and if there are some you think are missing, please feel free to let me know.
Primary Songs For Young Children
A Prayer (#22b)
A Special Gift Is Kindness (#145a)
Choose the Right Way (#160)
Daddy’s Homecoming (#210)
Go the Second Mile (#167)
I Am Glad for Many Things (#151)
I Am like a Star (#163)
I Need My Heavenly Father (#18)
If You’re Happy (#266)
Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam (#60)
When We’re Helping (#198b)