Our “Song of the Week” Program
(Don’t be intimidated by the word “program”–this system is crazy simple! And if you end up being underwhelmed, please share your inspiring ideas! My family might be ready to add more to our setup soon.)
Song method #1
When Joey and I were first married, he had the brilliant idea for us to sing a hymn together each night as part of our couple prayer time before bed. We had received a hymn book as a wedding gift from one of our favorite couples ever, and we decided we’d randomly open the book, write the date, and sing that song together. I love seeing those dates from ten years ago!
Usually, this was an easy and uplifting thing to do, and I learned some new favorites from this open-and-sing method like Now the Day is Over and Abide With Me. Tis Eventide. I’ll never forget one night in particular when we were singing after one of our first major disagreements as a couple. (I can’t remember any more what the disagreement was about, but I remember this experience with this song!) I didn’t want to sing together AT ALL that night! But we had made a commitment to this habit, so I grudgingly participated. It was impossible for me to stay upset with my husband when I heard him sing the words:
“Dearest children, holy angels Watch your actions night and day,
And they keep a faithful record Of the good and bad you say.” -Charles L. Walker
Every time I hear that song, I remember that experience and how sweet it feels to forgive and be forgiven.
I highly recommend this easy open-and-sing method for an uplifting goal for a young woman working on **Personal Progress, a college student needing a quick devotional experience, or a couple wanting a simple addition to their gospel study! It only takes a few minutes a day and truly will invite a sweet peace into your life!
Song Method #2
As children joined our family, our nightly singing practice gradually slipped away. I’ve been a children’s music leader at church several times and felt like we were getting a lot of music time in. We sing in the car, during house projects, on walks, in our dance parties…we sing a lot! 🙂 For a few years that seemed like enough.
But I wanted something with a little more order/structure so that my children would get to know some new songs and not just our absolute favorites. One night in late 2015, I finally had a crazy simple answer on how to do that in our family! I got out our hymn book and children’s song book and made an excel file with a song for each week of 2016. I think I ended up swapping two weeks, but otherwise we stuck to this schedule. Then I wrote down each week’s song in a certain spot on my Mormon Mom’s Planner (I’ll be writing more about this planner soon–my favorite planner ever!)
A Few Simple Ways to Use the Song of the Week:
We sing at least one verse before each meal and blessing on the food. It’s fast and gives a great transition for our family for meal times. By the end of the week, even our youngest (currently age 2) knows all or most of the words to even new songs. Yes, we’ve missed singing with some meals but in general, we try not to skip it.
We’ll usually do a quick intro to the song on Sundays since that’s when we switch to a new song. I’d love to have this part be more elaborate and fun, but lately it’s been more of an announcement–here’s the new song, lyricist/musician and why we’re doing that song.
I sing the song while I wash dishes. We don’t have a dishwasher at this rental house (I am so excited to have one again someday!!), and I find myself spending a LOT more time on dishes even when I try to stay caught up. I’ve decided to use this as my song practice time and have learned several additional verses to songs. My favorite was learning more of The Star Spangled Banner this year.
We use the Song of the Week as a lullaby, bedtime playlist, or quiet time music. I’ll often put 4-8 songs on a loop, and we’ll listen to them over and over. None of my children have complained so far about the repetition!
Some weeks we do more, but this is all we did consistently every week in 2016.
For a simple plan to make your own Song of the Week program please see this post.
The Benefits of Having a Song of the Week
This is not a magic trick to have peace in your home and with your children all the time (do you have a magic secret–please share!!) But after doing this for over a year, I know this simple program has at least a few benefits. Like the title of this post, the main benefit I want to share is that good music invites peace. It can take 1-5 minutes to sing most songs; less than a minute for many children’s songs. Singing together brings unity–my children get along better when they’re singing. I selected songs that align with my family’s core values, so singing or listening to our song of the week is a great reminder of what we feel is most important in life.
Your children (and you!) will also know more songs by the end of the year. Guaranteed. Music is a gift your children can carry with them always. Cheesy, yes. But lots of true things sound cheesy but are good for your soul. You can also find an abundance of lovely academic studies about this topic.
A Few Last Tips
In 2017 I decided to just wing it and pick a song each week on Saturday or Sunday. My intention was to invite more inspiration and participation, and I could pick a song that would be particularly meaningful for our family with whatever we had going on that week. After a few months, I realized that the “Song of the Week” just wasn’t happening when I didn’t have things planned ahead. I’ve switched back to having the songs planned out for the rest of the year. Please do what works best for you! A 3 or 6-month list might work great also!
I have included two versions (PDF and excel file) of our family’s list that you can use and adapt for your family! Song of the Week 2017 PDF
** My list includes songs from the Latter-day Saint Hymn Book and Children’s Songbook, which include some patriotic and traditional children’s music. Most of this music can be found at lds.org. This plan would work well with songs adapted to your family and culture. I’d love to hear how you use music in your home!