Practice: Dynamics

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One way to repeat a song many times while keeping the children’s attention is by adding dynamics. Begin by asking the children to sing the whole song, starting as quiet as they can sing and ending as loud as they can sing while still showing respect for the subject, the building, and the other classes. Ask them to pay special attention to pacing themselves.

Sing the song again, from loud to soft.

Next, have the children follow you as you raise and lower your hands to indicate volume. Allow several children to try leading the dynamics as well.

When the children understand HOW to sing dynamics, explain to them WHY we sing dynamics. Consider sharing a recording of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  Ask the children to use their hands to show you what dynamics the choir is using. Then ask them how they felt in the quietest and loudest parts.

My favorite recording for this purpose is from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir album from 2008, “Called to Serve.”  Track #11 is a great arrangement of “He Sent His Son.”  It is available on iTunes for $1.29.

There is also a video on YouTube which is a medley of “He Sent His Son” and “I’m Trying to be Like Jesus.”  It has some interesting dynamics, particularly after the 2:15 mark.  Using this video to teach dynamics in January would be a great transition if you are planning to use the Character Traits of Christ review activity.  Be sure to ask the children why the composer chose to put these two songs together.  What is he or she trying to say?

(Facebook Commenter Christine even found the sheet music to this arrangement here.)

For Junior Primary, you may end the lesson here. But for Senior Primary, you might continue by teaching the children where the dynamics fit in the specific song you are working on. This could be accomplished in several ways.

  • Consider printing sheet music for the children. Teach them the symbols for crescendo < and decrescendo > and ask them where they see the symbols. 
  • Ask the children which parts of the song they think should be loud or quiet.
  • Post your flipchart on the board and show the children where the dynamics could be with a chalk  line which moves up for loud and down for soft.