by Charol McDonald
Royal Oak, Mich., singing company leader
The Salvation Army has some publications available for children’s vocal. You should be able to find them through Resource Connection. It’s easy to pick these up since they’ll be age appropriate and geared toward Salvation Army services. Here are a couple options that have worked out well for us.
Sing to the Lord Children’s Voice Series. This is an attractive 32-page volume that contains songs for many different worship opportunities and caters to a broad range of abilities and ages. An accompaniment and demonstration CD also is available with this series, which may prove helpful.
Children’s Praise. This is a two-part vocal arrangement for children. It’s designed for Salvation Army singing companies and young soloists. This series has an accompaniment and demonstration CD for volumes 4 and above, and a cassette for volumes 1 through 3.
Some of my favorite “out of house” options include: Brentwood Benson Music Publication, Lillenas Publishing Company, Pam Andrews Music, Word Music, Integrity Music and Little Big Stuff Music. Many of these are available in video-driven music CDs, which is easier for younger children.
Although challenging at times, it’s crucial to make the most of your rehearsal time. From my experience, the kids will know if you’re not prepared!
I’d recommend including the following: have a warm up, rehearse past songs, introduce a new song, hold a devotional time and, depending on your priorities and aptitude levels, incorporate theory instruction in some way. Also, it’s great to work on a song until it’s better, but I’ve learned the kids get bored and antsy if you don’t switch it up a bit. Last, it’s a great idea to include a variety of music genres for ample options during different sermon series or ministry events.
As the leader it’s up to you to focus and direct the group according to pre-determined priorities. It’s so helpful to think through what those priorities are before setting a schedule and planning rehearsal time.
Ask yourself: Why are we doing this? Is it simply an opportunity to gather the children together and have fun once a week? Or do you want to spark a longer-term interest in music? Are you looking to have music in every service, regularly or for special events only? Do you want to put on musicals? Be sure the goals aren’t just clear to you, but to the children and their parents, so they know what’s expected of them.
Try to provide as many opportunities for participants as possible. Have them sing often, encourage solos and create duets. Also, be sure to give everyone a try. At this age there are many hidden talents to be discovered, and there is great potential to ignite a spark that lingers in these children for years to come.
One of the most important aspects of creating order is determining how you would like your group to set up on stage. It’s a good idea to take interpersonal connections between the children into consideration when making these decisions. Some children do well together, and others not so much.
If possible, I’d also recommend asking other adults for help in meeting needs such as taking attendance, bathroom breaks, discipline issues or working with children with special needs. If you’re having discipline issues, ask for help or suggestions and involve the older children in some form of leadership. It’s a good training tool and will help keep them be focused and involved.