Torch, Summer 1981

14 The Times a11d the Seasons Pat Landers Dixon As the little girl picked up her toys, she sang a familiar tune but unfamiliar lyrics, "Oh, Susanna, oh, Susanna to the Burger King ." Her mother wasn't sure that she had heard her young daughter correctly, and she moved somewhat closer. "Alice , those aren't the correct words. It's 'Sing Hosanna, Sing Hosanna, Sing Hosanna to the King of Kings . "' Little Alice quickly adjusted her parody and continued the song . Children and music do go together very naturally. Music is the language of the soul. We wouldn't think of waiting until a child is eight or ten years of age before teaching him to speak . So, why do we wait until elementary school years to teach him music? Musicologists state that seventy percent of the human ear develops musically between the ages of three to seven. Personally, I don't think that there is one unmusical child on earth. He may not be able to produce the most melodic tones, but he can surely appreciate beautiful music. The fretful baby in his crib can respond to the soothing beauty of music . For several years, I have directed a children's choir in the churches I have attended . Each fall, a new choir season begins. It never fails when I look into thirty or so faces staring at me that I think , "How will I ever get this bunch to produce beautiful music? They can't even sing their words together." They prove me wrong every time. These following principles about children and music which I share with you have wqrked for me. I hope you can adapt them to your situation with some success. Choir organization I have found that the best rehearsal time is before church on Sunday evening . It seems the week nights are not the best since most children are tired from the day's school activities. Choose a thirty- to forty-minute time slot and make the best of it. The children set their own rules for behavior; then I enforce them consistently. When a child breaks a rule, I mark a penalty in my roll book . A maximum number of penalty marks decided by the choir requires me to speak to the parent. In the twelve years of directing a choir, I've never had to talk to a parent. Choir objectives To glorify the Lord Jesus Christ is the upmost, important reason to sing . Next would be that the children just learn to love to sing. Not only should choir be an enjoyable experience, but it should also be a learning experience. Teach them some basic music vocabulary: e.g., stanza, duet, notes, chorus, etc. Exercise their ears in listening to pitches by matching their sounds to the piano. If I can just take a timid six year old and help him to project, that is an accomplished objective for the year. Choir music Closely examine the words of the songs you choose for choir. Preteach unknown words to them before they sing . How I love to ask questions about certain words and listen to the children ' s candid responses. They can so simply explain a doctrine or value. Don't allow frivolous choruses to take up valuable time from teaching about God's love, child to child relationships, self-esteem, and other values. Choir performance The choir usually sings once a month in church. They memorize every song so the audience can benefit from seeing their faces instead of bobbing heads stuck in a song book . Don't limit their singing just to church. Being near a college allows our choir to sing there in front of hundreds of people . They have also made tapes for various projects and have sung in local nursing homes . May each of our choirs realize "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him" (Psalm 28:7).