7 Must Have Apps for Youth Directors

As a Youth Director, our job is fast paced & mobile.  A very large part of our job is spent recruiting and organizing youth, when their entire world is pulling them in different directions. Parents, coaches, teachers, friends all want a little piece of their time, and sometimes youth events are not chosen. Youth Directors need every possible tool we can muster to help organize and engage both the youth and parents. These seven apps are a must have to help grow & build a thriving youth program where everyone feels connected an informed.


unnamed

Remind 101

Remind 101 is amazing because it help me keep everyone in the loop. The purpose of the app is to easily send out messages to multiple parties. If they do not want to download the app, interested parties can simply txt a class code to 81010 to sign up. This app allows you to send blast messages, group messages, or individual messages. You can tag contacts in the app as “Parents”, “Students”, or “Volunteers” to send messages to certain parties without creating a whole new group.

As a young youth director, I value my privacy and I prefer to not give out my personal phone number. This app allows me to do just that, plus you also choose to have a second adult monitor all communication (Safe Sanctuaries)- but still reach the youth on a platform they constantly use. This app allows me to do just that, and I can still access messages on any of my devices seamlessly.


Google_-G-_Logo.svgGSuite (Google Drive, Sheets, Forms, Etc)

I use Google Suite for almost everything. I have been able to go paperless for all typical youth director task, which is a huge plus since my office is wherever I currently sit. Sign Up Sheets, Attendance Records, and document storage, are seamlessly on all of my devices and easily shareable with anyone else in my network. The only downside with Google Suite is if your church uses other document storage platforms, you may have to transfer a few extra files. I think this is totally worth it, as I constantly use these apps!


spotify-icon-62288

Spotify

Finding music that youth connect to is so important, and that is why I love Spotify. I pay for the premium connection, which allows you unlimited streaming from all of your devices, as well as ad free music. I use this to play music when youth are just walking in, hanging out, during guided meditations, and as long as you aren’t looking for Taylor Swift, then you can easily find any type of music.

The best thing about Spotify is the browse feature. Songs have been split up into many new different categories, playlist, and tags. This allows you to search a mood and thousands of songs will follow. I prefer Spotify to other music streaming apps, like pandora, due to the fact that you can search the entire library and play that song directly. This is a must have app.


d8983d94fecfb449e6c08687ea0609fb_instagram-new-vector-logo-instagram-logo-clipart-png_512-512Instagram

While this may become outdated within a year, most youth currently use Instagram as their main form of social media. The main point of Instagram is original photo content, not reposting or sharing other peoples images- so it is important that you capture photos that will get your point across. Once you post something, add a hashtag that is easily searchable so that you can reach more people that are outside of your church. Then, add a location to show the network where you are, so then they can

Having an Instagram account is also a great way to keep in touch with your youth and stay involved in their lives. It is important to note, however, that some youth do not want you to follow them. Respect their privacy and wait for them to follow the official youth account before you request to follow them back.


CanvaCanva_Logo

This app is great for creating original content for all of your social media. It has 1,000’s of templates where you can add your own photos, or use the many stock photos. This app is great for creating content for Instagram, Facebook, even your own personal website. The photos below were all something that I created on Canva just last night in the course of 30 minutes.

SNEAK
PEEK Jake White JakeWhite.blogIMG_5312


 

 

 

 

 

 

 


pinterest-icon-logo-D4965B6748-seeklogo.com

Pinterest

Pinterest is one of the best ways to collect new ideas for a youth program. You can find countless activities, items for the youth room, and even sample lesson plans that are easy to incorporate into any program. It is a joy being able to see the creative minds of youth directors at work trying to find solutions for problems. It has also been the source of inspiration for many a solution around my house as well. In order to save these ideas for later you can “pin” an idea to your board in order to save for later.


unnamed.pngConstant Contact

Constant Contact is an online email service that I could not live without. It can feature as a “Customer Relationship Management” software, a marketing service, or a contact database depending on your needs. I enjoy it because I am able to create beautiful emails each week that are appealing and organized. It has a great library of Stock Images that you can use for free (once you have paid for the service), or you can upload your own photos that you capture at an event. The one thing I wish this app offered was the ability to edit an email on your phone, that you started on computer. As of right now, the cross platform ability is not the best, but that could change with an update.


