I got this question from a friend:
There is a really neat story song, A Whale of a Tale, that tells the whole story of Jonah. The majority of it is sung by the choir. There are LOTS of words and even different patterns throughout. It is a GREAT song and REALLY tells the story in a way that teaches. I want to keep it full choir song since the lessons from the song will stick with a child forever once they learn all of the words. My question is this: How do you teach a song with so many words and patterns? What are your best tips? Thanks for any help you can give me!
One thing that works for me for teaching a wordy song is to do a move on a key word or beat of a phrase. Too many movements for a wordy song just looks like spastic kids up there, but moves on keys words helps them remember the phrase (and can be kept together and neat looking from the stage ). Plus, this all has to do with the way children chunk pieces of information in their memory. (Chunking doesn’t happen until around age 7.) So you might consider having the 1st graders NOT sing on this song – just a thought.
Consider also, having different kinds of moves represent the sections where the musical patterns differ from one another. Maybe the first section is done with hand and arms movements. Then when the musical patterns change the children pull a small cloth from their sleeve and do moves with the cloth to represent the different musical pattern. Doing this will help connect the part of the brain where the musical pattern is learned visually to the section of the brain where they hear the difference in the musical patterns as well.
One last thing to keep in mind is that moves can be a great visual enhancement to a musical or program especially when placed appropriately. You don’t want the choir moving on every song, but definitely don’t leave out the important moments like this out where the moves carefully placed will help them remember the spiritual truths – which of course is our primary goal. Music is simply the tool we use to accomplish this.