Monday, April 27, 2015

Music of the Gospel FHE

My two oldest children, aged 7 and 9, started taking piano lessons this year, as did I at their age.  

One of my children loves music and always has.  At her recital, she even sang while she played the piano and had more than a few parents tearing up with her heartfelt performance.

My other child sees his piano lessons as mechanics.  He knows how to hit the right notes, and hits them with precision, but I'm pretty sure he does not feel the music deep down in his soul like my other child does.  And that's ok, for now.  

We all learn things--and even catch on to or learn to love things--in our own way, and often, in our own time.

There is, of course, allowance for and time to grow when it comes to spiritual things.  Heavenly Father has set up earth life this way...with everything we need to progress.  But as parents, of course, we hope that our children will catch on to spiritual things sooner rather than later.

Because of years of hard work in our home, our children are pretty well-versed in the gospel, but knowing gospel teachings and feeling gospel truths are not always the same thing, as Elder Wilford W. Andersen points out in his General Conference talk The Music of the Gospel.

This idea spilled out into a gospel discussion that our family was having one morning last week.  After reading about the parable of the sower during our morning family scripture study, we talked about what we can do to make sure our hearts are fertile ground for gospel truths...which lead us to the idea of "hearing the music of the gospel."

Quoting an old medicine man, Elder Andersen said, "'I can teach you to dance, but you have to hear the music.' 

He continued, "Sometimes in our homes, we successfully teach the dance steps but are not as successful in helping our family members to hear the music.  And as the old medicine man knew well, it is hard to dance without music." 
Even in the best of homes, under the finest instruction, this can happen.

When I was taking piano lessons as a child, from my own mother, I too did not let myself "hear the music".  Learning, and more importantly, practicing the piano was something that I just did not want to I picked up the very most basic skills, and then I quit. My mother did an excellent job of teaching me the notes, but I did not have the desire to hear the music.  That is on me. Being willing to "hear the music" is a choice we each make in life, whether it's acquiring a new skill or acquiring a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

During our family discussion, I asked my children if they understood what it means to "hear the music of the gospel."  They each gave me their version of what this phrase means.

One said, "to feel the spirit," another "to feel good inside," another "to do what Jesus teaches."  I asked them if they have ever heard the music of the gospel.  Each responded in kind and gave examples from their own 6, 7, and 9 year-old experiences, which included the happiness of being baptized all the way to the calm one felt when he prayed that he wouldn't throw up!

I shared with them that I probably hear the music of the gospel just about every day.  I said, "You know when Mom cries, and I say I feel happy, and you guys look at me funny for crying??  Well, those are times when I'm hearing/feeling the music of the gospel."  But times when I'm not trying very hard, not listening hard enough, it's easy for a day or more to go by and not really hear the music.  Those are the times I need to tune out the world more and listen to recognize that gospel music in my life.

Earlier last year, our family was working on our Family Media Plan.  We created an outline of principles that we'd like to guide the decisions we make when it comes to what media we welcome into our home.

I started by showing them a radio with a dial tuner.  I demonstrated how it works.  Each child was given the opportunity to practice tuning the radio to a station of their choice.  At first they heard static, and then after careful listening and fine-tuning, they could hear beautiful music.

This, we learned, is how we practice listening to the voice of the Spirit.  This is what we must do every day of our lives in order to hear the music of the gospel.  The fine-tuning includes daily personal and family prayer, daily personal and family scripture study, weekly family home evening, weekly partaking of the sacrament, and regular temple worship.

When we neglect to do these things, it is easy to fall out of tune with the gospel.  When we do them, especially as parents, our gospel teaching in the home will become much more effective.

Elder Andersen made this clear...before children can hear the music, parents must hear it first, be living in tune with it always, and demonstrate that gospel harmony in the home.

When parents hear the music of the gospel and live in harmony with that music and fill their home with the sweet music of gospel living, children are much better able to hear the music of the gospel as well.  In teaching my children gospel principles of any kind, I am most effective when I am living that gospel principle to the best of my ability.  All the time.  Not half-heartedly, but with all the energy of my soul.

Although I did not take to playing the piano at first, I grew up listening to the beautiful music that my Mom and Dad produced when they played the piano in our home. Their examples, their ability to hear, love, and produce beautiful music in our home day after day, year after year, planted in me the desire to learn to play that music as well, after I did a little maturing of my own!  

The same will be true for our children's spiritual growth.  We cannot and must not force them to "hear the music" of the gospel, but through long-suffering, showing of great love for them, and demonstrating OUR love for the music of the gospel, seeds will be planted that will one day bear spiritual fruit.

