Saturday, February 8, 2014

I've Got the Music in Me! (growing through my newest calling)

I was asked to be the musical chorister for our children's Primary group last year in Hawaii. We met at the Hilo LDS church building on Kilauea Avenue where we had about 20-25 kids coming to Primary every week. 
I was floored at first when my Bishop asked me to volunteer for this job! Of all the church leadership positions I've held, music is something I never considered possible!
 My reasoning being because I don't play any instruments, I don't read music, I have an average singing voice, and I often don't remember the words to songs. All of these factors pointed me in the direction away from musical callings!
But God obviously had something to prove to me when he called me to this position. I trusted his will for me and said yes, starting my new job the following Sunday.

I was really nervous at first. I searched and scoured  Pinterest, and google-searched  for ideas and games to help me teach songs to the children. I joined a facebook group for LDS Primary choristers where I hung on their every word and looked desparately for inspiration. I read all the Primary music lessons from the LDS Primary handbook and watched the training videos online. 
I was so scared at failing at this calling that I wanted to cover every surface of learning. And I prayed. I prayed like mad that I could get up there and teach these children how to sing these beautiful, spiritual, uplifting songs, and that they wouldn't see right through me for the no-brained musician I really was.
I didn't know how to lead music, either. I figured I would learn as I went. With each song, my arm flailed back and forth, trying to mimic years and years of watching our Sacrament choristers in the front of the chapel. It couldn't be too hard, right? Just wave my arm to the beat of the music.
So that's what I did. 
Over the following months I found that, even though I was lacking in musical skills, my heart belonged to this calling. I quickly fell in love with learning the songs and with feeling the spirit of the messages composed within each note and measure. I looked forward to getting up there each Sunday to sing and memorize the words alongside the children.  I tried hard to make the lessons fun and enjoyable, as well as reverent and spiritual.
I looked forward to coming to church every Sunday cause I knew my lessons would not only impact the kids, but would lift and inspire me!  I always came home after church feeling refreshed and happy. This was the best calling EVER!
We decided to move to Utah just a few months after I accepted serving in this calling. I was sad to leave my favorite calling ever, but also grateful for the experience that I'd had. I figured that with all the extraordinarily musically talented people in Utah, they wouldn't need my immature skills. My next calling would most likely be in Cub Scouts or Young Womens, I reasoned. 
But, sure enough, our second week at Church, our new Bishop called me into his office and asked me to be the Primary musical chorister. He said he felt inspired to call me to this position, and hoped I would accept the call. I said yes. A little nervous and doubting, but indeed, I said yes.

It's been 6 months since that day that I've been teaching music lessons each Sunday to our new group of children. I knew from the beginning that God wanted me to do this job for a reason, but it hasn't been til recently that I've realized more certainly why. (and it wasn't just to make me feel really small. haha)

First of all, I think that God wanted to prove to me that I  still had the capacity to grow and learn new things: That even though most of my days as a stay-at-home mama are  filled with dishes and laundry and teaching my boys,  I could still learn a new skill and talent in my personal life. 
I asked our Sacrament chorister to give me lessons on how to lead music. She was beyond thrilled when I asked, and taught me everything she knew. My arm doesn't flail anymore, I can lead to the beat of the music, I know what a signature is, and I have more confidence standing up in front of our Primary group.
I'm also much improved at memorizing things. My brain has been stimulated in such a way that I am more adept at remembering the lyrics to the songs, as well as Scriptures. Learning these songs has done wonders for the mechanics of my mind!!

Second, my life has been filled with more joy and happiness. The sweet spirit these songs bring into my life touches my heart and makes me feel more connected to my Saviour. I've always loved singing, and having these songs in my head all week does wonders for my soul. We sing the songs with my boys for morning devotional and I love to hear them humming the songs throughout the day

Third, God knew that my boys needed me permanently in Primary. My boys are so shy and anxious in large groups of people, but when I am there they are content. I love watching them sitting there in Primary, participating in the activities, and feeling the spirit of the lessons. My 7yo Zadok is too shy to sing, but every once in a  while I catch him mouthing the words to the songs we're singing. It melts my heart. I know that these songs have the power to move him, even when he won't admit it.
I asked my boys one day if they liked having me in Primary or if they would like it better if I wasn't there. I was somewhat surprised when they all yelled unanimously,"We want YOU, mom! You can't leave! We like you the best!" I didn't realize they felt so passionately about it!

Lastly, being a music chorister reminds me constantly of my wonderful Grandma Lois. Before she passed away and when I lived close by her, our favorite thing to do was sing Primary songs together. She knew every word to every song, even in her late 90's. She was such a true example to me of someone who loved children and appreciated the power of music in their lives. She lived true to the messages and principles found in the church Primary songs, and taught me to do the same. 
She didn't have an amazing singing voice, but she loved to sing anyways! She always reminded me,"Heavenly Father doesn't care what you sound like! He loves it when you sing and wants you to sing for Him!"
I took that message to heart and even told my primary class:

It doesn't matter if we aren't very  musically talented, if we can't hold a tune, if we can't read music or play an instrument: God wants us to sing for Him and to feel the spirit of the songs! Through singing we will grow a stronger testimony of His love for us and His desire for our everlasting happiness! God will magnify our talents and teach us what we need to know! Just like he taught me to be a music chorister when I never saw it coming in a million years!


Da Denninghoff's said...

I love love to sing but don't have a nice voice but I sing strong anyways because I love the messages I feel when the words exit my mouth. What a fun calling!

Sally Jackson said...

I love you Nita!! I like that words "exit your mouth". haha. Thanks for putting a smile on my face.

arianne said...

I would love to be in your primary. I can just see you rocking it in there. I dreamed last night I was driving around town and saw the pink bus. "It's Sally, I've got to stop," I told Jared. Miss you.

Unknown said...

This is very similar to how it was when I was called to be Primary Music Director - Susan Markham taught me how to lead then after several joyous years of that then it was Sacrament MTG. Chorister in H.B.and Hawaii. Who knew I'd ever be doing that and then choir leader? Yep, for awhile until my arm/neck got injured & couldn't wave anymore. Yay Sal!! Happy singing!!

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