Wednesday, December 30, 2015

4 Steps for Planning a Year of Songs

Prospero Año!  Честита Нова Година!  Happy New Year!  I love looking at the coming year and perusing all the new Primary songs.  Sometimes it can feel daunting, though, to have such a large chunk of time to plan.  Here are 4 helpful steps I follow when planning my year overall.

1. Start with the Outline for Sharing Time

Primary music leaders have been called to teach children the gospel of Jesus Christ, and our curriculum for this year is found in The 2016 Outline for Sharing Time, on here.  The outline has plans for weekly Sharing Times, and it shows which songs you should teach the children each month.  It also includes two months where individual wards are to choose additional songs from the Children's Songbook.  

The short lists of only the songs for this year and past years (including .mp3s) can be found here.  I type up the monthly themes and songs into a simple Word file, and I keep it on hand to copy and paste from all year long when planning my Singing Times.

2.  Work prayerfully with your Primary Presidency to select the additional songs

Every ward will handle the selecting/approving for the two additional songs a different way.  In some wards, the Primary Presidency chooses the songs.  My Primary presidency has me submit songs to them for approval.  “Let music reinforce what you’ve already taught,” counseled Sister Rosemary M. Wixom, General Primary President, in an introduction to the 2016 Primary theme, here.  I've tried to follow that advice by looking at the monthly Sharing Time themes and choosing songs to match. 

Additionally, though, about a month ago another Primary music leader mentioned how she prayed about her song choices, and I was embarrassed that I hadn't thought to do the same. I prayed over my choices this time, and I truly felt inspired. The songs I chose are "I Lived in Heaven" (p.4) and "This is My Beloved Son" (p.76), but the children in your ward may very well need a different song this year.  So I recommend that you pray on your end of things, too. :)

3.  Choose which verses to teach different groups

I find it much easier to approach a song with several verses if I have a plan in place with the Primary program in mind.  Before the year starts, I look at my list of songs and decide which verses I'll teach to different groups.  

For example, my Junior Primary is heavy on the young side.  I'm planning to only teach them the first verse of "If I Listen With My Heart," but I'll teach all three verses to Senior Primary.  When program time is close, I'll have the whole Primary sing verse one, with soloists from Senior singing the last two verses. With this plan in place, I won't stress about trying to teach Junior all three verses, and I can spend the extra time they'll need to learn just the first verse.

4.  Establish a pattern in your weekly planning

I normally sing three songs each week in Primary.  I've found that my children are more engaged when I offer a variety of songs and activities during a Singing Time, instead of focusing on one thing for 20 minutes.  I always include the song of the month in my weekly plan, and then I'll add in a couple more songs from one of these categories:
  • a program song from either the month prior or the month following
  • a song we're preparing to sing for a special occasion (such as Father's Day)
  • a song that supports the weekly Sharing Time lesson
I use this opportunity to give more time to songs with multiple verses, or to review older songs throughout the year so they stay fresh. 

Having an outline for my year of songs helps me feel excited about all the children are going to learn.  I can focus on how best to present each song, rather than stressing about what I'm going to teach.  "If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear," right? :)

Happy singing!


  1. As a fairly new chorister looking ahead at the new year with anxiety, this is perfect! Thank you for these easy steps and tips to get organized :)

    1. I'm so glad you found some tips you can use! I didn't plan this way my first year. It came gradually with time and advice. ;)

  2. Thank you! I'm in the same situation as far as a young Junior Primary, and your plan is perfect. It's not something I would have thought of, and will make this new chorister much less stressed!

    1. Oh, good! Reduction of stress is often elusive, but that doesn't mean we should stop striving for it. :) Good luck!

  3. Our Primary is all ages combined for Sharing/Singing time. I have found it very helpful to plan as you suggest, with the end in mind. This year, I want to include the Nursery kiddos in the presentation, so I'm the whole primary and nursery the sign language to the theme song. I love your suggestions and insights. Thank you!

    1. Oh, how fun, to include the Nursery kiddos! I bet they'll love the sign language, if you can simplify it. I wrote a post on how I use ASL, here:

      Also, combined age Singing Time has some unique challenges and opportunities. I wrote down some of my thoughts on it here:

      It includes some thoughts specifically on planning your Primary program, too. :) I hope you can find something you can use!