Primary Music

Primary MusicFollowing are excerpts from the handbook relating to Music in Primary.  If you see anything that needs to be updated, please contact me.

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Below you’ll find out what you need to know about a calling in Primary music.  Important selections are bold.  My explanatory notes are italicized:

Purpose of Primary (Music)

The purposes of Primary are to help children:

  1. Feel Heavenly Father’s love for them.
  2. Learn and understand the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  3. Feel and recognize the influence of the Holy Ghost.
  4. Prepare to make and keep sacred covenants.

Ward Primary President and the Primary Music Leader

You probably already know that callings, or positions, in the Primary are filled upon recommendation by the Primary President and approval of the Bishopric or branch presidency.  Primary presidents are always female.  It is the responsibility of your Primary president to help you learn your duties and responsibilities.

[The Ward Primary President] submits recommendations to the bishopric for ward members to be called to serve as leaders and teachers in the Primary. In making these recommendations, she follows the guidelines in 19.1.1 and 19.1.2.

She teaches other Primary leaders and teachers their duties, using this handbook as a resource.

Ward Primary Music Leader(s) and Pianist(s)

Under the direction of the Primary presidency, Primary music leaders and pianists have the following responsibilities:

They plan, teach, and direct the music for sharing time, including songs that will be part of the children’s sacrament meeting presentation.

They help with music for the nursery class and other Primary classes as requested.

They may organize and direct a children’s choir as requested.

Members of the Primary presidency help the ward Primary music leaders and pianists understand how music contributes to Primary. The melodies, words, and messages of Primary songs can teach children the doctrines of the gospel and stay in their hearts throughout their lives.

Music in Primary should invite reverence, teach the gospel, and help children feel the influence of the Holy Ghost and the joy that comes through singing. While the children sing some songs, music leaders give them opportunities to move physically and stretch appropriately.

The Children’s Songbook and the current sharing time outline are the basic resources for music in Primary. Hymns from the hymnbook and songs from the Friend and Liahona are also appropriate. Occasionally children may sing patriotic or holiday songs that are suitable for Sunday and for the children’s ages. The use of any other music in Primary must be approved by the bishopric.

For information about teaching music to children, see the Children’s Songbook, pages 300–304. See also chapter 14 in this handbook, the current outline for sharing time, and “Music Callings and Resources” in the Serving in the Church section of

Ward Primary Presidency Meeting

During Ward Primary Presidency Meeting, music may be discussed.  The ward Primary music leader may be invited to Presidency meeting, though this is rare.

The Primary presidency holds a presidency meeting regularly. The president presides at the meeting and conducts it. The secretary attends, takes notes, and keeps track of assignments.

The agenda may include the following items:

  • Plan ways to strengthen individual children and teachers in the Primary.
  • Read and discuss scripture passages and instructions from Church leaders that relate to their callings.
  • Discuss the effectiveness of Sunday Primary, including music. Also discuss the effectiveness of weekday activities. Plan ways to improve.
  • Make plans to instruct other Primary workers in their responsibilities.
  • Review attendance records. Make plans to help children who have recently entered Primary and children whose families are less active.
  • Review the Primary budget and expenditures.

The Primary presidency may invite other Primary workers to attend these meetings as needed.

Primary Music on Sundays


Sunday Primary is normally held for 1 hour and 40 minutes while adults and youth attend priesthood meetings, Relief Society meeting, Young Women classes, and Sunday School.

Children in the nursery stay in their nursery class for the entire time, as outlined in the nursery manual, Behold Your Little Ones. The other children attend two sessions. In one session, children meet together for 50 minutes for sharing time. In the other session, they divide into smaller classes for 40-minute lessons taught by their Primary teachers.

The children and teachers who attend sharing time and classes have a 10-minute break between the two sessions. During this break, they prepare for the next session. Children may use the restroom or get a drink of water. Teachers supervise the children throughout the break.

The following charts show three options for scheduling Sunday Primary. When considering which option to follow, Primary leaders ensure that the older children attend sharing time at the same time as Aaronic Priesthood quorum meetings and Young Women classes. This will allow for a smooth transition for children when they reach age 12.

