“A Song in Your Home,” Ensign, Mar. 1985, 71
Little children love music. They enjoy singing, dancing, and simply listening to music. But for some children, their only experience with music is at Primary or on the radio. Primary songs are consistent with Latter-day Saint values and can be used at home for fun and education and to draw the family closer together.
A good way to start singing at home is to sing the songs your children already know. The first step in using Primary songs is to get a copy of Sing with Me. Then get a list from the Primary chorister of the songs they sing in Primary. Once you’re familiar with these songs, add more.
You might learn new songs in family home evening. You could begin with a song the children know and end the evening with a new song. You could also use family home evening to teach younger children songs for special occasions such as Christmas, a baptism, or a brother’s mission call.
If the melody of a new song seems strange to you or you just can’t carry a tune, use the words anyway. My husband has used the words to “Our Friendly Bishop” and “Our Bishop” in discussions with children in his home teaching families. Children gain a greater understanding of the words and meanings of songs if they hear only the words occasionally.
As we teach songs, we need to make sure our children understand them. What would your concept be of Judea’s plains if you were four or five years old? As a young child, I thought the golden plates were dishes; I’d never seen a picture of them. Pictures and simple explanations can clear up confusing ideas, and visual aids, perhaps made with the children’s help, add meaning and help remind them of the words of the song. (Many excellent pictures can be found in old family home evening manuals.) Sometimes, too, you and your child could trade roles, with the child teaching you the song, complete with pictures he has made.
You don’t always have to “teach” children new songs. Children pick up music they’ve heard often. Make it a point to sing “When We’re Helping We’re Happy” as the kids pick up their toys or as the family cleans the yard together. Greet dad at the end of his day with “I’m So Glad When Daddy Comes Home.” The children will learn the songs quickly because the words mean something to them. They might also enjoy listening to and singing along with an album of gospel songs. And if you don’t have the albums, you might want to tape your family singing the songs, so the children can sing along anytime.
Sometimes you can use the songs in difficult situations. At times it might be better to replace a lengthy lecture with the song “Quickly I’ll Obey” when a child wanders too far down the block and doesn’t answer your call. The frowning faces around our house are turned upside down with the song “Smiles.” And it is reassuring to a child to be tucked into bed with “My Heavenly Father Loves Me.” You can help prepare young boys for receiving the priesthood through the use of such songs as “I Want to Be a Deacon” and “The Priesthood Is Restored.” And what grandfather wouldn’t be pleased and delighted with a grandchild’s off-key rendition of “When Grandpa Comes”?
Learn the Primary songs. Sing them together as a family. Enjoy the fun and understanding that comes through sharing music. And help your children (and yourself) learn to incorporate the songs’ messages into your lives. Laurie Williams Sowby, American Fork, Utah