Monday, March 29, 2010

Scriptunes! - Bible Scripture Memory!

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
Psalm 119:105

What is the most important thing Christians should be filling their hearts and minds with? God's amazing Word, of course! When His Word is ingrained into our souls, it is there when we need it ~ to guide our thoughts and actions, to help us make wise choices, to lovingly help others, and to uplift and support in times of need.

But what if your memory skills need a little boost (like mine)? I find that when studying Scripture, I can remember the concept that I want, but have a difficult time quoting exactly without paraphrasing. I also have a hard time remembering the reference from where the verse is located in the Bible.

Why is it important to remember the verses and references exactly? When going through daily life, knowing the Word exactly and correctly is going to aid me in all I do or say. By knowing the reference I can easily refer to it to share that knowledge with others. it's much more convincing to be able to locate a verse and allow them to contemplate it than to just say that its in the Bible somewhere.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, 
rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 
so that the man of God may be thoroughly
equipped for every good work. 
2 Timothy 3:16-17

A method of making memorization easier is through music! So, one way my family has been memorizing Biblical Scriptures is using catchy, lively tunes. I believe all music should be used to glorify God in some way, so by singing Scripture we may worship Him and at the same time be implanting and teaching verses to ourselves, children, and anyone else who may listen.

The children have been participating in a wonderful program called Upwards for the past few years! It is a Christian organization for children and their families based around the fun games of basketball, soccer, and football. Several churches in our area band together to reach out to children grades K-8 in this mission. Not only do they have weekly basketball games and practices in which they learn to strengthen their sportsmanship and athletic skills, but they also have devotions and work together memorizing Scripture. They also have the option of cheerleading squads where the young ladies learn to be fantastic encourages to their fellow Christians.

"Upward Sports, the world’s largest Christian sports program for children, was created with a vision to provide the best sports experience possible for every child.  Each year some 1 million people around the world play, coach, referee, or volunteer in Upward Sports leagues and camps hosted by more than 2,600 churches.  Anyone – children and volunteers of any faith or no faith – can participate in Upward Sports.  Specifically designed for children in K5- sixth grade, Upward Sports aim to bring out “the winner” in every child – regardless of the game’s score." from Upwards Sports Site.

He replied, "My mother and brothers
are those who hear God's word 
and put it into practice."
Luke 8:21

Okay, Pamela, this blog is supposed to be about Christian music, so where are you going with this? Well, when the children start the yearly Upward program they are given a CD of incredible Christian music called Scriptunes! It contains an exciting, memorable song for each of the ten Bible verses the children will be studying. The songs are bouncy, repetitive, and easy to memorize! They contain the verse itself, a life application attached to it, and many time the reference right within the song itself. The music is composed and performed by a gentleman by the name of Mike Blackwood, a musician and pastor from Charlotte, North Carolina. My children and I have loved listening to and singing these songs to help to memorize each week's verse, then since the children enjoy them, listen to them year round. Since we have been participating for 5 years, we have 5 different CD for hours of inspirational listening!

If you would like to obtain a copy of one of the CD's, you may join Upwards, or just visit Mr. Blackwood's site or Amazon to order some for yourself! The songs are rewarding for all ages of believers!  :-D

If anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him.
1 John 2:5

Friday, March 19, 2010

Flute Profiles - Pamela Johnson

Flute Profiles - Pamela Johnson

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hymn Study

Although I enjoy several styles of music for worship, traditional hymns are ones that touch my heart the most. Why? Maybe it's because that is what I have been singing the most since I was a child, maybe it's the familiarity of memorized words and well known tunes, maybe it's the knowledge that innumerable Christians worldwide have sung them before me throughout centuries, or maybe it's a little bit of everything! Whatever the reason, the lyrics have such strong messages of faith and hope ~messages that are deep and sincere that I find strength in! They contain faith building words that I would like my children to hear, know, and understand.

How can I go about teaching the songs to them? We sing some of them on Sunday mornings, but there are so many inspirational ones. What about teaching them the meanings and stories behind these great hymns of faith? How do I make it interesting and meaningful to them? Squidoo author, Jimmie, has some wonderful suggestions for parents and teachers on making the hymns and their messages familiar to children in her article,
 Hymn Study for Homeschool. Although she writes it in the view from a Christian homeschool parent, her suggestions and ideas would be wonderful for any parent or teacher.

She includes articles which explain the benefits of studying the traditional hymns for you to consider. Given are sources of free hymn music and lyrics, discussion topics, and curricular connections. Several free online hymn study lesson plans are listed to give you suggestions for study and guide you in choosing ones that are helpful to the children you are working with.