Option 1: The younger children and older children meet for sharing time in two different groups. During the first 50 minutes, one group meets for sharing time while the other group divides into classes for 40 minutes and has a 10-minute break. Then the two groups switch places, with the first group taking a 10-minute break before their classes begin.

Examples shown for 9:00am church start time.  Your schedule may be different.

10:20am: Group A – Sharing Time, 50 minutes; Group B – Classes, 40 minutes

11:00am: Group B – Break 10 minutes

11:10am: Group A – Break, 10 minutes; Group B – Sharing Time, 50 minutes

11:20am: Group B – Classes, 40 minutes

Option 2: All the children meet together for sharing time first. Then they have a break and go to their classes.

10:20am – Sharing Time, 50 minutes

11:10am – Break, 10 minutes

11:20am – Classes, 40 minutes

Option 3: All the children go to their classes first. Then they have a break and meet together for sharing time.

10:20am – Classes,40 minutes

11:00am – Break, 10 minutes

11:10am – Sharing Time, 50 minutes

Sharing Time

Sharing time provides opportunities for children to learn the gospel of Jesus Christ and feel the influence of the Holy Ghost. The Primary presidency follows the outline for sharing time, which is sent to the ward each year. Additional copies are available from Church Distribution Services and under “Primary” in the Serving in the Church section of

Members of the presidency take turns conducting sharing time. This time normally includes the following elements:

  1. Prelude music, a reverent song or hymn that the children know, and an opening prayer by one of the children.
  2. One or more of the following: a scripture passage chosen and read by one of the children, memorization of an article of faith, a brief message by a member of the bishopric, one or two activity songs, and children’s talks that are related to the month’s theme.
  3. Gospel instruction by the Primary presidency. This portion lasts about 15 minutes. Members of the presidency use the scriptures and follow the current outline for sharing time as they prepare and teach.
  4. Singing time conducted by a music leader. This portion lasts about 20 minutes (see the current outline for sharing time).
  5. A closing prayer by one of the children, followed by postlude music.

Children’s Sacrament Meeting Presentation

The annual children’s sacrament meeting presentation gives children an opportunity to share what they have learned in Primary. It is normally presented during the fourth quarter of the year.

The Primary presidency and music leader(s) prepare the presentation under the direction of the bishopric. They follow the guidelines in the current outline for sharing time, adapting it as needed to fit the circumstances of the children.

In the sacrament meeting, the presentation comes after the administration of the sacrament and may take all or part of the remaining time. All Primary children ages 3 through 11 sing songs they have learned in sharing time. Children may also participate by reading or reciting scripture passages, giving talks, singing in small groups, and sharing their testimonies. An adult leader in Primary may also share a brief message.

In keeping with the sacredness of sacrament meeting, the presentation should not include visuals, costumes, or media presentations.

Stake Primary Music Leader

If your stake has a Stake Primary Music Leader, consider contacting him or her when you are first called for ideas and training.

Under the direction of the stake Primary presidency, a stake Primary music leader may help give instruction in stake Primary leadership meetings. He or she may also give individual instruction to Primary presidencies, music leaders, and pianists. When requested, the stake Primary music leader organizes and directs a stake children’s choir.

Instruction should include demonstrating effective ways to teach the gospel to children through music. Resources include the Children’s Songbook,pages 300–304. See also chapter 14 in this handbook, the current outline for sharing time, and “Music Callings and Resources” in the Serving in the Church section of

Adapting the Primary Organization to Local Needs

In a ward with many children in an age-group, Primary leaders may organize multiple classes for those children. This adaptation may be especially helpful in wards that have many nursery-age children.

In a ward with few children, Primary leaders may combine two or more age-groups into one class.

In a small ward or branch, the members of the Primary presidency may be the only Primary leaders and teachers. In a very small unit, the Primary president may be the only Primary leader and teacher. In this case, she conducts sharing time and teaches a class for all the children. When possible, more leaders and teachers should be called in the following order:

1. Counselors in the Primary presidency

2. Music leaders

3. Primary teachers and nursery leaders

4. Secretary

5. Activity days leaders and Scout leaders (where applicable)

In a very small branch that does not have a Primary president, the Relief Society president can help parents organize instruction for their children until a Primary president is called.

