I’ve seen music leaders who have asked to be released, not because they don’t enjoy teaching singing time, but because of the judgement and criticism they receive from the other adults in the room. And I won’t lie, I’ve been a singing time critic before. LONG before I was ever in the calling, I was a primary teacher. I was a newlywed and my husband and I were called to teach primary. We enjoyed teaching the kids each week. But then the dreaded singing time came. It was so boring. I was dying and so were the kids. The music leader just posted word charts on the board EVERY. SINGLE. SUNDAY. I’d talk to my husband about how I’d change things if I were ever in the calling, yada yada yada. I never expressed my feelings to her but I definitely thought there was a better way to do it. And maybe there was but she was doing her best.
Fast forward to a few years and I found myself with the calling. I was SUPER excited! I could finally implement my own ideas and do things the “right” way! I prepped all week for my first Sunday. I created a big music sheet with removable notes and the words. I was not only going to get these kids to know the songs, but teach music theory right along with it all while feeling the spirit and keeping everyone engaged! Boy were these kids lucky to have me and I was going to be awesome!
Needless to say, it was a HUGE flop! I went home so discouraged and embarrassed. I wasn’t sure I could face the next week in primary. This calling was harder than I ever imagined. I had so much compassion for the previous music leader I criticized years before. The following week, with a humbled heart, I prayerfully went back to the drawing board and scoured the internet for any help I could find (this was WAY before the primary music leaders FB group was around!). I eventually landed on a little singing time blog, the author being from Wisconsin (at least I think – it’s not around anymore and I wish I could remember her name or website). She came to my rescue and emailed me TONS of resources. I remember praying and stressing over this calling and I truly feel she was an answer to my prayer. She helped me over the course of a few months, helping me get my feet under me. I eventually learned the ropes and what my teaching style was. I also had some amazing stake leaders who put together annual stake trainings which I gleaned so much from. Even the simple fact of coming together with the 8 other women in the stake who had our calling was so helpful!
If you are familiar with my website, I’ve been collecting, creating and posting all my ideas out there for everyone use, share and hopefully love for over 10 years now! I never intended for it to grow into the space it has become. It was just meant as a place to store ideas and share them if anyone ever needed help. Just like I once needed. And it’s just me – I don’t have a team of employees. I’m no professional blogger (just take a look at its overall layout – it still screams 2008!). But it gets the job done and has become an enjoyable hobby-jobby where I’m able to serve in a somewhat odd but wonderful capacity.
I know that putting myself out there opens myself up to criticism – it just comes with the territory so I’ve learned to be pretty thick-skinned and let a lot brush by me. And honestly, I don’t get too much grief from readers – mostly everyone is way too kind and generous in their comments making it easy to keep running things over here.
I mostly feel terribly bad for the primary music leader in her ward. Her words initially upset me (don’t worry though, I’m over it now) and they’ve only been sent to me digitally! I’m assuming that this sister has verbally mentioned her issue with my content directly to her primary’s music leader – who I’m sure is doing her very best, as are most of us.
Unfortunately, I see similar comments pop up all over the primary music leaders FB page and I CRINGE when I see them. I know we all have different styles of running singing time and I personally think that’s great! But it’s NOT something to criticize! I think the intention of the new Come Follow Me curriculum is to help us study the scriptures that are given then how you teach is left completely up to you and the Lord.
- Will we feel the spirit? Yes! But 3 year olds will definitely feel the spirit differently than an 11 year old or an adult! And it’s my job as the music leader to take that into consideration.
- Will we sing? Yes! I always try to mostly sing, while talking very little
- Will we learn gospel principles while singing? Yes! We might be incorporating “mowing the lawn” as a fun “dad” action on Father’s Day as we sing a few songs about fathers but I see no harm in that. Movement is a wonderful way kids learn.
- Will the kids get rowdy? Possibly. But that’s okay! I can’t blame kids for acting like kids! As long as we bring it back in. The gospel is meant to be enjoyed. Only then will it be embraced and loved.
Let’s learn to love our differences instead of feel inadequate by them and critical (which, if I’m being honest, is hard to do)! This calling would be ineffective if we were required to teach using the exact same methods each week. I think that’s why there is so much freedom with the new curriculum and our lesson plans. We are able to read the simple curriculum, follow the directions of the spirit and then use our own talents to magnify our calling. It’s wonderful!
So, if you are every feeling down and out about this calling (or any calling for that matter!) because of other’s opinions, know that you are not alone. Then let’s try to not ever be the one who criticizes others – let’s just build each other up. We’re all children of our Heavenly Father trying to serve Him and his children in the best way we can.