Saturday, May 29, 2010

How to teach a song in 4 steps

I used this method recently at the Opening Worship of Synod (Vic/Tas) in Melbourne to teach a new song. The teaching method was introduced to me and many others by John L Bell many years ago during a visit to Melbourne. It is simple, direct, and effective.

At the recent Synod meeting Were I the Perfect Child of God was to be taught prior to worship. After I had sung the melody once, I asked who knew the tune, but it was new to everybody, despite its folksong origins. I must admit I was not confident people would be sufficiently prepared when came time to sing the song after the preaching. I was pleasantly surprised. People sang robustly and confidently.

Here are the steps.
  1. Make sure YOU know the song so well you can sing it in the shower.
  2. Position yourself in a highly visible position and make eye contact.
  3. Ask people to listen while you sing the tune (without words or instruments). Don't be tempted to double the melody with an instrument. This confuses things and is unneccesary if you know the song well.
  4. Ask people to hum while you sing the tune again. Make sure they hum as this means they can still hear the correct melody from you, and enables self correction without embarrasment.
Thats it!
I am sometimes tempted to introduce the words for a once through at this stage, particularly for longer songs. But on the occasion I have refered to, we didn't use the words until the moment in worship when people were to sing, with no ill effects.

Were I the Perfect Child of God can be found in I Will Not Sing Alone: Songs for the season of love.

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    Margaret said...

    Lucy is right. She led this song really well at the Synod service, and really did stop to make us hum, rather than sing, when we were learning it. And it worked beautifully - when we came to the song in the service, it was a beatiful and significant part of the flow of the worship. Many thanks, Lucy, for that gift for us! David Foth

    Lucy Graham said...

    Hi David,
    You are too lovely. Thanks for the warm fuzzy! Do you think you'll use this song in your own congregation?