When I am doing that, when I am living the gospel consistently and in plain sight of my children...the teaching comes easily.  My passion for the gospel is palatable and transfers to my children contagiously.  

Again, hearing the music is your children's choice, but making sure that your behavior is not blocking the music is yours.

I am so grateful for the Family Home Evening program

One of the biggest blessings that I've noticed over years of holding FHE in our home is that the more we do it, the more FHE spills over into every other facet of our lives.  Gospel discussions can happen any time, any where, and often do.  It does not always need to be structured, perfect, reverent, or pinterest-worthy.  It can be beyond-silly, spontaneous, and hands-on.  Holding FHE each week is an act of obedience that is always acceptable to God and yields great blessings!

Here are some more ways you can gauge whether or not your children are "hearing the music of the gospel" or just going through the motions.  These are things you can do casually or as part of a Family Home Evening:

1. Ask them if they hear it and let them tell you about times they've felt the music of the gospel personally.  This is also nice to do one-on-one together, possibly while going on a walk or doing something calm together.
2. After teaching spiritual lessons to your children, invite them to teach these same lessons to their siblings and observe how these messages are delivered by them.
3. Give children opportunities to make choices with spiritual consequences after they have been taught correct principles.
4. Bear your testimony to them often and hold regular personal interviews, in which they are free to express themselves to you without judgement.
5. Make sure they feel comfortable asking you questions as you can learn just as much from their questions as from their answers.

HAVE MORE IDEAS for helping your children hear the music of the gospel?  Please leave your ideas in a comment on this post...

Family Home Evening 100th anniversary blog event

...go ahead and visit these other bloggers to find more great family home evening lessons based on a talk from the April 2015 General Conference! Be sure to leave them comments thanking them for their hard work in putting the lessons together.

Whitney @ Southern Hope | Jocelyn @ We Talk of Christ | Montserrat @ Cranial Hiccups


  1. What a lovely post and I am going to make sure that my children read it. Thanks for this one and for your endearing testimony of Family Home Evening. As a young mother I loved having Family Home Evenings. I pray that all of my children are having Family Home Evenings. I know for sure that some of them do. I am happy that they are all involved in the gospel and have strong testimonies.
    I will share this one.
    Blessings and hugs for this one~

  2. This is one of my favorite talks from General Conference, and I love the way you taught it to your children! The radio analogy is an awesome idea! I love how you said that ". . . hearing the music is your children's choice, but making sure that your behavior is not blocking the music is yours". That is such a true principle, but so often forgotten. Thank you so much for sharing!


    1. I thought he did a masterful job teaching a subject of importance to us all!

  3. Absolutely love this post. Especially the radio analogy! So well done!

    1. Thanks, Diane...He uses it in his talk as well...luckily, we had talk about the radio analogy beforehand, so when my kids heard his talk, they REALLY identified with it and caught on right away! Fun, hands-on lesson to teach a sometimes abstract concept!

  4. My grand daughter Paloma plays five instruments but she is so shy to play in front of anyone. She is now fifteen years old and even though she has achieved learning to play the French horn, piano, flute, violin and now learning to play the guitar...she still is unable to play in front of others. She loves music and plays in the high school band but cannot overcome her shyness. I am so happy your girls sing and play in front of people...good job Joceyln.

  5. Loved how you said the more you do FHE, the more it spills into other parts of week- so true! Thanks for the bonus discussion ideas too!

  6. This talk resonated so much with me. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I look forward to using this in FHE with our family!

  7. I LOVED this talk. We talked about it last night for FHE! I totally should have read this beforehand. Thanks for sharing!!

  8. This was one of my favorite talks from General Conference too! We constantly have someone either practicing the piano or guitar or violin at our house. It gets pretty noisy at times! Because of our family's love of music though even my littlest ones were able to get the connection Elder Andersen was making with the gospel. "Keep practicing!" gets repeated a lot at our house. :)

  9. Jocelyn, I hope you remember me from PA. You brought me a frozen lasagna when I was about to have my baby!
    I just googled FHE lessons on the music of the gospel talk & your blog came up on the list, so I clicked on it and saw your picture!! It's a small world!!! I loved your blog post about this talk & how it ties into so many aspects of the gospel and life, like piano lessons! Thanks for sharing! I am going to incorporate your ideas into our family home evenings! Love your blog & the focus on Christ!

    1. Frozen lasagna, eh? Sounds about right! ;) haha, of course I remember you!!! How are you doing? Thanks for your comment and compliments! Keep in touch!!

    2. Frozen lasagna, eh? Sounds about right! ;) haha, of course I remember you!!! How are you doing? Thanks for your comment and compliments! Keep in touch!!