 

What other apps did I miss? Comment below about your favorite apps!

Advertisements

The Power of Logos

Any marketing expert will tell you that your brand is your life. When thinking of how you would like to brand yourself, you must think of what the aspects of your core identity are. For example mine are:

  1. Connect to people
  2. Connect people to other people
  3. Make Beautiful Music
  4. Have fun doing it

When I myself was looking for a new logo I reached out to a friend that is a graphic designer. I used my network to lower cost, and came out with a great product. I hope that this new logo says that I am young, fun, and able to get to business. The orange glasses are a strong part of my identity as they have been on my face for close to two years. They help me stand out. What makes you stand out to the crowd of potential clients?

 

The What of Stress

Lesson for Dayspring Youth Ministries on September, 13th 2015. Not to be reused without permission.

Stress: What, who, why, how

Goal: YWBAT understand the “What” of stress. What can cause stress, and what does stress feel like.

Materials Needed: What slide show, computer, projector, speakers, power chord, any game materials.

What? Ask youth the questions. Record their answer on white board or other device.

  1. What is stress?
    1. a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.
  2. What stresses you out?
    1. School, parents, friends, expectations, society, etc.
  3. Anything else?
  4. Is all stress bad?

Activity

Instructions: Number youth off from 1-2. Separate them into groups. Have each group choose two volunteers to be the groups test subjects.

  • Group 1: Negative Stressors-
    • Group members will function as negative stressors on their test subjects. Negative comments, unhelpful suggestions, general distractions, etc.
  • Group 2: Positive Stressors-
    • Group members will function as positive stressors in what ever way they think is appropriate, encouragement, compliments, helpful hands.

Set up “obstacle course” of stress. Obstacle course to be completed as fast as possible. 

  1. Physical stressors: Suicides in large open area. Set boundary before hand. 10 push ups. 10 jumping jacks.
  2. Mental stressors: Complete math problems on the white board.
  3. Problems: 4×4, 38/6, 2x+17= 0
  4. Board Game: Operation remove two pieces. If you hit buzzer you have to start over completely.
  5. Societal Stressors: “You’re Outfit Of the Day didn’t get enough likes on instagram” change it to get more likes

Have group 1 test subjects complete course. Group mates should function as negative stressors as indicated above. During this time Group 2 should be observing both test subjects and group mates, taking notes about their observations.

Have group 2 test subjects complete course. Group mates should function as negative stressors as indicated above. During this time Group 1 should be observing both test subjects and group mates, taking notes about their observations.

For additional stress: have music in the background. For group 1, play angry music (death metal, hardcore rap, etc). For group 2 play friendly happy music.

Debrief: Return to large group. Discuss the activity.

Encourage youth to discuss every part of this activity. What did it feel like to be a test subject. A group mate. What did you notice when you were observing the activity.

Make sure to list the signs of stress that youth were able to notice. Review what was discussed. End lesson with Highlights and bummers.

Stress- %22What%22 ppt

Music In Worship

Music in Worship is at a crossroads, and has been for sometime. In music history I wrote research paper on the writings of Martin Luther, and his views on music in worship. Below are some solutions I put forth. I invite your thoughts.

There is no good answer to the issues facing music in worship today. Both common performance mediums (Traditional and Contemporary Styles) have their positives and negatives. Some of these issues could be solved by a comprehensive music education for all people, but in the Untied States, that simply won’t happen for the time being. What is a solution to this issue that clergy could implement right now?

