New Song Blues

I am a great fan of Christian music, especially praise and worship songs when I can hear the words, sing along with background music, and repeat them several times as I learn the words. However, one challenge I’ve faced in Children’s ministry and in my home church congregation is what I call “New Song Blues.”

I confess that I love the old hymns and many of the older Christian praise and worship songs. I am not opposed to learning some new praise songs but some circumstances make it difficult to learn and to enter in to singing during praise and worship in our church service. These same circumstances hinder children when they try to learn new songs that come with Bible curriculum packages.

Some curriculum packages offer a variety of new songs to go along with their teaching materials. This is a great idea because children love music. Having a CD or DVD with prerecorded songs helps the teacher get motivated to teach these songs to his/her class. When children (or adults) sing Christian songs they are reminded of the Biblical lessons they’ve learned along their journey.

“New Song Blues” appear when teachers try to teach the students too many new songs during a single praise and worship service. At times it’s impossible for the students to keep up with the teacher or music CD and the words overload their thinking capacity. As they struggle to learn the words, they forget about focusing on worshiping God. Before they have gone through the first stanza of the song, they have already forgotten the beginning of that stanza. Therefore it is necessary to repeat the same stanza several times so the students can memorize the words. In my opinion, the students should learn one new song at a time until they get it memorized; they another new song can be introduced. This way, the students can learn new songs, yet still enjoy praising and worshiping God with some of the old familiar tunes.

Sometimes it’s impossible for the students to learn all of the new songs that come with a curriculum package. Therefore, the teacher should choose the songs he/she thinks will be best for his/her class and begin teaching those first. A song that is implanted in a student’s will stick with them for a long time. I believe it’s better to learn a few songs that will be remembered than to overwhelm the class with so many new songs that they can’t even remember after their quarter of lessons is over.

When I worked with children, I generally limited our praise and worship time to between two and four short songs. Among those songs, I tried to limit the new songs to no more than two per praise and worship segment. I generally taught the two new songs repeatedly until many of the students had them memorized. At that point, I would introduce another new song.

Students and adults have a difficult time remembering the lines of a new song and get frustrated trying to fumble through the new song’s words. They get discouraged and focus more on trying to learn the new song than on actually worshiping God. When the students have days or a week between song-learning sessions, they may not even remember the words and/ or melody of the song they previously learned. The challenges with trying to learn new songs can bring about great frustration and new song blues.

 

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