Monday, July 21, 2008

Pay Attention to those Magazine Renewal Notices!

We've subscribed to Scientific American for a couple of years now. We've tried a few different science magazines, and found them all to be either too technical, too dumbed-down, or on topics that aren't of interest to our family. But we've found SciAm to be a good fit for us.

However, like any magazine, they've been sending us the standard "WARNING!! YOUR SUBSCRIPTION IS ABOUT TO EXPIRE!!" letters for the past several months, about six months before expiration actually occurs. And they kindly offer us a 1-year renewal for $34.97. Or we can get a 3-year renewal for $88, which comes to $29.33 a year.

The subscription rate seems kind of high, and I clearly remember paying quite a bit less for it when we initially subscribed. Sure enough, when you visit their website, they offer a 1 year subscription for--get this--$24.97.

Bizarre, isn't it?

Maybe I'll just let that subscription expire, and then re-subscribe at the lower rate.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Primary Music Review Ideas

At long last, here is the list of Primary music review ideas I promised to post. (See my previous post for the background on that.) Not that the ideas are anything profound, but hey--if they help someone with their calling, they're worth sharing. Since ours was a student stake, we had lots of Primary leaders who hadn't worked in Primary before and were scared to death of the upcoming sacrament meeting program.

You have to imagine it typed up in a cutesy font that Blogger doesn't support. Also notice the liberal use of exclamation points (!!!)

Ideas for Music Leaders on Coping with Reviewing for the Primary Sacrament Meeting Program!

Practicing Songs:
For songs that they don’t know so well, do some intensive work on these. Make sure they have an understanding of the song (re-teach it if you have to—it does no good to practice a song if they don’t know the words) and then have them sing it and sing it and sing it. Some ideas for making the repetitions interesting are:
· Stop and Go Signs
· just boys or just girls sing
· Sing as loud as you can (within reason!)
· Invite a special guest to listen and comment (hopefully they will try hard and the comments will be good!)
· or have a puppet listen to them sing and comment; a puppet can be easier to take critiques from if they don’t sing well, and can be a lot of fun
· make a tape recording of them singing the song and play it for them; try to make a better recording if the first one didn’t sound so good
· If they need lots of practice on remembering the words, and you’ve been using visual aids, take one (or more) away each time they sing the song. This makes them have to only memorize a little at a time, and meanwhile, they’ve repeated the song lots of times and are learning it!
· Another idea is to have different groups of children learn different lines of the song. Have a teacher with each group who can practice the line with them a couple of times. Then sing the song. When their line comes up, their group sings it. Then switch lines between the groups.
· Tell the children you are listening for the best singers, or the ones who are trying the hardest, and give them a small prize like a sticker or a certificate. Or give them a privilege like letting them pick the next song or hold the next sign.
· Let the children take turns standing up front and leading the song… You can use this as a “best singers” reward, too
· Anything else you can think of! The idea is to keep your practice times interesting and enjoyable, so the children will love the songs and their messages!

Here are some other ideas:
· Make games out of the review process. Choose ‘n’ review games are great to review songs that they know pretty well. (Don’t ignore these songs! They forget them quickly if they don’t sing them often! And they love to sing songs they know.)
· Enlist the parents. Send copies of the words, or copies of the songs home with the children (or pass them out in Relief Society). Ask the parents to sing the songs with the children at home. (Some will, some won’t.)
· One ward last year made a tape of the songs they were singing for the program (from the Primary CD’s and the Hymn CD’s when needed) and gave copies to all the children. The loop of songs was recorded over and over on both sides of the tape so that the tape could be left on without having to stop and rewind it. It worked well because the children loved the tapes and played them often at home. (Present-day Katie's note: Yeah, this was written long enough ago that cassette tapes weren't completely obsolete.)
· If you have any other wonderful ideas that have worked well for you, please pass them along! Let me know and I’ll either send out another list like this or include the ideas in a future stake training meeting. Also, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Thanks for the wonderful work you are doing! The children are so important, and the songs they learn in Primary are something they can keep with them always.

Katie Parker
University 3rd Stake Primary Music Leader
(Present-day Katie's note: but not anymore!)

Monday, July 07, 2008

A Letter from Myself

OK, OK. In case you are wondering, it is no longer below zero here--despite what my perpetual last blog entry might indicate. No, we are actually inching up into the 80's. (I love the summers here in Wisconsin!) And so, at the request of my many readers (all six of you), I am venturing forth with a new blog post for your reading enjoyment.

I've been trying to organize all the zillions of little documents I have on my computer. Being both a writer and a history aficionado, I love to write lots of stuff and then stash it all away for historical purposes. The result is, well, folders on my hard drive full of documents I haven't read in years. It's easy enough to just ignore them, but lately I've been wanting to make some sense of the mess. So I've been going through them.

And interestingly enough, I just found a letter with ideas for reviewing songs in Primary to help the kids prepare for the upcoming program. I've been serving as the Primary chorister in our ward for the past couple of months, and the program is looming ever closer and I've been wondering how we're going to get those sweet kids to regurgitate all those songs in an efficient manner. And, of course, we don't want them to just regurgitate them, but to love them and internalize their messages. We have about 20 minutes a week to teach them 9 songs. The calling can be fun, but the challenge of getting them to sing all those songs well enough to perform in sacrament meeting can be daunting.

Anyway, this is the third time in my life that I have served as Primary chorister. I also served as the stake Primary music leader in our student stake in Salt Lake City several years ago. So, although callings can always be a challenge, this one is at least something I've encountered before and worked through multiple times.

Well, back to my little story. So I found this letter with the music ideas, and I eagerly read it through looking for "new" ideas for keeping the songs from getting boring as we review them. I was wondering where it had originally come from when I read the signature at the end:

Katie Parker
University 3rd Stake Primary Music Leader"

It was a letter from myself! Little did I know when I wrote that letter nine years ago for the music leaders in my stake, my "older self" would be reading and appreciating the ideas in it as well.

My younger self had no idea what life would be like for her in nine years, but she would have been pleased to know that she and her family did finally move out of student housing into a real house with a garage, a yard, and storage space. She probably would have been stunned to know that they would be living in Wisconsin, but happy that things were going well and that Wisconsin is a beautiful place that doesn't get too hot in the summer. And, of course, she'd probably have been flabbergasted to learn that she would be serving *again* as Primary chorister.

In case you're interested, I'll be posting the music review ideas separately at a later time. Stay tuned...and welcome to my time warp.

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