Lessons from five-year-olds
This afternoon Jamie and I co-directed another session of the Denton Bible kindergarten choir. We took the kids "Christmas caroling" around various empty classrooms as a way of teaching them some new Christmas songs without losing track of their attention spans…turned out to be a great way to keep them on task. We've also been teaching them about various kinds of musical opposites: fast/slow, loud/soft, notes/rests, and so forth. I don't really remember what kinds of concepts I was learning at that age, but they seem to be getting it pretty well.
I really enjoy working with these kids, for quite a few reasons. For starters, I absolutely know that the work we're doing in there is making a difference. We're not just teaching them about music; we're giving them a reason to use it. A few weeks back some of the kids sang on the way out: "Love one another as Jesus loves you." We taught them the song, but we didn't tell them to sing it right then; they just wanted to. That's a very encouraging thing to see; they may not understand it completely, but it'll stick with them until they do, and that's an incredible blessing for them and for those of us teaching the songs.
I'm also learning a lot about how I relate to children. I've always been a bit awkward around little kids; I never know exactly what to say or do, or how to say or do it. For some reason, I'm always scared that they're going to judge me or tease me or something like that…which is sort of stupid of me, considering (a) it doesn't make much sense to fear the opinions of someone who's only been alive 5 years, and (b) these kids haven't really learned that behavior yet anyway (it's not like they're printer-puncher). No, none of those fears have turned out to be justified; these kids actually seem to want to know what we're teaching them, and they consider it important to respect their teachers (even if they don't quite know how just yet).
I suppose all this is part of the reason why Jesus encouraged us to come to him like little children. Children definitely aren't perfect, but they understand that they are in need, and that gives them a distinct advantage over guys like me when it comes to learning important lessons.
Beyond that, it's been very encouraging to me to see this kind of thing valued by the church. I've already blogged a bit on my other site about adults' participation in church music, but I think the issues apply to children's music ministry as well. Kids need to understand and appreciate the joy of serving God in this way, and having a program like this is one of the best ways to teach them that. Hopefully we will continue to do so effectively throughout the rest of the year.