Monday, March 23, 2015

Child Pianists in Primary: a Solution to Irreverence

Wouldn't we all love for our Primaries to be a little more reverent?  When I started inviting senior Primary children to play prelude for Sharing Time, I hadn't realized how much of a reverent atmosphere they would bring.  I was just trying to give our musically accomplished children a chance to share their talents. We of course had our adult pianist providing prelude already, but the children act differently when it's their peers who are playing. They are more respectful, more attentive. Plus, I have 17 pianists in my senior Primary (yes, we have a large Primary!), so each of the 16 who aren't playing that week are hyper-aware of the fact that they will be up front soon enough. Their listening attitude is an example for those around them.

When a child has agreed to play prelude, I send him and his parents an email with instructions.  It goes something like this:


Thank you for agreeing to play Primary prelude for us!  Here are your instructions:

-You can play any Primary songs or hymns that you choose. If you don't have simplified sheet music, please let me know, and I can help you find some.

-You will have between 5 and 10 minutes.  You can definitely repeat songs!  

-Please enter the Primary room as soon as your class ends, so you can be ready to play.  You don't need to wait in the hallway with the other children.  When you enter the room, please wait quietly in the back until junior sharing time is finished.  As soon as the adult pianist starts playing postlude and the Primary presidency starts dismissing the junior classes, go to the piano and trade places with the adult pianist.

-Play until a member of the Primary presidency steps up to the microphone.  She'll normally look over at you, smile, and nod to let you know you can stop playing.  Then you can go sit with your class.

Thank you for being willing to share your talents!


I set up a rotation of the children, and I send a follow-up email the week prior.  I also send a thank you note in the mail to each child the week after she plays. Since we have so many pianists, each one only gets to play once every four months, and they don't become inundated with cards from me.

Here are some of the resources that I send them, as they are looking for simplified music to play.

Keyboard Course

-Keyboard Course-A keyboarding instruction manual. Contains beginner-level versions of several hymns, playing just the melody line with two hands.

Hymns Made Easy

-Hymns Made Easy-A step up from the Keyboarding Course. The right hand plays the melody, and the left hand accompanies with single notes. Harmonies are included on occasion. Includes mostly hymns, but a few Primary songs, as well.  Contains an index of the songs by difficulty level.

I Can Play It!

-"I Can Play It!"-A collection of simplified Primary songs that were published in The Friend magazine.  The difficulty level is typically close to the hardest songs in Hymns Made Easy, but some are significantly harder. (I know from experience because several are beyond my skill level!)

I Can Play Primary Songs

  -I Can Play Primary Songs-A book series by Brent Jorgensen. This sheet music is available for purchase from Jackman Music Corporation.  This series is designed for a student to play the melody line and for a teacher to play a two-hand accompaniment.

So, that's how prelude looks in our senior Primary. Have you tried this in your ward? Please comment and let me know how it's going. I'd love to hear about your lessons learned and your successes.

Happy Singing!

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