Sunday, July 29, 2012

Primary Singing Time Olympics, Week 2

Updates to this post (activities better defined) on August 3 (Friday).

Our 2012 Singing Time Olympic Sunday on July 29 was super fun, and we came away with really great feedback on how we could sing each song even better. I am using that feedback to plan next Sunday's activity, around an Olympics-themed training session to get ready for our next judging ceremony (which will be on August 12, to coincide as closely as possible with the closing of the 2012 Summer Games).

I'll just focus on a few of our weakest songs, since the time will be tight to judge every song anyway.I highly recommend taking advantage of the Olympics theme in primary. It's not that much preparation time, is a fun twist for the primary, and totally worth all the great feedback.

(I took down the judge name plates before I took this picture. It made it look even cooler. Oh well.)

I want to make some comments about our judges. While I don't think a ton of musical knowledge is a necessary prerequisite to being a judge for this type of activity, I did feel like it was a great benefit. They gave great constructive feedback, which I was sure to tell the children is the same type of feedback that our adults hear in ward choir (all three have had choir-related callings). In addition, two of these judges have children in the primary. I was particularly pleased to see how proud the children were that had a parent as a judge, and how they took it up a notch for their parents. (I am privileged to work with an amazing group of children, and I know that in part, I have some amazing parents to thank for showering their children with love, support, and the knowledge that they are children of our Father in Heaven. )

So now ... Singing Time Olympics, Week 2
Based on the judge's feedback, I want to work on one or more of the following elements, with different bullet points going to different songs, since none of these problems perpetuated across every song.
  • Not singing in sync with their neighbor
  • Not singing words clearly
  • Not singing loudly
  • Not singing reverently (too many wiggling bodies before or after the song ends)
  • Not watching the choir director (me) so that we all started at the same time
  • Forgetting some of the words
  • Not all signing or all singing (for CTR song)
  • Not showing emotion/enthusiasm for a particular song

I want to start with this story called "Day of Delight" from the 1993 New Era. It talks about music, the Sabbath day, and a Christian Olympian who in 1924 chose to not run in the race in which he was supposed to win gold because it was on the Sabbath Day. He instead ran a race length that was not his strength (the 400m instead of the 100m), that was not on the Sabbath day, and he won gold. This story is about faith, about good examples in his life, about turning to God, and also about Olympics and music. :)

I love the story too that an American handed him a note before his race that was from 1 Samuel 2:30, which read, "Those who honor me I will honor."

The Game - Choosing a Song and Activity with Archery.
I think I may bring a bow and arrows into primary and have the children try to hit a target that has the activity we are going to do on certain panels of the target. I will see if I can pick one up at a dollar store today. I have seen them in the toy section of grocery stores too. However, if you that doesn't work out, back up Plan B will be to let them toss balls into baskets or some other little game. I prefer archery though, since it is an Olympic event. Also, we had a member of the ward bring in his ancestor's homemade bow during Pioneer Day, so it will tie in past lessons for our ward.

Target #1 - Singing in Sync for Nephi's Courage
I spoke with one of the judges afterward, and he recommended singing staccato, and then legato, to work on singing in sync. That was the one I was most worried about fixing since they know the words and they know the tune - why are they not singing at the same time?! We will do this for "Nephi's Courage," where I could hear children starting the words just a millisecond off from each other, but enough that you could hear it they were not totally in sync. I will also have them sing while clapping to the tune, something I have seen another one of the judges that I invited do to help the children (and to help adult choir members) sing better.

What's the Olympic tie-in?
I will call this the horse trot and have them envision the horse prancing around the room for the staccato part, and then gliding around the room for the legato part. I will make up a different horse race for the clapping part. I think for Junior Primary I will make a little visual where we can watch the horse move across the board. Ping-pong would also be a good one for this song. I might have them pretend to be ping-pong balls for the staccato part of the song, and even have the two sides of the room ping-pong back and forth on each of the words of the song.