Helpful reference books in print for reading and study are listed for you. Sources and samples for notebooking pages and worksheets for study notes are near the bottom of the article. The information may be used as a huge unit study about the hymns, an occasional study with a particular hymn that fits with your study topic, or as a family or choir devotional source. Whether you are a parent, homeschool teacher, Sunday school or Christian school teacher, or children's choir director, I think you will find this information useful!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Donut Man ~ Rob Evans

The doughnut man? Oh, I love doughnuts ~ sugared, glazed, powered ~ chocolate is the best! Fresh, soft, tasty ... mmm! That wonderful round shape is just perfect to hold and eat ... if it weren't for those pesky holes in the middle. Who's idea was it to cut out the middle anyway?

doughnut Pictures, Images and Photos

You know, sometimes in life we can feel like doughnuts. No, I don't mean we feel like eating doughnuts, I mean, sometimes although we may appear fresh and sugary on the outside, but we have a hole in the middle of our hearts ... like there is something missing.   Hhmmm ....

Hey, wait a minute! What's this doughnut man have to do with children's Christian music? Rob Evans, a.k.a., the "Donut Man" and his sidekick, "Duncan the Donut" have been performing Christian concerts for children and their families for over 25 years! Their infectious energy, wit, fun and enthusiasm for the gospel have been enjoyed by many in their live concerts, and on CD and DVD recordings. They now also have resources for Bible lessons with coordinating Bible theme songs and songbooks.

doughnut Pictures, Images and Photos

With the Donut Man, children will learn that "life without God's love is like a doughnut ... cause there's a hole in the middle of your heart!" They will also learn in an object lesson that "Jesus Christ, God's living Word, fills the empty place in our hearts with His incredible love!" ~ just like a doughnut hole can fill the hole in a doughnut! So clever and memorable for children ~ and adults!

On the Donut Man website you can join the online "Donut Repair Club", visit Duncan the Donut, listen to songs or watch videos, and print a coloring picture! The teacher section has interesting resources for Sunday School, Christian School, Homeschool, and VBS!

Some videos to enjoy!
Donut Hole Song
Donut Hole ~ Jesus Helps Us Share God's Love!
The Donut Repair Club ~ Celebration House Video

I bought the curriculum package many years ago to use with a children's choir because I knew that they loved the songs. It comes with a songbook, 52 lesson plans and songs, play scripts, CD's (split-track and regular) , and, my favorite ... a Duncan puppet!! In the choir situation, I would use parts of the lessons to intro the songs and reinforce the Biblical concepts. It also was helpful for teaching in Junior Church and VBS. When the children sang in worship services, we would sometimes have the piano play the accompaniment from the songbook - I also arranged it slightly to have the kid's bell choir and instrumentalists play along. A few times we used the CD as accompaniment in the services. The kids loved to choreograph  the songs, also!

Kids have so much fun singing songs like The Bath Song ~ "When I take a bath, I think about the Lord. Jesus fills me up with hope and washes me with super soap!" Not to mention the fun motions that go along with it! What a way to fill the children's hearts with the gospel when they start singing at every bath they take! (Not to mention a slightly silly choir director dancing and singing in the shower! ~ I suppose it's a good thing I've never slipped and broke anything. Can you imagine explaining to the paramedics ... "How did you fall, Ma'am?" ~ "Well, you see, I was dancing and singing about Jesus' Super Soap and ..." )

mmmm... Pictures, Images and Photos

Have to tell you, at the end of each Donut Man concert there are doughnuts to repair and eat!!  Yum! "DonutForget" to check out The Donut Man where you will find a "great way to invite children to join the Donut Repair Club and to never forget that God loves to fill their heart with all of His blessings!" (Quotes from The Donut Man website.)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Cedarmont Kids Classics

Continuing the theme of Christians recordings for children, I'd like to tell you about the resources from Cedarmont Kids Classics. The CD that I have in my collection is entitled, Little David Presents Sunday School Songs - 15 Classic Christian Songs for Kids. The recordings contain simple but pretty versions of popular songs with a group of children singing.

The series of  CDs are wonderful for Christian schools, Sunday School time, children's church, vacation Bible school, children choirs, and at home. What I enjoy about it them that the songs are easy for the kids to learn, and they remember and enjoy the songs! There are two sections on the CD. The first section contains the whole recording of voices and accompaniment; the second section uses a split-track recording where you may turn the sound balance to only have accompaniment for your children to sing with. Lyrics are included on the CD cover.

Other categories of recordings include Bible Songs, Action Bible Songs, Songs of Praise, Silly Songs, Hymns, and several others. Video recordings of the songs has also been created. I was pleased to find 3 songbooks with piano and guitar accompaniment on their site along with a new line of products in Spanish.

With the songbooks and recordings, teaching songs to children's choirs is a breeze! Whether they learn by listening, then singing with the accompaniment side only, or singing with live accompaniment that you provide, these lovely songs are ones that all children will enjoy using in worship.

No, I'm not an affiliate of Cedarmont. These reviews are simply meant to assist parents, teachers, and choir directors be aware of the possibilities for the children you love and work with. I am picking ones that I have felt the most beneficial and economical over 20 years of working with youth choir groups and classes. I hope this information is helpful to you.  :)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Christian Music for Children

What Christian music recordings do your children like to listen to? Please leave your suggestions and favorites. Thanks!

Supersized-Energized with Steven Courtney!

Supersized-Energized Sunshine-Funtime! is the name of one of Steven Courtney's many recordings for children. With a title like that, kids can't resist joining in the fun singing and dancing with Steven Courtney & His Band of Friends!

