Summer is almost here and as a musician that may mean your annual VBS responsibilities are right around the corner. As you study the music, text and gestures that go along with the songs of this year’s curriculum, don’t forget about the traditional songs that have been carried through generations and better yet, don’t forget your handchimes.
If your Worship style is more traditional, children will most likely welcome the change of the more contemporary and upbeat songs that are included in most VBS packages. Having the opportunity to sing along with the rock-like soundtracks and put their best foot forward with the accompanying moves will certainly add delight to each day.
It is my experience that the older children (Grades 3 – 6) excel at the packaged music programs of VBS. The younger children struggled a bit as the melodies were sometimes outside their singing range, rhythms were a little difficult and some of the text was too complicated to catch by rote and memorize quickly. I found that I would still use the curricular music with the younger children for rhythmic and movement activities but went back to the traditional songs of my own childhood as a supplement for singing and ringing.
Using the more traditional Bible songs helped me be a more effective teacher during that special week of summer for several reasons. I could pick and choose appropriate songs for the age with which I was working controlling the pitch range, the amount of text and the message. While any onlooker would think that I was just teaching songs of Christian life, I actually had a captured audience of music-makers who learned all about matching pitch, breath control, phrasing and most importantly, were able to combine their bodies, minds, spirits and voices to sing and rejoice! as eloquently taught by Helen Kemp.
Adding handchimes into the mix for the older children took it all to a new level. While the traditional Bible songs are familiar to some and not as challenging, adding percussion, handchimes and Orff-style instruments opened a whole new world to the children who are not actively involved my choir program and was a great recruitment tool. The children welcomed the opportunity to make music by an alternate method in addition to singing. The accessible chords and ostinati taught accompanied our songs and carried them to a higher level musically and spiritually.
Consider using some of the following lesson plans from ChimeWorks in your VBS classroom this summer as you train our future church leaders to sing, ring and rejoice!
LP00006 Amazing Grace
LP00007 Amazing Grace
LP00010 Simple Gifts
LP00038 For Health and Strength
LP00041 Peace Like a River
LP00046 Tallis Canon
LP00064 Michael, Row the Boat Ashore
LP00095 Good and Joyous
LP00097 Alleluia Round
LP00098 Jubilate Round