Target #2 - Singing Words Clearly for Choose the Right
I will have children make funny faces to exaggerate the words of the song as they sing it. I might even bring in a couple of mirrors and have the children pass them around and look at themselves as they sing. 

What's the Olympic tie-in?
[hmm, in progress ... suggestions would be appreciated ... maybe tie in to precision sport and practice saying certain words together, maybe with more staccato ...??]

Target #3 - Singing Loudly with Volleyball for [need to check my notes for which song] by Watching the Choir Director
I will have children practice watching me and knowing by arm movements that they need to sing more loudly or more quietly. I will occasionally move from setting to bumping, and also sneak in singing quietly and loudly. I will throw in some side activity, like randomly stopping in the middle of a song, to see how well children are watching me and paying attention to what I'm doing. I will ask the pianist to keep playing when I do that to make sure the children are stopping because of me, not because of the music.

What's the Olympic tie-in?
I will talk about how in games like Volleyball, sometimes the front person will make signals behind their back to indicate what they are going to do during a volley. That means the other person has to pay attention and recognize the subtle signs.

Target #5 - Singing Reverently
I think I might just talk about this one and remind children that they need to do this one all the way through.

What's the Olympic tie-in?
I will talk about the concentration needed for so many Olympic events, and remind them about how quiet the audience is during a tennis match so that the players can concentrate.

What's the Olympic tie-in?
This one will be Olympic basketball, and I will talk about how in basketball, you don't always know who is going to pass the ball to you unless you are watching. Hm .... okay, this one is weak. I would to turn this one into an activity ... so I will update this one as I get closer to next week and figure out what I'm going to do exactly ...

Target #6 - Remembering all the Words for vs.2 of "When I Am Baptized," vs. 3 of "Nephi's Courage," and vs.2 of "I Think When I Hear." 

When I Am Baptized - Team Rowing
I will have each side of the room take turns rowing, and when they row, their side will sing a line of the song, so that we go back and forth.

Nephi's Courage - Cycling
I am going to talk about how they draft off each other when they are going very fast. You know how when someone is yelling to you out of a car and the sound carries? We're cycling and draft, and singing, so the sound is going to carry - first one side is going to sing the song, then the other side of the room is going to sing the same line. Then we're going to repeat heading in the other direction.

I Think When I Hear - Soccer
I'll have them pass a soccer ball around the room while they sing the song. If the ball stops on them when the piano stops, their whole class has to stand up together and recite all the words of the song from the beginning until that point - because soccer is a team sport.

What's the Olympic tie-in?
I will talk about how in gymnastics, they have their routines perfectly memorized, so that if they forget a section, they can pick up right where they left off and keep going.

Showing Enthusiasm / Emotion
I will talk a little about each song and remind them about what they are singing for each song. I will talk to them about what the Stake choir director did to help us be enthusiastic and emotional about a particular song. 

What's the Olympic tie-in?
I will talk about how when we watch the Olympics, the commentators talk about the back stories of the participants, and how that helps to make us feel emotionally invested in the athletes. We want to be emotionally invested in the songs.


  1. Those are some fun ideas! FYI - Liddell was not LDS. He was very religious though. He preached in Scotland and, following in his parent's footsteps served a mission in China. When the Japanese took over his mission Liddell was interned into a labor camp. Given the chance to be released through a prisoner exchange, Liddell gave his ticket to freedom to a pregnant woman. He died in the camp. Truly, he was a Christ-like man.

  2. Yikes,thanks for reminding me.I started to write that and meant to write "Christian." I didn't realize I hit "save" without that info.

    What I wrote in my notes was, "Eric Lidell - a christian, not a mormon, but someone who studied the scriptures and honored God became known as the fastest runner in Scotland and went on to compete in the 1924 Olympics ... etc."

    Yes, he was an amazing Christian that dedicated his whole life to serving God, and that was what was important. I found some great info about him.

    The LDS article was helpful, but unfortunately, it pulled info from the notes for the movie that was based on him, which means it was the inaccurate movie version.

    So, I found notes in several places, including here:


    for a more full story.

    Thank you so much for the correction. I can't believe I left that on the post :p