  1. Do not be afraid to teach the music to the congregation. If the melody is taught by rote, four measures at a time, it allows the congregation to get the pitch changes, and also spend more time with the lyrics and message of the song. If led by the clergy of the church, this can also provide a different type of connection to the members of the congregation, then can be found from preaching behind the pulpit.
  2. Offer classes. Many churches already offer out of service classes about many topics of spiritual importance.Why shouldn’t music be one of them? Offering classes on how to read hymns, or music in general would create a ministry opportunity that hasn’t been seen before. This can provide an entirely different ministry that is lacking from almost all churches, can help prevent people from being alienated by the hymn book, and allow clergy to connect to an entirely different group of congregants. (It might even help recruit people for the choir. 
  3. Ask your congregation. The type of music that they like is important in order for them to connect to the music. Ask the congregation the type of music they prefer and see if you can incorporate this into the musical worship.
  4. Use accompaniment appropriate for the song. Do not be afraid to use a guitar for one song, an organ for another, or a flute for the next. A great example of this would be to compare to songs that are popular in my own church.
    1. The first hymn,“O’ For a Thousand Tongues” by Charles Wesley, was written to be accompanied by Organ or Piano, so using this accompaniment would be appropriate to the context it was written. 
    2. The second hymn, “Shine Jesus Shine” was written for a praise band accompaniment, so using the church organ to accompany this song would not be appropriate. In this case, leading the congregation with a guitar or jazz piano would make much more sense.
  1. Make it fun. In his letter to the Church at Wittenberg, Luther writes  “… taking care lest the people should either be bored by too much repetition.” Luther wants the congregation to be interested in the music. Part of the way he made this happen was to include many types of music in his services. By making the music fun and enjoyable for the congregation to sing, the chances for congregants to connect to the spirituality of the song improves exponentially.

Conclusion

One of the key points of the reformation, started by Luther, is that there should be no secret to spiritual connection. This connection is for all people, not just the rich or the clergy. Music helps to create this connection and should be encouraged in all settings of worship. In Luther’s favorite scripture, Psalm 96, it states to “Sing unto the lord a new song. All the Earth.” It is far past time that music in worship started to sing a new song. A song that encourages all people in worship to sing along, not just the trained musicians. How that happens will have to be decided at each congregation. I hope that in my own church congregation we can begin to expand the congregational music making, and help people connect to the spirit they are called to. 

Teaching at Fee’s Middle School: Video

I loved the experience of teaching at Fees and knew that this was the career path for me. The first is a positive energy. At fees, the students were non-communicative and reluctant to be involved (which is understandable with an unfamiliar face in front) but as the instruction time went on, they relaxed and their energy changed. Upon my reflection at fees I noticed that student musical achievement was low and I do not know what I could have done in that situation to raise it. For example: the two trumpet players did not know how to play a “G” which is important to that piece of music. When I realized they were not playing in the appropriate parcel I attempted to work with them by having them sing the note, play the note, and I even asked an ASU student to sit by them and play with them. Even with all of this they still could not achieve this goal. I was faced with a choice, spend all my time on this group of students, or follow through the lesson: I chose the lesson. Lucky for me the primary goal was to define and identify a first and second ending. The students were able to achieve this objective and it was demonstrated by their ability to return to repeat sign.

My personal objective for this lesson was to “talk less and play more”. I would say that I mastered 50% of this goal. My instructions were clear a majority of the time, but when I was explaining the students fingering while I played spent 32 seconds explaining the directions, when I could have probably said, “Please finger and wind, but don’t make any sound” and that was it. This would have given more time for students to practice playing this piece, rather than being cut off with only the first four measures being played. Along these same lines I noticed that I said “Um” more than a few times and I have being trying for a very long time to quit saying this word.

 

This experience did have quite a few positives/ strengths as well. The first is my ability to make students feel welcome. I feel like it sounds silly, but by asking the students name, they all smiled and it felt as though they were more encouraged to answer the questions. I believe that names hold and incredible power that many people do not harness in the music world. This took time out of the lesson itself, but I believe that it was time well spent. The second strength that I had was I did my best to not put students on the spot. It was hard because of the small class numbers, but even when I was working with the clarinet section and having them play one at a time, I never gave constructive feedback allowed to the whole group, only to the clarinets. The final strength that is demonstrated is ENERGY. I told a joke, I had the students say random things, and I rewarded students with something as simple as a high-five, but that improved the students attitude and freed up the sound production.

