Giving Classical Music a Chance
“I love rock ‘n’ roll,” my son Devon said when he was young. Then he pretended to strum a guitar and, using a soda can for a microphone, sang along with the radio. I was dismayed by his strong musical preference because Devon was only three years old.
As a music teacher, I’ve seen children transfixed by a Puccini opera, thrilled by a Bach gavotte, and spellbound by a Mozart symphony. Music’s power is indisputable. But how might we as parents encourage our children to develop an interest in—or to at least become acquainted with—classical music? The best method is to expose them to it at a young age.
Children who listen to classical music at home will begin to associate the safe, cozy, good feelings of home life with good music. Begin your introduction with composers such as Mozart, Haydn, Grieg, or Beethoven. As you listen to this music with your children, ask what feelings the music evokes for them. Does it make them feel happy? sad? powerful? peaceful?
Next, teach children about musical elements. Can they hear the melody? Is there harmony? Can they identify individual instruments? Young children are particularly eager listeners when you guide them in this way.
Another way to interest children in classical music is to participate in creative musical games. Give children markers and big sheets of paper, and ask them to draw along with the music—to “map” the music. They can draw whatever the music suggests—anything from long, broad marks for sweeping phrases to dots for staccato passages.
Listening to music and making up a story to go along with it is another engaging musical activity. After you have the story in mind, turn on the music and have the children act out their drama. A good choice for this activity is Saint-Saëns’s Carnival of the Animals.
Bold works such as Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture invite marching and clapping to the rhythm. Have children make instruments and play along with the symphony. Oatmeal boxes make great drums, bean-filled cans make good shakers, and paper towel tubes can become woodwinds and brass instruments.
Following these simple suggestions can take the mystique out of classical music and enrich our children’s lives as they grow to love good music.—, Littleton, Colorado
Our Sacrament Meeting Program-Newsletter
Though printing a weekly sacrament meeting program is not required, some wards and branches choose to do so. Our ward has found it helpful to combine the program with the ward newsletter. A folded sheet of paper printed on both sides allows four half-pages, so if a half-page is used for sacrament meeting, the other three can be used for news. We include:
Area news, such as dates for the Know-Your-Religion series, the Family History Library schedule, or multistake activities.
Stake news, such as youth dance schedules, upcoming firesides, and calendar items for the coming week.
Ward news, such as planned socials, temple excursions, youth activities, Primary Achievement Days, choir practice, and other events. We also include a section on ward members who have recently been sustained to new callings, people who have moved into the ward, babies who have been blessed, and children who have been baptized.
Special news about ward members, such as an announcement of an upcoming mission, recognition for achievements, or other noteworthy events. Once a month we also print a list of birthdays.
We like to focus our news on what is coming up rather than on past events. It seems to work best when we call to get the information we need rather than wait for others to bring it to us. Flexibility is also important. For example, one fast Sunday we honored a request from a homebound ward member to print his testimony in our program-newsletter. Another time we included a recipe many sisters had requested. Sometimes we have even listed items that have gone into the lost-and-found box.
Doing these things has helped us improve the use of a Sunday program and eliminated the practice of a separate monthly newsletter.—, Bountiful, Utah
Crossing the Finish Line
I love to exercise. I run four or five miles six days a week. Some Saturdays I treat myself to six or seven miles, time permitting.
I began 15 years ago when, as a college freshman, I felt that I should be developing my body as well as my mind. When I began to understand that the mind and body function together as an eternal unit, exercising regularly and rigorously grew from a dislike to a dedication and finally to a love.
I love to put on my sweats, lace up my running shoes, and head down the street, breathing in great drafts of air and marveling at the wonders of nature and the awesome beauty of the physical body—the wondrous working of the muscles and sinews, the circulatory and skeletal systems, the senses. While running I often picture in my mind the integrity of my musculature as I feel my muscles expand and contract. I visualize my heart pumping blood, and each blood cell transporting oxygen to each muscle cell.
Physical exercise frees my mind to explore gospel truths. One impressive lesson, for example, came while I was running in a marathon. At the 17th mile every muscle ached from lack of sufficient oxygen. My rib cage was sore from heavy breathing, and my feet were burning. I wanted to collapse. Yet a small voice inside urged me not to give up but finish the race. And so I kept a steady pace.
At the 25th mile, with one mile and 385 yards left, I passed a runner who had run a much faster, stronger race but had fallen by the side of the street. He made no effort to get up as I passed him and crossed the finish line.
That image has stayed with me ever since. Whenever I become weary—too tired to do my visiting teaching, read the scriptures, or pray—I see the fallen runner. That mental picture gives me the power to persevere, to endure until I cross that great, eternal finish line.
Wrote the Apostle Paul: “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. …
“I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:
“But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection.” (1 Cor. 9: 24, 26–27.)
As I have exercised my physical body, I have felt a peace and strength and have known the sweet blessings that come when we pay the price, when we freely lengthen our stride.—, Murray, Utah
Object Lessons That Motivate
To teach and inspire his listeners, the Savior often referred to familiar objects—objects like a lost coin, a lost sheep, and a pearl of great price. Teachers can similarly find good object lessons by (1) searching the scriptures, (2) choosing common objects readily available, (3) using creativity. Two cautions: keep the object lesson short and avoid making comparisons that do not work well.
To help the teachers in our ward use object lessons better, I called each of the teachers who would be attending teacher development meeting and asked them to recall the most memorable object lesson that had stayed with them through the years. The responses were wonderful and sparked a deeper-than-usual interest in our upcoming meeting. From the responses, my wife, Rosie, and I listed nearly 30 object lessons on the chalkboard and spent the rest of the time encouraging teachers to share their most memorable object lessons with the class.
One sister, Eunice Black, a Relief Society teacher, told of a speaker who set out 10 apples on the podium to represent his monthly income. He “paid” one apple for food, two apples for rent, and so on until only one apple remained—a tithing apple. Then he asked the bishop to come and stand next to him. He explained that he hoped the Lord would understand that he still had many bills to pay and that he could pay only part of his tithing this month. Then the speaker took a big bite out of the apple and handed the bishop the partially eaten fruit. It made a powerful impression on Sister Black, who determined to pay tithing first, then budget the remainder of her money.
Deacons quorum adviser David Baugh shared a story about a raw egg that had been wrapped in several layers of egg cartons and tape. The teacher invited the class to bounce the bundle off the wall or drop it on the floor. Then the teacher took the package, pulled it apart, and showed the students the sheltered, unbroken egg inside. He taught the students that the gospel was designed to protect each of them in the same way—by helping them build layers of testimony as they kept the commandments.
Primary teacher Pam Lareaux told our class about a time when her grandmother had taken her into a darkened room, lit a candle, and showed Pam how she could light other candles once her own was lit. Then the older woman taught Pam the importance of being an example and sharing her testimony with others. The lesson was so powerful that Pam begged her grandmother to teach it to her again each time she visited.
I shared my own favorite object lesson about a bishop’s counselor in Laramie, Wyoming, who nearly 40 years earlier had passed a clean, new Lifesaver around a circle of deacons and then offered the handled and somewhat sticky piece of candy to anyone who wanted to eat it. This wise teacher challenged us to remember the lesson when we were old enough to begin dating. We needed to keep ourselves morally clean and to respect our dates. It was a powerful lesson on chastity I never forgot.
At our teacher development meeting we discovered what it means to combine love and spiritual preparation with inspired object lessons that can motivate members to make good decisions and increase their understanding of important gospel teachings.—, Salt Lake City, Utah