In a small stake or district, the Primary president may be the only stake or district Primary leader. When possible, other leaders should be called in the following order:

1. Counselors in the stake or district Primary presidency

2. Music leader

3. Secretary

For general information about adapting to local needs, see chapter 17.

Men Serving in Primary

When considering members who might serve in the Primary, the bishopric and the Primary presidency should remember the positive influence of worthy men in the ward. Children, especially those who do not have worthy priesthood holders in their homes, need to see examples of righteous, caring priesthood holders. Men may serve as teachers, music leaders, pianists, activity days leaders, and Scout leaders. They may also assist in the nursery.

When men are assigned to teach children, at least two responsible adults should be present at all times. The two adults could be two men, a husband and wife, or two members of the same family. In small branches, if it is not practical to have two teachers in a classroom, a member of the Primary presidency frequently visits and monitors each class that a man teaches alone.

Encouraging Reverence

Reverence is an expression of love and respect for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Primary leaders and teachers help children understand what reverence is and how to act reverently. They encourage reverence by personal example. They also encourage reverence by coming to church prepared to teach from the scriptures and to use visuals and learning activities that invite the influence of the Holy Ghost.

Portrayals of Deity in Role-Playing Activities

Leaders and teachers carefully maintain reverence when they choose to conduct role-playing activities, especially when people dramatize sacred events. God the Father and the Holy Ghost are not to be portrayed in any way. The Savior should not be portrayed by children except in a nativity scene. For additional guidelines, see 13.6.15.

Children Who Have Special Needs

When a child has a prolonged illness, a disability, or other special needs, Primary leaders consult with priesthood leaders and the child’s parents to determine ways to help.

Children who have disabilities are normally included in their regular Primary classes. As needed, and where possible, a special teacher may be called to attend class with them or to teach them separately. If an illness or disability requires that a child stay at home, Primary teachers may help members of the child’s family teach Primary lessons to him or her. The child is enrolled in Primary with his or her age-group, and the teacher marks the child present when a lesson is given.

Children with disabilities or other special needs normally advance from Primary when they reach age 12.

For information about understanding, including, and teaching children who have disabilities, see 21.1.26 and


Budget purchases by music leaders should be approved by the Primary Presidency.  You may be able to be reimbursed for some expenses.

Activities for all aspects of Primary—including nursery, activity days, and Scouting—are funded from the ward budget. Supplies that are purchased for Primary activities, classes, or meetings belong to the ward. They are not for the personal use of Primary workers or their family members.

Ward Music Chairman

If you are new to conducting music, your unit’s music chairperson can train you.  The chairperson can also be invited to Primary to help you with music needs or other things as requested. 

A man or woman may serve as the ward music chairman. Under the direction of the ward music adviser, the ward music chairman has the following responsibilities:

  • Arrange for effective, appropriate music in sacrament meetings and other ward meetings.
  • Serve as a resource to ward auxiliary leaders in providing music training and in meeting other music needs as requested.
  • Recommend and supervise music training programs in the ward (see 14.7).

Adapting Ward Music to Local Conditions and Resources

The guidelines in this chapter may be adapted according to local needs. For example, in a small branch, the ward music chairman might also direct the choir and lead the music in sacrament meetings and in priesthood or auxiliary meetings. A pianist could play for sacrament meetings, choir, and priesthood or auxiliary meetings.

When no one can play the piano, the following resources may be useful:

1. CDs of hymns and children’s songs are listed in the Church Materials Catalog and are available from Church Distribution Services.

2. Hymns and children’s songs can be downloaded in MP3 format from the Church music Web site (

3. Some meetinghouses are equipped with digital pianos that have hymns programmed into them.

Music training and keyboards may be available for those who serve in music callings or who may serve in the future (see 14.7).

Music in the Ward

Appropriate music is a vital part of Church meetings, particularly sacrament meetings. Music that is carefully selected and properly presented can greatly enhance the spirit of worship. Music should be worshipful and fit the spirit of the meeting. Priesthood leaders determine what is suitable.

Guidelines for Choosing Appropriate Music for Church Worship Services

All Church music should be consistent with the following guidelines.