 The first time I ever heard of Mr. Courtney was a little over a decade. He came to a local church to put on a concert for the children. Friends who had heard of him gave rave reviews, so I took my then preschool children to check it out and have some fun. And fun we had! He has such a exciting way to get kids and parents to participate in the concert and spend some great time together. We've been lucky to see him perform live a few times around the area (he lives in Pennsylvania), and enjoy listening to his CD's and video tapes.

Mr. Courtney's website  states that he has performed "4,500 concerts, recorded 27 full-length albums, received 7 Children's Music Web Awards and the Arpeggio Award for "Outstanding Work with Children" through the Arts, as well as produce three concert-length performance videos and an award winning Children's TV series" over the past 15 years! Not bad, huh? He has provided both secular and Christian concerts for children through school assemblies, family concerts, churches, and more. His music includes several song themes emphasizing positive thoughts and attitudes, compassion and respect for one another, perseverance to go on in an upbeat way, and other character traits.

I was excited today to find sheet music and midi files, and music videos on the website - I'll hopefully have a chance to use them with some of the children I enjoy working with! If you are a kid, parent, grandparent, teacher, or musician - check out his music. It's a real treat to listen to!!


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wonderful Source of Worship Music

I wanted to share an incredible resource from my 'Facebook Friend', Gary Lanier, that I think all worship leaders and musicians will enjoy and find very useful. Gary's site is The Lanier Company ~ Sharing Worship Music with the World. There he shares free sheet music, lead sheets, hymn sheets, MP3, videos, Bible studies, and other worship materials, many of which are his own compositions. There are many other worship resources there for purchase also that look fabulous, also. Gary works in conjunction with eMusic for Worship.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Hide 'em in Your Heart!

Children's music ministry has been where my heart has been serving the Lord for the past 20 years (officially - longer unofficially)! God has blessed me by allowing me to direct children's choirs and accompany them on the piano at churches, schools, and homeschool groups.

One of the most awesome things about serving this way is seeing the lifelong impact that may be given to the kids. I couldn't tell you all the names of the songs I've picked for the kids or even how many pieces they have done, but there are some that will never be forgotten by me -and hopefully not by the kids either.

This month I will be starting this new Christian music blog by presenting some of the recordings and sheet music that have been more that cute songs or musically aesthetic for the kids. I try to pick musical selections that will teach them something about the character of God, review a Bible story, share a message with the congregation or audience they sing to, and most importantly, help them remember a key Bible passage or concept.

The first materials I wanted to share are recordings and music books by Steve Green. They are phenomenal! Entitled Hide 'Em in Your Heart - Bible Memory Melodies, Volumes 1 and 2, they do just that - plant key Bible verses into the children's little beings! A friend had mentioned them to me numerous years ago as something her children enjoyed listening to, so I decided to purchase them for my children. Wow - what a treat that was the first time listening to them. Volume 1 has 20 short pieces based on the Word directly from the Bible, and Volume 2 has 21. Each song is short (1-2 minutes long) and to the point. Mr. Green and the children on the recordings sing significant Bible verses in a simple, pleasing, repetitive way that are easy to learn and fun to sing. I searched out companion sheet music books for the accompaniment and away we went.

The children are usually presented with the verses of the month for memory. I have them look it up in the Bible, read it several times, and discuss what it means to us and how we can apply it in our lives. Then, of course, we learn the song and sing it repeatedly until thoroughly and internally memorized. Long after we are "done" with a song, the children request to sing them at rehearsals! I have been using them with my own children and children in the groups I work with frequently over the years.

Now here's the cool part ~ parents of the children (along with my own) sing the songs at home and other places they go, simply because they enjoy the songs. While they do, they are placing those verses deeper and deeper into their hearts and sharing the Word with anyone who may hear them! The verses come up in conversations and the children are able to take those oh so important verses with them as they go through their daily lives! I've been told that the kids remember them many years later as they go to recall certain verses. I know I've many a time been able to remember a verse by simply singing the precious tunes in my mind!

As I sit here and look at the worn covers, scratched on the plastic, paper crumpled, I continue to pray that these Biblical truths will stay with the children, guiding them in all they do!

I'll be sharing some other favorites throughout the month, so if you have a resources for children's Christian music, please leave me a note to share. Thanks and God bless you! :)

Monday, March 1, 2010

March 2010 Music Poll

Would you please select your favorite styles of music you prefer for worship times and services? I know there is quite a debate among people and am curious of your thoughts on the subject.

I truly like a combination of many styles. As long as it is praising and serving God, I'm happy! I would like to write about many of these types of worship music, but am interested in what my readers enjoy, too! If you have more to say about it than the few words I have in the poll, leave me a note. Thanks for visiting and voting.
Hello ~ I love all kinds of music, but as a Christian, I believe every note of music comes from God, and each note should be served back to Him for His Glory! I hope to create this blog with an emphasis on Christian music - it's purpose, styles, musicians, artists, composers, and anything other thoughts that God reveals to me about music - HIS music!