Creating a song is an exciting process. Nearly every person who has written the words or music for a song will say it was a thrilling experience. Prayer, work, and experimentation combine to make something new. After determining what the subject of a song will be, ideas to express thoughts about the subject are written down. Usually many changes are then made: lines are crossed out, notes altered. When enough of the right ideas are present, the new creation usually develops quickly, as though it was “meant to be.” This is the moment of inspiration. Heavenly Father blesses people as they pray to Him for help in finding the right combination of ideas. By playing the Music Box Memory Game, you can learn about some people who have created Primary songs.
Carefully open top of one-quart (.95 l) milk carton, and rinse clean.
Cut two 2 1/2″ (6 cm) horizontal slots 1/4″ (6 mm) wide, one 3″ (8 cm) from top of carton and the other 2″ (5 cm) from bottom of carton (see illustration).
Next, cut piece of construction paper 7″ x 2 1/2″ (18 cm x 6 cm) for chute. Fold back 1/2″ (1 cm) of each end. Insert chute as illustrated, and tape top and bottom to outside of slots. Seal top of carton with tape.
Decorate carton to resemble music box.
To make music cards, cut out picture and biographical information of each composer, fold on broken lines, and glue backs together.
Study music cards to learn who wrote each song.
Choose music card and read title side first. Try to match song title with composer or lyricist while inserting card in music box. When card comes out lower slot, pick up and read answer. Score one point for each correct answer.
Make additional cards by referring to Friend, October 1984, pages 14–15, and October 1985, pages 14–15.
As a young boy in Idaho, Dan Carter often cried when he listened to the Tabernacle Choir at conference time because the music was so beautiful. He said, “I always yearned to be able to share my testimony and feelings of the gospel through music.”
When he was asked to write a song to help prepare boys to receive the priesthood, he worried about his ability to write one that boys would enjoy singing. “After several weeks of working and rewriting, an idea for the music came. … I felt … sure that this song [‘A Young Man Prepared’] could help boys.”
Because Grietje (Greet-sha) Rowley is a convert to the Church, missionary work is very important to her. She said, “I love the children and know that Heavenly Father expects them to do great things. I wrote ‘I Want to Be a Missionary Now’ to show children how they can … bring happiness to others.”
For over twenty-five years Sister Rowley has played the piano for children at church. She thinks that the songs we learn in Primary can bring us joy and comfort forever. When she writes songs, she tries to make them easy to sing, easy to play, and easy to remember.
Anna Johnson was a special feature writer for the Deseret News and the author of a children’s column, “Hopscotch Valley.” Many books of her poetry were published, and Dr. Alexander Schreiner wrote tunes for over a hundred of them. “We Bow Our Heads” is a favorite prayer song written by them.
One of Sister Johnson’s hobbies was collecting foreign dolls. To her, the dolls represented children everywhere in whom she was interested. The collection was given to the Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Dr. Alexander Schreiner was born in Germany and played the piano at the age of five. When he was eight, he became a Church organist. He also studied the violin. Alexander played his first recital in the Tabernacle while in his teens and soon after was appointed Tabernacle organist. Since then millions of people have heard his organ broadcasts from the Tabernacle.
Dr. Schreiner earned the first Ph.D. given in music at the University of Utah. He has composed the music for many Primary songs, including “We Bow Our Heads.”
Wallace F. Bennett is a bass soloist, and his wife, Frances, plays the piano. In the 1940s Brother Bennett served on the music committee of the Primary General Board, and he had the same assignment with the Sunday School General Board. He wrote the words for several songs, including “When We’re Helping,” to provide texts for children’s programs.
Brother Bennett also served many years as ward choir director and as United States senator from Utah. He feels that “music is essential to the building of an emotional element in service in the Church.”
Judith W. Parker is a music research scholar and has lived and taught in the United States and Egypt. She believes that “music opens doors to other lands and cultures.”
She wrote “My Heavenly Father Wants Me to Be Happy” for a reverence program in 1968 to help teach children that living righteously brings happiness. Sister Parker was the music chairman for the Primary General Board when Sing with Me was prepared.
Joanne Doxey is the mother of eight children. Her family enjoys singing together and collecting and playing musical instruments. She said, “We always sing during anxious moments as well as during happy times.”
In 1969 Sister Doxey was asked to write a song for a Primary conference. “After praying for help,” she said, “a pure flow of inspiration came with both words and music.” Her melody and words were then arranged by Marjorie Kjar, and their song, “Where Love Is,” became a favorite of both adults and children.
Marjorie C. Kjar loves to have her family, including her grandchildren, sing together. She believes that music can bring happiness to the soul. Sister Kjar teaches children to play the piano. Her goal is “to help children prepare to serve in the Church as musicians.”
Sister Kjar and Sister Doxey have written many songs together. They suggest changes to each other and rework the words and music until it is just right. Many different versions of “Where Love Is” have been published, and it has been sung on a variety of occasions.
Use for choose-and-review singing time. Make more cards with favorites suggested by children.
Invite poet or composer to explain how he creates poems or songs.
Plan group activity where children experience creative process of composing poem or melody. (See Friend, October 1984 and 1985 “Sharing Time Ideas.”)