“Yikes! There is music in Sunday School today!”
“Help! I need to lead Sunday School music this week!”
“Lord, thank you for the many gifts you have given me, but I don’t feel ‘musical’ is one of them.”
Music is a Bible-based part of our faith lives. It has connected God’s people throughout generations. No matter the level of your vocal or overall musical confidence, you DO have the gift of music and can lead kids of all ages. I’ll admit, after years working in children’s music ministry, I’m a little biased. But, throughout my experience working with kids from birth to grade six and their multigenerational leaders, I stockpiled a number of tips and encouragements that can serve anyone faced with leading Sunday school music—yes, even you.
If you can sing the most familiar birthday song, you can lead Sunday school music.
Singing familiar songs is the easiest way to get everyone to join in and reduces doubt that you may not be leading the music “perfectly.” When we sing familiar songs in unison, we each hear ourselves more than we hear those around us. So, choose songs that are already favorites with kids at your church and let them naturally lead themselves! Leave teaching new songs to your more comfortable music leaders—or invite your choir director as a special guest.
If you can listen and observe, you can lead Sunday school music.
There is most likely someone in the group who DOES have a beautiful, loud, in tune voice. Listen for those voices in your group. Observe those who reveal the biggest smiles and most energy when singing—and then invite them to lead with you. Kids love watching kids lead. Recognize the musical gifts of others and take full advantage of sharing music leadership.
If you can push “play,” you can lead Sunday school music.
It’s okay to use technical support when you need it and for a change of pace. Play a music video that gives kids the chance to sing and dance along. Have a karaoke day in Sunday school and let kids choose the songs. Invite the kids to color while they listen. How does the song make them feel? Instruct them to lie on the floor with eyes closed and really listen to the words of the song. What they hear can be just as meaningful as what they sing themselves.
If you can keep a steady beat, you can lead Sunday school music.
Round up all the simple rhythm instruments you can and drum, tap, or shake while you sing. Divide into groups: long vs. short beats; loud vs. soft beats. Start with one musician and add more with each line or verse. Play follow-the-leader with a call and response or echo rhythm. Simply saying the words of a song in rhythm works too.
If you can move, you can lead Sunday school music.
We all know kinesthetic learners and kids need to move—use walking, marching, clapping, jumping, rocking, whatever your space allows. Ask for kids’ suggestions to create motions for lyrics. Learn ASL motions for faith-filled words: Jesus, God, Spirit, love, follow, and more. Kids will be busy moving; singing will come along. It’s all part of the fun.
While you might be tempted to judge yourself as “not musical,” remember your audience. Kids will care that you are there FOR them and WITH them, sharing and growing in your faith lives together through music.