Friday, September 11, 2015

4 Lessons Our Primary Presidencies Want Us To Learn

I'm so excited to share today's post with you. I asked many Primary presidency members to share what they wish all Primary music leaders knew.  Interestingly, I heard a lot of the same themes repeated over and over.  I've grouped these sisters' comments into four overall lessons, and I've been trying to apply President Uchtdorf's counsel, "Refrain from thinking about how the words apply to someone else and ask the simple question:  'Lord, is it I?' " (General Conference, October 2014)

Lesson #1:  Primary Music is All About Testimony

“Primary chorister is THE MOST IMPORTANT JOB IN THE CHURCH. The kids need to know when they are singing truth and what the Spirit feels like.” -Cindi

“The primary chorister is like the gospel doctrine teacher for the children.” -Jennifer... & Carma... & Cari

“I feel that the music is THE MOST IMPORTANT PART of primary. I wish every chorister knew this. It brings in the spirit and teaches children on a level that we cannot. The primary songs bring children (and adults) closer to Christ. Children won’t remember great sharing times, but they will remember primary songs. I was talking to a member who left the church for several years the other day, and has come back. She told me that even at the darkest parts, she could remember the songs she had learned in primary years before and they helped her come back to the church.” -Jenica

“We all know that primary songs are what stay with the kiddos all their lives.” -Sara

“In times of trouble primary songs still come to my mind.” -MerriAnna

“I don’t remember any of my childhood sharing times, but I sure do remember those songs.”  -Rachael

“Our chorister is amazing! I think the one thing she does that I wish every chorister would do is to bear testimony!” -Danna

“I want music in Sharing time to build their testimonies. I really don't care if they sing alto or soprano or have parts... I want them to remember these songs when they are alone, or scared or need to feel the spirit. Teach them about the songs and what they mean.” -Natalie

Lesson #2:  "Make singing fun, but not like a circus." -Cindi

“Sometimes the activity takes most of the singing time and we don't sing much...There needs to be more balance of spiritual/reverence and fun/activity.”

"Please trust us. When we tell you no...there's a reason. As much as I appreciate my chorister's creativity, there are simply some things that are not appropriate for Sunday or for Primary."

“Trust that we've been given the inspiration to know you're in the right calling and you're where the Lord wants you. Trust that we also are given inspiration for the entire Primary.” -Heather

“Sometimes I feel like we are so wrapped up in entertaining the kids that we lose sight of building testimonies.” -Heidi

“While having a game may be fun...the over-the-top entertainment isn't what is needed. I love that our chorister is fun in her teaching, but not to the point of distraction or irreverence.” -Renee

Lesson #3:  Focus on the Children's Needs

Here are some snippets:  Know the songs before time, so you can focus on the children and not your book...Learn the children’s names...Repetition!  Get the kids singing with you...Be aware that your confidence, mood, and body language are contagious...Don't just hold up words for the songs.  The kids have to know them, not just be able to read them...Engage the kids.  Don't just stand there and lead, especially for the older boys...Don't forget Nursery, if the Nursery leaders don't feel comfortable singing...Don't teach so many songs that the kids can't learn them...

“What works with senior primary does not work in junior primary.  Most kids in junior primary can't read, so holding up pages with the song written out will not be an effective way to teach them the song.” -Kari

“Nursery children are capable of learning songs from the primary songbook.” -MerriAnna

“Be sure to include activities and wiggles during the songs, not just in between, like tapping your shoulders, clapping your hands.” -Cari

Lesson #4:  Primary Presidencies Love and Appreciate Us

“You are all so talented!!” -Barbara

“I do sharing time every third month but the chorister has to make the same song exciting every week (hats off!).” -Cindi

“You are doing a great job! Never feel discouraged or give up!” -Cari

"I have worked with many amazing primary choristers. They are energetic, inventive in their lessons, and find ways to bear witness through the songs...Thank you for your efforts in music. It is worth it!” -MerriAnna

A final thought:  

Ouch.  I felt a twinge on some of these, letting me know that I can do better.  I have to tell you, though, two main things surprised me through this experience.  One, not a single Primary president talked about getting the children ready for the Primary program!  Every Primary music leader that I know is stressing about that right now, and it doesn't even hit the presidencies' radar.  And two, I was stunned by how much they talked about testimonies.  Over and over and over again these presidencies begged me to share how important Primary music is in building the children's testimonies.  

Here's a quote from Rachel, one of these presidency members, which I think encapsulates everything I wanted to share:

"I wish the music leader knew:

That I truly am sorry when my lesson encroaches on music time. I know the children will remember the songs long after they forget my lesson.

That she IS a teacher, even if her calling does not specify the word teacher. By teaching the children doctrinally rich songs, she is helping build a foundation of testimony. She plays an integral role in the building of the children's testimonies. 

That I learn from her every week. 

That I love her passion for music. And I love her ability to share that passion with the children. 

That I love her creativity. 

That her hard work is truly appreciated. 

That we all hope she never moves away or wants a different calling, because we don't know what we'd ever do without her!!"

Happy singing,


  1. This is a page that I will refer back to often to gain perspective when preparing for my music lessons. Thanks for gathering this info and sharing it!

  2. How amazing! Thank you so much for sharing this! In this time of stress with programs, it is great to keep this perspective.

    1. Sarah, I think I needed this reminder for myself, too!

    2. we don't know what we would do without Sarah! She is amazing with her musical talent. She blesses us each and every week!

  3. This is great! I'm in the stake Primary pres, and I'm over the ward Primary music leaders. I'm going to send this link out in our monthly music leader spotlight email!

    1. I'm so glad you found it helpful! All these sisters' comments inspire me.

  4. Thank you for this! I need to review it from time to time. Thank you for keeping it up, even though this is nearly two years later! Blessings to you.

    1. Thank you for sharing this with me! I need to remember to come back and review these thoughts, too. :)