Did you know that a snatch of song that cycles unceasingly in your head is called an "ear worm"?
As a teacher with a love for choral music, I endeavour to plant an appreciation for choral music into my students’ brains. The challenge: I teach first grade. Obviously, the music is above all but the prodigies at this age level and in some choral music they can’t even understand the words. Still, I try anyhow.
First, I sometimes play choral music softly as they do their seat work. The white noise seems to help some of them focus and work quietly. I know it wiggles there way into their subconsciousness. Occasionally, they will inform me smuggly. “I sing that song at church.” I smile and say, “You’re right,” mentally adding, “not in that arrangement.”
So, a note to all composers out there who arrange well-known hymns. Keep at it. Children are listening, and as a listener, I enjoy songs that I know well enough to absorb and meditate on as well.
This leads me to a theory. Could it work the other way? So, I take melodies from choral songs and teach them to my students. As we read about Ezekiel’s prophecy in devotions, I teach them “Dem Bones,” excerpted from Larry Nickels arrangement. Touching their toes, shin bones, etc., they build a happy memory. “Demma bones a, demma bones are gonna walk around!”
Psalm 1 is on our list to memorize this year and a newly-released choral arrangement of this will give us a melody to aid in memorization. (I believe it’s by Douglas Byler, but I am not sure.)
I will continue to look for more ways to incorporate choral melodies into their education, planting an appreciation for quality music, one ear worm at a time.