Singing Time

February 20, 2006 | 13 comments
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I have envy — calling envy. Yes, that’s a sin that’s endemic to Mormonism. Unlike some others, I don’t really want to be a bishop or a stake president of a general authority. I’m deeply jealous, however, of people who regularly get to participate in singing time.

Before we moved to California, I was the primary pianist for quote some time, and then the sort of de-facto primary pianist for even longer. I loved it. We had spirited games of Name That Tune, mad dashes through Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes (it is possible to get it under three seconds start-to-finish!), and bouncy renditions of Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam. Kids learned the unteachable and sang the unsingable (starting with the Articles of Faith songs). And there were beautiful moments of song – I Often Go Walking; When I am Baptized; I Lived in Heaven; A Child’s Prayer – when the Spirit filled the room. It was wonderful.

When we moved to California, I quickly acquired a new set of callings – Sunday School presidency, Elders Quorum instructor, choir accompanist, assistant Scout-something-er-other – but I didn’t land a calling in the Primary. Time went by. I got used to teaching lessons (which is pretty enjoyable) and accompanying the choir (which is also pretty enjoyable). But every now and then, I’m called on to substitute in Singing Time. Those weeks are wonderful, and they serve to nurture and keep alive my calling envy.

This week was one of those; Mardell is out of town, and I was directing Singing Time. It was, predictably, a blast. For Junior Primary, we started out teaching them the song, with a complicated but fun set of visual aids for My Heavenly Father Loves Me. Stephanie waved her little fan for “or the wind as it rushes by” and little Madeline – who was pointing to her eyes as our visual aid for “He gave me my eyes” – kept leaving the line and trying to wander off. After that, we did a bouncy set of Sunbeams, and then a run through Hopcorn Hopping (yes, that’s as chaotic as it sounds).

The seniors already knew all of their songs, so it was time for some fun, Jeopardy style. Four columns, five questions in each. There were some regular questions, as well as a number of “singing doubles” – double point questions where the primary also sang a song. “Name that Tune” was one of the four columns, and betweeen that and the singing doubles, we got all of our songs (and then some) in. It was a close race to the end, when the Nephi team put it away with a series of clutch answers ending on a singing double (Restoration for 500) where Daniel earned a cool 1000 points for the correct answer to “who were the four Heavenly messengers who restored the Priesthood?” And then we sang The Priesthood is Restored.

Yes, I definitely have calling envy. Next week I’ll be sitting in Sunday School and then teaching in Elders Quorum; the kids will be singing without me. But today, it occurred to me that if I can’t take myself to Singing Time, then perhaps I can take Singing Time with me. So I think I’ll start my next Elders Quorum lesson with a quick participatory rendition of Hopcorn Hopping. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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13 Responses to Singing Time

  1. sue on February 20, 2006 at 12:18 am

    Primary Chorister is one of my all time favorite callings, followed closely by Nursery Music Leader. BEST CALLINGS EVER. Filled my whole week with sweetness.

  2. ESO on February 20, 2006 at 12:56 am

    Next time I move, I will take my Mom’s advice: a–volunteer for the calling you want and b–take Primary chorister (you can do it with a baby on your hip).

  3. BrianJ on February 20, 2006 at 10:05 am

    Kaimi,

    You know about the literal sons of Aaron having a right to be bishop (D&C 68:16)? Maybe you just need to find your Primary Chorister birthright.

  4. Stephen M (Ethesis) on February 20, 2006 at 1:50 pm

    I’ve really enjoyed primary, but I’ve got to admit I like teaching Elders Quorum more, sometimes. I really miss spending the time with Rachel as her teacher.

  5. Bryce I on February 20, 2006 at 3:03 pm

    I’m with you Kaimi. My favorite summers were the ones when I was the substitute Primary pianist, and the substitute Nursery music leader.

    One of my favorite things to do when substitute teaching a Primary or nursery class is to bring a guitar, harmonica, melodica, or similarly portable musical instrument and have extra singing time in class.

  6. Minerva on February 20, 2006 at 4:13 pm

    Some of my happiest times in church were the two years I was Primary chorister. I wish I’d known about Hopcorn Hopping! Bring on the chaos, that’s what I say.

  7. El Jefe on February 20, 2006 at 7:35 pm

    Aspiring is of the devil.

  8. Nancy on February 20, 2006 at 8:41 pm

    I’ve been Primary Chorister twice, and way back when, (not long after I joined the church) I was the junior Sunday School Chorister. After relaxing and realizing I could have a good time, I absolutely loved it, and I think it is near the top of my list of favorite callings. Never boring, no danger of falling asleep, no nerves, just fun, fun, fun, and lots of times of feeling the spirit, too.

  9. Matt Hemmert on February 20, 2006 at 10:45 pm

    When my wife and I returned to Utah last year, our ward was slow to extend callings. We found out why after monthly queries to deacons as to whether or not we were on their fast offerings routes; our records were in the ward, but we weren’t on any rolls or lists. We let that go on for five months while secretly enjoying our non-callings. Our “sin” caught up to us when, in tithing settlement, we mentioned we had no callings. The next Sunday we were called to Nursery, a calling I felt equal to the wickedness of rejoicing in not having a calling. I say that with a smile; I have grown to love this calling more than any other calling I have had (Gospel Doctrine teacher in three wards). Even when throwing toys, trying to escape out windows, eating play dough, talking about body functions, or screaming for parents, nursery children have a way of making me feel more satisfied after church. More satisfied than enduring long-winded soliloquies in Sunday school or the more-often-than-not pride jousting (as I call it) in Elder’s Quorum. It has even, gasp, made me rescind my moratorium on children in our marriage.

  10. CS Eric on February 21, 2006 at 11:34 am

    For the past four months, I have been teaching Elders Quorum, but my prayers have been answered and I have just been called as Primay pianist. I enjoy teaching, but Kaimi is right–a calling in the music for Primary is the best in the Church.

  11. George on February 21, 2006 at 6:34 pm

    I am with you Matt my most enjoyable callings have always been in the Primary Nursery. The love you feel for these children when they run to you, after so many tantrums previously thrown when reluctant parents left them alone in the nusery, is just a starting point of growth for you and the child which can only be compared to an investigator who is just learning the Gospel and then turns and teaches you the true meaning of the Gospel.

  12. Kristine Haglund Harris on February 21, 2006 at 11:15 pm

    I’m glad there are people like Kaimi in the church to teach my children. I am lousy with little kids–I was a serious, earnest child, and have never really learned to value fun enough to be a good Primary chorister. I always spend too much time trying to teach kids to read music and sing in parts and not nearly enough time playing games.

  13. Chance on February 23, 2006 at 1:16 pm

    I spent my time in Sunbeams, and I can’t say I miss it…I love children (really!), but the 8 boys I had as a 23 y/o newlywed did me in. Give me TIthing Clerk any day of the week and twice on Wednesday over of Primary. Yes, I’m going to burn (and probably be teaching primary while doing so) while all you primary-lovers are enjoying the celestial life.

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