How Many Primary Songs Should I Teach?

I conducted a fun and thorough Primary Survey with 17 FAQ’s and common questions about a year ago. The post was JAM-PACKED with information. But, I think it was a little too much for one post and hard to share answers to more specific questions.

To make it easier to digest, I’ve broken the big master post into 4 smaller posts, and this is the first post in the series!

If you want to learn more about the demographics of the survey, take the survey yourself (I would love an even larger sample size!) or find what 20 questions were included, I’ve left just those basic details in the original post here.

How Many Primary Songs should I teach? You'll love this DEEP dive into the most commonly asked questions from Primary Music Leaders such as how many songs they typically teach on a typical Sunday, if they sing transition or extra songs, how many verses to teach, and if they teach special songs! The answers are results from a survey with stats that are SO fascinating!

How Many Primary Songs Should I Teach?

Here’s the 5 survey questions we’ll cover in this post:

  • 1. How many songs do you actively teach on a typical Sunday?
  • 2. Do you sing any songs while the Primary children are entering or exiting the Primary room?
  • 3. Do you sing any of these extra songs regularly in Primary?
  • 4. Do you teach any special Primary songs?
  • 5: How many verses do you prefer teach for each song?

1: How many songs do you actively teach on a typical Sunday?

how many songs do you teach on a typical sunday primary singing time faqs and questions from music leaders

I was surprised how close the results were for teaching 1, 2, and 3 per week was! I would have thought 1 and 3 would have been pretty equal with not too many picking 2 songs.

1 in 3 Primary Music Leaders teach 1 song per week, followed closing by 3 songs and then 2 songs per week. Nearly 1 in 10 music leader includes 4 or more songs on a typical Sunday! That’s impressive and I want to learn from them. 🙂

A few comments did clarify that they are teaching 1 or so NEW songs but include a variety of additional songs the kids have previously learned or simply have fun experiences with the songs, without focusing on needing to remember the song. Some also use 2 weeks to teach and the additional weeks to review the current song and previous songs.

I also saw comments about including songs from the Primary Song List for the Year and then adding in an additional song to tie in the Come Follow Me lesson of the week!

If I have a full 20 minutes, I typically include 3 different songs that I selected from the list of songs for the year that get rotated in giving me 2-3 months with each of my Program songs. It worked wonderfully for me!

On tight weeks or if an activity went especially well, I would usually get through 2 of my planned activities and save the other one for a different week.

2: Do you sing any songs while the Primary children are entering or exiting the Primary room?

do you sing songs when kids enter or exit the primary room? primary singing time faqs and questions from music leaders

Nearly 1 in 4 (23%) add additional singing time during one or more transitions. While 77% do not add additional music when the kids are entering or leaving the Primary room.

That’s a great slot to throw in more song variety in any given week. I usually planned a couple of wiggle songs from some of the more “fun” song suggestions from the month or Come Follow Me lessons that month and added them as wiggle songs while kids were coming into the Primary room.

Then, a quick opening song to get things started and transition the mood from fun and playful to more reverent. I did all this in the time slot before Primary was actually supposed to start and it is great to squeeze in some extra singing time and song exposure!

Some in the comments mentioned they would love to sing during transitions but the pianist just practices playing or the presidency prefers background music. I think this is pretty common, so I appreciate this comment and honesty!

Slightly more music leaders in Utah (24%) sing songs during one transition. Only 2% in Utah sing for all transitions so most of this difference comes from that selection change.

3: Do you sing any of these extra songs regularly in Primary?

do you sing opening sings or birthday songs in Primary? primary singing time faqs and questions from music leaders

With the shift to 2-hour church, some songs that most music leaders routinely used to always include in our Singing Time schedules are no longer recommended. That includes birthday and welcome songs as well as an additional transition song (closing for the 1st group and opening for the 2nd group for a split Primary) and prayer is no longer advised.

You can see the full Instructions for Singing Time here to read up on what your Singing Time should include, if you would like to read the official documentation.

The instructions do say an opening song (or closing for the second group in Primary) and an Article of Faith song could be appropriately used.

I’m not making any judgement at all about utilizing additional songs, I as just curious to see how the numbers would fall. As I mentioned above, I usually used fun songs during that extra transition bit of time I had available for the best of both worlds!

Nearly 1 in 3 still include a Birthday song! Of course, that may look different now such as singing a Birthday song just once a month.

Only 1 in 10 still sing Welcome songs for when visitors come to Primary.

1 in 4 Primary children are learning one or more of the Article of Faith songs! I find that one interesting!

Almost half of all Primary music leaders include Wiggle songs sometimes during Primary!

Yet, with all that, 1 in 5 leaders choose not to include any of these extra songs.

There’s so much to unpack with this one, but I love all the variety and that ultimately it’s okay to make whatever decision is best for your Primary and your allotted time.

4: Do you teach any special Primary songs?

do you teach any special primary songs? primary singing time faqs and questions from music leaders

I wasn’t completely sure how this one would go. I personally usually include 1 “specialty” song such as Gethsemane or I Will Be What I Believe in a program year. I love those songs, but they are LONG and much harder to teach than others.

I also often will include one song from the hymn book, which would make another interesting question if I do another survey in the future.

More than 1 in 3 music leaders add 1 special song to teach during the year.

In contrast to that, approximately 1 in 6 stick to only songs from the Children’s songbook.

A barrier to using additional songs in Primary can be a language barrier. One commenter talked about most specialty songs aren’t available in other languages. I hadn’t put much thought into that as a barrier, previously.

Slightly fewer music leaders in Utah stick to only songs from the Children’s songbook (16%). But most of that difference is made up with bumping up to adding only 1 additional special song (41% said they include 1).

NEW Primary songs and sheet music from songs published in the Friend magazine and are considered pre-approved to teach in LDS Singing Time! So much amazing music to pick from.

I have had a lot of really wonderful experiences including some of these “specialty” songs in Primary. There are quite a few that are pre-approved by the Church and available for free on the church’s website that can be a good option. I’m hoping a few more of these songs will make it into the updated Children’s Songbook when it’s finished! You can see this master list of the songs published on the church website here!

5: How many verses do you prefer teach for each song?

how many verses do you teach for each song primary singing time faqs and questions from music leaders

I was a little surprised by the results here, but it was definitely one of the harder questions to answer. I personally stick to only teaching the 1st verse for most of my songs, with adding a 2nd verse or the whole song to just one or two of my song picks for the year.

For me, it means I can include a bunch more songs while still teaching the main message of any given song with the most important verse. I was surprised to see that 6% focus on just the first verse.

Just shy of 1 in 3 Primary children learn between 1 to 2 verses for most songs.

I was also surprised that so many plan to teach the whole song for most of their song choices (28% teach 2-3+ verses).

There is some shift where 32% of music leaders in Utah try to teach 2-3 verse or the whole song. Most of this variance comes from the “it varies” category.

The “it varies” category accounted for 36% of the overall votes.

Head over to the Primary Survey Part 2: Primary Program!

Join INSTANT Primary Singing today for immediate access to monthly printable singing time ideas!

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