On Sunday, when it is my turn, before I do anything else, I will lay out the handbells on the table and put the notes for the chorus of CTR up on the board. This will pique the kid’s interest and create anticipation for what we will be doing today. They will be paying close attention and their brains will be all fired up, ready to learn.
Now that I’ve got their attention, I’m going to teach the 3rd verse the same way as the others, with ASL signs for key words. Usually when we do this I teach them the sign, what it means, and then fit in into the verse. This week I’m going to do it backwards. I’ll show them the sign and then I’ll sing the verse and have them guess what word corresponds to the sign. I think this will work better in Sr Primary, so for Jr I will also have an animal puppet. I will draw a name or select a 3-4 year old to come up front and use the puppet to mark the beat of the song (to make sure we do it slow enough). However, since most kids that age won’t be able to keep a steady beat, we’ll really just enjoy seeing them play with the puppet.
Once we’ve been through the verse enough that they are comfortable with it I will break out the hand bells. We’re going to play the notes for the chorus this week. (Soon, very soon I hope, I’ll have Sr Primary play the notes to the tenor line…but not this week.) I’ll have eight randomly selected primary children come up and (after reminding them about proper bell etiquette) play the chorus while a musically knowledgeable teacher points to each note and I direct the rest of the primary to sing. We’ll practice the 3rd verse and sometimes the 2nd verse. And then, maybe, we’ll do the whole song. wow, that would be something.
I’ve though a lot about how to notate the music (to indicate which bell plays when). The simplest and most cost-effective way I came up with was to print a blank staff that fills the whole page and take it in to church to be copied many times. Then I take a set of markers with all the colors of my handbells and draw the music by hand. Then I’ll tape them together in strips that will fit on the chalkboard. You can download my blank staff template here and the cleff/time signature here. I know traditional kids handbell music is much simpler than this, but I believe our primary can handle the extra information. And if not, I’ll do something else :0)
If you want to print (in color) a copy of my handbell music for the chorus of CTR, here is a link to the file.