I was grateful that my objective for this lesson was easy and simple. I believe that it helped set myself up for success with the students, especially because their achievement level was lower than (I feel like) we were told they would be. The process we were taught works, but it is not a process that works the first time like I thought it would. Looking back, teaching in class was not beneficial for me because I was already a strong teacher in my foundations. The stuff that went wrong at Fees Middle School were things that were caused by students not being able to play well yet. I feel like I was able to overcome these things, but I know that other students were not. For next semester my personal goals are to be able to teach a beginner with every instrument, and to learn two more secondary instruments. Preferably horn and flute.

In conclusion, I believe that the final teaching at fees was successful for myself. This was a learning experience for what I need to work on personally and how to proceed in future art of teaching classes.

Internship Reflection: Developing Aural Skills

Aural Skills

Your Initial Ideas:

After reflecting on my beginning music instruction, I realized that aural skills were entirely ignored until I reached a high school band. My first instrument choice in 5th grade was percussion. Typical of all beginning band, percussionist were placed in the back and left to fend for ourselves. I had helpful instruction from my beginning band teacher when it came to rhythms and general rudiments on snare drum. For mallet skills, I was given a book, and since I had taken piano I was able to decipher the notes and rhythms on my own. This ability had me at the top of my class for percussion. I didn’t realize until junior high though, that I did not have any sort of musical ear. I was told to tune a timpani and I found this an impossible task. I could not hear these notes. It wasn’t until now that I was able to figure out why, I was not required to use my ear to create/figure out notes. It is because of this realization that I find aural skill development from the beginning very, very important. Other teachers that I have worked with agree with me on this topic, because the ability to hear and sing a pitch is fundamental to music making.

The Voice of Authority:

In the article by Peggy D. Bennett, she discusses the importance of teaching children to discover their voices. The author is an instrumentalist, but states that she uses a vocal approach to teaching music to her students. Her approach to expression through the voice can become a channel to teaching musical expression on the instrument through similar strategies. It is one way to develop the skill of creating the sounds heard in the head, into the sounds heard in a musical performance. In another article, by Bruce Dalby, he discusses the methods introduced by Edwin E. Gordon. In Gordon’s method, he further elaborates on the process of “audiation”. Dalby feels that being able to play musically requires the ability to “sing through their instruments” from the connection of the mind to the sound created by the individual on the instrument. In the article, Dalby covers beginning to advanced methods of teaching with this approach, however the section that stands out to me in the beginning section was to “postpone reading in beginning instruction.” Especially the part when Dalby relates music reading to small children learning a new language. Dalby states how children speak before they read or write and it should be the same when teaching music. He feels that students should be taught to mimic familiar tunes just as children learn to mimic sounds and words that their caregivers model in language acquisition.

Initial Observations:

In the classroom, the students are given a book on day one and it is required materials throughout the semester long process. I believe that my IMT finds developing aural skills to be very important, but she feels like she is not able to use the process that is best for students because of time constraints. By the time they leave elementary school, they need to be able to know their fingerings, slide positions, rudiments, know basic musical ideas, and onto of it all: they have to read music. It is a must. Unfortunately for the students they only have thirty minutes of band twice a week. This overwhelming amount of things to do in such a short time means something must go, and it appears that developing aural skills is what has left the priorities list.

Student’s Voice:

I find that many students are advanced in their ability to recognize and match pitch. The percussionist I work with at my internship school do no like to read music and have leaned on figuring out mallet parts by ear. The trumpet players have also resorted to similar methods. The classroom teacher does not approach teaching with the Gordon model, so when I use this model with the students it takes them some getting used to. From what I have observed, the students enjoy it, but I can not tell if it is because it is something different, or they are enjoying the challenge of developing their oral skills. Another observation from these skills is that student mastery of the musical concepts increased, when using the gordon model. This experience reminds me a lot of my time in elementary band. Too many students, with not enough time to teach all of the necessary concepts to all of the students. It is clear that some student’s have been overlooked. With sixty something students and only one teacher who has limited time this is bound to happen, regardless what method the teacher is using.

