Dr. Deborah Sousa, music teacher of the Episcopal School of Knoxville and choirmaster and organist of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Knoxville, shares these tips on teaching children songs for worship services:
+ Prepare in advance during class or during the prelude.
+ Play a recording of the song, if available, so children can hear it first.
+ Use the rote method, if necessary: the teacher sings a line, then the children sing a line.
+ “Speak” the lines with the children.
+ Tap out the rhythms.
+ While learning the song, sing it several times, but not in the same way. Sing softly, then loudly, clap, or use drums. During this process, ask children, “how do you want to do the song next?”
+ Repeat the song three or four times during your class preparation time or before worship, so that the song is “in your gut.”
Dr. Sousa does not use hymnals or song sheets with children. Children in kindergarten and lower grades are then able to fully participate, even if they are not yet reading.