The idea to form a Stake Children’s choir was born and the result was beautiful! Like waiting for the birth of a new little one there are details to take care of, issues to resolve, and bumps along the way, but in the end, the result was a beautiful coming together of heavenly voices singing with power and spirit. It was a memorable day!
“We are as the army of Helaman, we have been taught in our youth. And we will be the Lord’s missionaries to bring the world His truth!” Their voices were like a beacon on a foggy night directing us to the clear and simple truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was obvious by the smiles on their faces that the children felt the joy of it all, and the Primary leaders, well, we were grinning from ear to ear (when we weren’t holding back tears from the beautiful spirit those children shared).
We began early with the planning stages about 9 months before we wanted to perform. First we wrote up all the details like what age groups would be invited to join the choir, the date we would be performing, and the songs we would choose from in the final performance (choosing songs they would already be learning for their fall Primary program) and presented this information to all the Primary presidencies at our January leadership meeting. We also included a music workshop during this training meeting to teach the Primary leaders the new song with American Sign Language (ASL) signs to help them hit the road running. Since we were including the new song in our plans for the choir performance we wanted to be a resource in making it possible to teach the children the song in the individual wards; and let’s admit it, we love using ASL signs to teach music!
Once this part of the planning was all set we got to sit back and relax a little bit and wait. The idea was that the children throughout the whole stake would be learning the songs in their regular ward singing time and there would be no unecessary rehearsals; instead we would just come together the morning of the stake conference and unite our voices in praise!
About 2 months before the performance date we sent out a poll to the ward Primary presidencies asking them how well they knew the songs (how many verses etc.) we had chosen. We also asked the individual wards to find out how many children from their ward would be participating as well as which adult from their ward would be sitting with the children on the stand throughout the meeting (we suggested that the music leaders sit with the kids when possible and if not then a member of the presidency). This information was very helpful to us in determining what our final musical numbers would be and how many seats we would fill on the stand. It turned out that the majority of the children had learned the first verses of these five songs really well and less so on subsequent verses. In thinking about this we decided that we wanted the children to feel comfortable on the stand and not worry about whether they knew all the verses to any particular song. Therefore, we put together a medley of the first verses of a few songs and connected each with a simple interlude played on the piano. It turned out beautifully and the children were comfortable with these verses. They knew which song came next because they simply listened to the piano playing the introduction.
There was an inclination to make things more complex than necessary. A few times we found ourselves getting carried away with our good intentions and had to pull back on the reigns. We considered making treats for the kids or a card to give them at the end of the performance, as well as creating a page or packet of diversions to keep them occupied on the stand during the meeting. In the end we decided that the experience of being part of a great culminating achievement would be all the reward they needed. The simplicity of it allowed the children and leaders to enjoy the feeling of the spirit that was present without worrying about other less important details.
“But as I search the scriptures I can hear His words of peace, And if I listen with my heart I hear the Savior’s voice.”