Have you ever had to run your Singing Time without a Pianist? Whether it’s for a select Sunday or two during the year or if you go without a piano most weeks, you’ll love some of these ideas here to help you make the most of your singing time without a pianist!
6 Ideas for Singing Time Without a Pianist
1. Look for a Substitute ahead of time
If you’re short a pianist just a single week, you can look for a sub! Of course, this first idea is obvious, but keep in mind you don’t have to wait until you get the warning – prepare a list of available and willing substitutes to go to ahead of time to make it less stressful for everyone!
You’ll love this printable Primary Substitutes Sign-up Sheet. Let your Primary Presidency help you look for helpers and they can find subs for teachers, music leader, and other needs at the same time!
You can either print the sign-up and pass it around or send out a digital form (both are included in the post!)
Try asking these people in the ward to help you as a pianist:
- A currently called Primary teacher that will be in Singing Time
- The Primary Presidency
- Ward pianist or conductor
- Someone with a Sunday School or EQ/RS calling on their off week
- Ask a youth from Young Men’s or Young Women’s to play
- Let an older Primary child play (see #3!)
2. Sing Acapella
The easiest path forward without a pianist is to embrace singing acapella! It might be scary at first for a music leader that’s not a confident singer, but you’ll likely find it has a lot of benefits!
I’m not at all a confident singer, but there were specific times, even with my wonderful pianist, that I would ask her to not play during a specific activity. It allows you a little more flexibility for speed, flow, practicing dynamics, or even just starting and stopping as needed easier.
Activities that work wonderfully without a piano:
- Song Story
- Melody Map
- Hand Actions
- Hand Bells
- Foreign Language
- Beat vs Rhythm
3. Use I Can Play It simplified sheet music
Some of your Primary children may be learning to play the piano and excel at the opportunity to help accompany you during Singing Time!
To help take off some of the pressure, you’ll want to start with the I Can Play It simplified sheet music. Head over to see this MASTER list of all the I Can Play It Simplified Sheet Music!
Then, have them play with you the first time you sing through the song, then sing one time without the piano to give them a chance to recover, play along in their head as you sing, and not become over stressed or worried about playing on repeat!
This resource can also be wonderful for adults that are stepping in and haven’t had time to practice the songs ahead of time or who may be rusty at playing the piano but are willing to help!
4. Do Movement Activities
If you’re busy moving and super engaged in the song, you and the kiddos will hardly miss the piano! It’s totally okay to just have a bunch of fun with the music and get lost in movement and play to learn the song instead.
Without the piano accompaniment, you’ll have a little bit of extra flexibility to speed up the pace or slow it down to fit your actions. You’ll also find many times you may want to pause and introduce the next movement, and without the piano makes it very easy.
Here are some of my favorite movement activities:
- Dance Scarves
- Body Rhythm
- Ribbon Wands
- Cup Pattern
- Rolling Rhythm Sticks
- Directional Marching
5. Make your own music with instruments!
A piano isn’t the only way to help bring music to life. You can use a variety of instruments to create the melody or the underlying beat and rhythm of the song.
The children will be having so much fun and it’s a great way to help them come to have a deep love for music! You can even teach them some of the fundamentals of music like when using Handbells, you’ll be showing them the names and movement of notes!
Another option is to have a musician come in to accompany you with a guitar or ukulele.
See a list of all my recommended supplies for Primary Music Leaders here (plus a discount code on Handbells!)
Favorite instruments to get started with:
- Egg Shakers
- Hand Bells
- Rhythm Sticks
- Paper Plates
- Jingle Bells
6. Use Alternate Music Sources
Another great way to play the music without a piano is by using a little bit of technology! The go-to option for music leaders is to use the Sacred Music app. This app was created by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and will let you select to play the music with or without the words added.
You’ll be able to listen to music from the Children’s Songbook, Hymn book, and even additional songs for Children & Youth, from Face to Face events, even music from General Conference!
While that’s the 1st option, there are a few other resources you could certainly use, such as flipchart videos on YouTube or download the music files directly to your device and then play them!
3 Alternate Ways to Play Primary Songs:
- Sacred Music App & Bluetooth Speaker
- Sing-Along YouTube Videos
- Download the music tracks and play them from your phone or MP3 player
For a fun activity you can do WITHOUT the piano, you’ll love this throwback to an old VHS player with singing speeds and a time themed lesson plan: Time of Your Life singing time!
What other ideas have you used to lead singing time without a pianist?