The hymns are the basic music for worship services and are standard for all congregational singing. In addition, other appropriate selections may be used for prelude and postlude music, choir music, and special musical presentations. If musical selections other than the hymns are used, they should be in keeping with the spirit of the hymns. Texts should be doctrinally correct. (See “Hymns for Congregations,” Hymns, 380–81.)

Secular music should not replace sacred music in Sunday meetings. Some religiously oriented music presented in a popular style is not appropriate for sacrament meetings. Also, much sacred music that is suitable for concerts and recitals is not appropriate for a Latter-day Saint worship service.

Music in Church meetings should not draw attention to itself or be for demonstration. This music is for worship, not performance.

Organs and pianos, or their electronic equivalents, are the standard instruments used in Church meetings. If other instruments are used, their use should be in keeping with the spirit of the meeting. Instruments with a prominent or less worshipful sound, such as most brass and percussion, are not appropriate for sacrament meeting.

Live accompaniment is normally used in sacrament and other ward meetings. If a piano, organ, or accompanist is not available, appropriate recordings may be used (see 14.3).

Music in Church meetings should usually be sung in the language of the congregation.

Prelude and Postlude Music

Prelude and Postlude music is played during Primary.  Here are the guidelines:

Quiet prelude and postlude music creates an atmosphere of worship that invites the Spirit into Church meetings. The organist or pianist usually plays hymns or other appropriate music for five to ten minutes before and after a meeting. Playing hymns can help members review gospel teachings in their minds.

Sacrament Meetings

… If a musical program is presented, it should be simple, reverent, and short enough to allow a spoken message. Sacrament meetings should not be turned over to outside musical groups. Recitals, concerts, and pageantry are not appropriate in sacrament meeting.


…In addition to the ward choir, Relief Society, priesthood, youth, children, and family choirs may be invited to sing hymns and other appropriate musical selections in Church meetings.

Using Music in the Classroom

They probably mean we can encourage children’s music from the Children’s Songbook, too:

Hymn singing can be an effective way to introduce or reinforce gospel principles taught in the classroom. Leaders should encourage teachers to use the hymns to enhance classroom instruction.

Music in the Home

Priesthood leaders and music leaders encourage Church members to use uplifting music in their homes, to have a copy of the hymnbook and the Children’s Songbook,and to sing this music as families. Concerning music in the home, the First Presidency said:

“The hymns can bring families a spirit of beauty and peace and can inspire love and unity among family members.

Teach your children to love the hymns. Sing them on the Sabbath, in home evening, during scripture study, at prayer time. Sing as you work, as you play, and as you travel together. Sing hymns as lullabies to build faith and testimony in your young ones” (Hymns, x).

Members may use Church-produced recordings to accompany singing and to help them learn the hymns and Primary songs. These recordings are listed in the Church Materials Catalog. Members may also access the Church music Web site ( to learn and listen to Church music, learn basic music skills, and find other helpful music resources.

Parents should encourage their children to receive instruction in musical skills, enabling them to use their talents to serve in the Church.

The bishopric may occasionally assign sacrament meeting speakers to talk about using music in the home. Occasionally a family may sing a favorite hymn or Primary song as a musical selection in sacrament meeting.

Obtaining Musical Instruments

Church buildings are usually supplied with an organ, pianos, or electronic music keyboards. Priesthood leaders may consult the Purchasing Division at Church headquarters or the assigned administrative office for information about acquiring new or replacement instruments.

Maintaining Musical Instruments

The agent bishop for each meetinghouse and the stake physical facilities representative (a high councilor) are to see that pianos and organs are tuned, maintained, and repaired as needed.

Baptismal Services

You may be invited to help with the music at a baptism.  Here are some guidelines:

A baptismal service may include:

  1. Prelude music.
  2. A brief welcome by the priesthood leader who is conducting the service.
  3. An opening hymn and prayer.
  4. One or two short talks on gospel subjects, such as baptism and the Holy Ghost.
  5. A musical selection.
  6. Performance of the baptism (see 20.3.8).
  7. A time of reverence while the people who participated in the baptism change into dry clothes. This could include interlude music  singing of well-known hymns and Primary songs. It could also include a brief gospel presentation by the full-time missionaries for nonmembers who may be present.
  8. Performance of the confirmation (for 8-year-old members of record only, if they will not be confirmed in a fast and testimony meeting; see 20.3.9 and 20.3.10).
  9. An opportunity for new converts to bear their testimonies, if desired.
  10. A closing hymn and prayer.
  11. Postlude music.

