I have chosen 3 Christmas songs for the primary children to sing in Sacrament Meeting on December 12th. The first song is "Christmas Bells" C.S. 54 It has a descant that can be sung with it. I will have the Sr. Primary Girls sing the descant and the Sr. Boys & all of the Jr. Primary sing the main part.
The rhythm can be tricky. Many of the words are sung to 2 consecutive notes before moving on to the next word. So I decided to start off by teaching the Jr. Primary to clap the rhythm of the song. I had our pianist play the melody notes as I began to clap along with the rhthym. As the children became more familiar with it, they joined in clapping. Once they had it, we added humming along with clapping the rhythm. Soon I was singing the words while clapping. They joined in singing when they became more familiar with the words. We did all of this at a much slower pace than we'll actually sing it for the performance. We then changed up our clapping & did it on our laps or combined the two as we sang it over and over again. They got it down! Because our time was short, I didn't have time to bring out the bell bracelets I'd made. But we'll use them this week!
For the Sr. Primary, I drew the notes of both the main part & the descant part on a white board. The blue notes are the main part (Sr. Boys and all of Jr. Primary), the purple notes are the descant (Sr. Girls). My goal was just to get them to see the rhythm difference of the notes. I had ALL of Sr. Primary follow along with my clapping by watching the blue notes. Then, like Jr. Primary, the pianist added just the melody notes as we went. Then we added the words, and ta-duh!......they had it down, too. Now they don't really need to see the notes to learn the rhythm. But to add the descant to it makes it easier to follow along if they have the visual of the rhythm. So next we all hummed & clapped out the descant rhythm. Once they had it, I had the boys rest while the girls learned the words & sang it. We then put the 2 parts together. After the 2nd attempt, FABULOUS!!! I ended up having a boy that sings loudly & can stay on his part to stand up front with me & lead the boys. PERFECT!
I pulled out the bell bracelets I'd crocheted for them. The boys would shake them to the rhythm as they were singing and the girls shook them to the descant rhythm as they sang. It was totally awesome!!! We had a lot of fun and they learned the song, both parts!
The descant, as we learned, is written quite high. I'm an alto, so there are times where I just lip sync songs on high notes anyway. However, most of the girls were struggling with the range. The Primary President suggested jumping onto the LDS website to lower it. I did just that after church & we'll sing it this week.