IMT’s voice:

My intern mentor teacher, Michelle Kalo thinks that developing her students aural skills is extremely important, but as I suspected, she feels like there is simply too many other things that she has to get done in so little time. This is a sentiment that she says many of her colleagues in her district share. She also feels like it is more important that her students are able to read notes and rhythms than be able to play things by ear. When asked if there way a way to add more time to band class, she answered that her hand are tied because of the Mesa Unified School districts elementary band format. Until this is changed, she does not feel like she will be able to work more on students aural skills. This attitude toward aural skills is matched during band class as well. Students will pull out their instruments, begin to warm up on there own. Announcements are given and then students open the book to a group warm up, followed by the music they will be working on that day. In what feels like the blink of an eye, it feels like the class period is over.

Your Voice:

Developing aural skills in students is very important, and I believe that it should be the foundation to every musical education. I find it fascinating that this idea can be found in the Gordon, Kodaly, and Orff methods. I hope that in my class I will be able to use all of these methods and combine them into a method of my own. This method would begin with singing. Being active in both choral and instrumental music, I have personally seen the benefit that quality choral instruction has had on my own playing. I believe that once my students can sing through the musical idea aloud that it is an easy transfer to the instrument, especially with regard to brass playing. This is my hope, but I fear that if I am placed in a school like my current internship school I will fall into the same routine as my intern teacher. Simply put, there is no way to create a quality beginning band program with the students meeting two times a week for thirty minutes, no matter who the teacher is. In an ideal world, this would not be the case and my students will be both musically and aurally literate.

Music In Worship

Music in Worship is at a crossroads, and has been for sometime. In music history I wrote research paper on the writings of Martin Luther, and his views on music in worship. Below are some solutions I put forth. I invite your thoughts.

There is no good answer to the issues facing music in worship today. Both common performance mediums (Traditional and Contemporary Styles) have their positives and negatives. Some of these issues could be solved by a comprehensive music education for all people, but in the Untied States, that simply won’t happen for the time being. What is a solution to this issue that clergy could implement right now?

  1. Do not be afraid to teach the music to the congregation. If the melody is taught by rote, four measures at a time, it allows the congregation to get the pitch changes, and also spend more time with the lyrics and message of the song. If led by the clergy of the church, this can also provide a different type of connection to the members of the congregation, then can be found from preaching behind the pulpit.
  2. Offer classes. Many churches already offer out of service classes about many topics of spiritual importance.Why shouldn’t music be one of them? Offering classes on how to read hymns, or music in general would create a ministry opportunity that hasn’t been seen before. This can provide an entirely different ministry that is lacking from almost all churches, can help prevent people from being alienated by the hymn book, and allow clergy to connect to an entirely different group of congregants. (It might even help recruit people for the choir. 
  3. Ask your congregation. The type of music that they like is important in order for them to connect to the music. Ask the congregation the type of music they prefer and see if you can incorporate this into the musical worship.
  4. Use accompaniment appropriate for the song. Do not be afraid to use a guitar for one song, an organ for another, or a flute for the next. A great example of this would be to compare to songs that are popular in my own church.
    1. The first hymn,“O’ For a Thousand Tongues” by Charles Wesley, was written to be accompanied by Organ or Piano, so using this accompaniment would be appropriate to the context it was written. 
    2. The second hymn, “Shine Jesus Shine” was written for a praise band accompaniment, so using the church organ to accompany this song would not be appropriate. In this case, leading the congregation with a guitar or jazz piano would make much more sense.
  1. Make it fun. In his letter to the Church at Wittenberg, Luther writes  “… taking care lest the people should either be bored by too much repetition.” Luther wants the congregation to be interested in the music. Part of the way he made this happen was to include many types of music in his services. By making the music fun and enjoyable for the congregation to sing, the chances for congregants to connect to the spirituality of the song improves exponentially.

Conclusion

One of the key points of the reformation, started by Luther, is that there should be no secret to spiritual connection. This connection is for all people, not just the rich or the clergy. Music helps to create this connection and should be encouraged in all settings of worship. In Luther’s favorite scripture, Psalm 96, it states to “Sing unto the lord a new song. All the Earth.” It is far past time that music in worship started to sing a new song. A song that encourages all people in worship to sing along, not just the trained musicians. How that happens will have to be decided at each congregation. I hope that in my own church congregation we can begin to expand the congregational music making, and help people connect to the spirit they are called to.