How to Use Music in Primary

“How to Use Music in Primary,” 2017 Outline for Sharing Time: Choose the Right (2017), 26–27


The purpose of music in Primary is to teach the children the gospel of Jesus Christ and help them learn to live it. Primary songs make learning more enjoyable, help children learn and remember gospel truths, and invite the Spirit into Primary.The following are techniques that will help you teach children the gospel through music. The examples will help you with songs suggested in this outline. See the “How to Use Music in Primary” sections in previous sharing time outlines for additional ideas.

Teach the Gospel through Music

Some of the greatest lessons taught in Primary are taught through music. “Music can increase children’s understanding of gospel principles and strengthen their testimonies” (TNGC, 174). Consider asking questions about a song to help the children understand its meaning. For example, “Choose the Right” (Hymns, no. 239) teaches that we are not left alone to make decisions in life; the Holy Spirit will guide us in making righteous choices. Draw the outline of three CTR shields on the board and write the following questions inside them: “Who will guide me to choose the right?” “When will help be shining over me?” and “What is promised when I choose the right?” Point to the first shield, read the question together, and ask the children to listen as you sing the song and then stand when they hear the answer. Have them sing the answer with you a few times together. This will help them attach the words to the melody. Repeat with the other questions. Discuss phrases or words that may be difficult for the children to understand. Sing the entire song, and remind the children that when they sing it, they are testifying that the Holy Spirit will help us if we listen and make right choices.

Involve All Children in Musical Activities

Children of all ages and abilities respond to music and enjoy participating in musical activities. The rhythms of the songs help children remember what they sing and the message of the words. As you sing “Stand for the Right” (CS, 159), consider varying the tempo and volume of the song. Consider teaching musical terms such as legato (slow and smooth) and staccato (quick and choppy) and letting the children sing the song both ways.

actions to music

Children also love to participate with movement, such as by clapping a beat or matching hand actions to words. In the song “The Wise Man and the Foolish Man” (CS, 281), hand actions will help the children focus on the words of the song. You could also use actions when singing “Nephi’s Courage” (CS, 120–21). For example, ask the children to pretend to hold a shield with one arm as they sing “I will go,” pretend to hold a sword overhead as they sing “I will do the thing the Lord commands,” and march in place as they sing “I know the Lord provides a way; he wants me to obey.” Invite the children to come up with their own appropriate actions for any song (some actions may not be appropriate for the sacrament meeting presentation).

Review Songs to Reinforce Gospel Principles

As you teach a song, you will need to repeat it often for the children to learn it. You will also need to review the songs throughout the year to keep them fresh in the children’s minds. After a song is taught, review and sing it in a variety of fun ways. Keep singing songs even after the sacrament meeting presentation so the children will remember them. Consider writing the songs you want the children to review on different objects (for example, flowers in a jar, paper fish in a pond, feathers on a turkey, leaves on a tree, or hearts taped around the room). Ask the children to choose one object at a time and then sing the song. Following are some additional ideas for how to review songs (visuals are available at sharingtime.lds.org):

  • Singing Cube: Make a cube with a different action written on each side. Ask a child to roll the cube to determine what action they will do as they sing.

    children and cube
  • Girls Sing/Boys Sing: Make a picture of a boy and a picture of a girl, and glue or tape them onto separate sticks. While reviewing a song, change pictures to show who should sing. This will keep the children actively engaged.

    children singing
  • Singing Puppets: Copy and cut out one of the illustrations on page 63 of the nursery manual, Behold Your Little Ones, for each child to color. Glue or tape each illustration to a paper sack to make puppets. Invite the children to sing with their puppets.

    children singing with puppets boy puppet girl puppet
  • Basket Toss: Invite one of the children to toss a beanbag or crumpled piece of paper into a basket. If he or she makes it on the first try, have the children sing the verse once; if it takes two tries, have them sing the verse twice, and so on.

    basket toss
music, As a Child of God