Copyrighted Materials/Music

The laws governing creative works and their permissible use vary from one country to another. The Church policies outlined in this section are consistent with international treaties that are applicable in most countries. For simplicity, this section refers to a creator’s rights as “copyright.” However, certain of these rights may be known by different names in some countries.

Copyright is protection given by law to the creators of original works of authorship that are expressed in a tangible form, including:

1. Literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works. …

3. Audio and audiovisual works (such as movies and videos, CDs, and DVDs).

Church members should strictly observe all copyright laws. Generally, only copyright owners may authorize duplication (copying), distribution, public performance, public display, or derivatives of their work. Using a work in any of these ways without authorization from the copyright owner is contrary to Church policy and may also subject the Church or the user to legal liability.

A user of a work should assume that it is protected by copyright.Published works usually include a copyright notice, such as “© 1959 by John Doe.” (For sound recordings, the symbol is ℗.) However, a copyright notice is not required for legal protection. Similarly, the fact that a publication is out of print does not nullify its copyright or justify duplicating, distributing, performing, displaying, or making derivatives of it without permission.

The Church’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) assists in processing requests to use copyrighted Church materials or programs, including materials that are copyrighted by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. (IRI). IRI is a separate, nonprofit corporation that owns the intellectual property used by the Church. Additional information on requesting the use of Church-owned materials can be found by following the “Rights and Use Information” link on

The following questions and answers may help members understand and abide by copyright laws when using copyrighted materials at church and at home. If members have questions that are not answered in these guidelines, they may contact:

Intellectual Property Office
50 East North Temple Street, Room 1888
Salt Lake City, UT 84150-0018
Telephone: 1-801-240-3959 or 1-800-453-3860, extension 2-3959
Fax: 1-801-240-1187
E-mail: [email protected]

Can I copy published Church materials? Church publications may usually be copied for noncommercial Church, home, and family use. No commercial use may be made of Church materials without specific written permission from the IPO.

Can I copy music? Special copyright laws apply to music. A person may copy music from Hymns, the Children’s Songbook, and Church magazines for noncommercial Church, home, and family use except where a restriction is expressly noted on the hymn or song. Duplicating printed or recorded music without authorization from the copyright owner is contrary to Church policy. Music that has been duplicated contrary to this policy must not be used for Church purposes.

Can I alter, copy, or segment Church-produced audiovisual materials? Not unless such use is specifically authorized by the IPO. Church-produced audiovisual materials should be used in accordance with prescribed instructions in the manuals and on the packaging materials.

Can I copy materials that are not owned by the Church? Generally not. Copyright laws govern the use of privately owned materials. Usually there are restrictions that give the conditions the public must follow before copying non-Church materials. These restrictions are usually listed near the beginning of a publication. Members should strictly observe all copyright laws.

Can I download or distribute materials that I find on Church Web sites? The Church has created several Web sites, such as, and Unless otherwise indicated, all material on Church-owned Web sites, including visuals, text, icons, displays, databases, and general information, may be viewed, downloaded, and printed for noncommercial Church, home, and family use only. Material from these sites may not be posted, transcribed, or distributed to other Web sites or computer networks without permission from the IPO.

Church-owned sites and any information on these sites, including the names and addresses of those who have submitted information, may not be used for selling or promoting products or services, soliciting clients, or any other commercial purpose.

For additional information, see the rights and use information associated with the Web sites.

What permission is needed to present musical and theatrical productions?  Productions that are owned by the Church or IRI may be performed in Church settings without permission from Church headquarters. If a copyrighted production is not owned by the Church, members must obtain the copyright owner’s permission to perform all or part of it in a Church setting. Usually the copyright owner requires fees or royalties even if no charge is made for the performances. All presentations should have the approval of local priesthood leaders.

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